Scientists at the Danish Research Center for Organic Farming have been developing methods to test whether and to what extent a diet composed of organic food and/or animal feed improves animal health. Three groups of rats were fed diets composed of potatoes, carrots, peas, green kale, and rapeseed oil. One group received a diet from organically grown crops. The second group was fed crops grown under minimal fertilizer and with pesticides, and the third group was given fed from heavily fertilized and pesticide-treated fields.
Several measurements of health were taken. The rats fed the organic and the minimal fertilizer diets had improved indicators of immune system status, compared to the group fed conventional foods. In addition, the organic group tended to gain somewhat less weight and had lower levels of adipose (fat) tissue. The blood of rats fed the organic diet also had markedly higher levels of Vitamin E.
The team concluded that in all cases where a statistically significant difference was observed across the three diets, the animals fed the organic feed were healthier. They also stressed the need for future research, since the results of this study cannot be extrapolated to other foods, feeds, and animals.
Authors: Charlotte Lauridsen, Henry Jorgensen, Ulrich Halekoh, Lars Porskjaer Christensen, and Kristen Brandt, DARCOF Enews, December, 2004.