EDITORIAL – APRIL 2002
A year ago we reported that Harvard researchers had found that eating lots of fruits and vegetables do not, as previously thought, protect against lung and colon cancers. This rather startling finding raised the obvious question of how come researchers 30 years ago concluded that fruits and vegetables were highly protective against cancer and heart disease. Not one of the several dozen researchers involved in the recent study stopped to ask if fruits and vegetables could have lost some protective component that was there 30 years ago.
Well, now the question has been asked and answered! British researchers have discovered that conventionally grown produce does indeed lack something. They tested 11 brands of organic vegetable soups and 24 brands of non-organic soups and found that the organic brands, on average, contained 9 times more salicylic acid than did conventional brands. Four conventional brands actually contained no salicylic acid at all. Salicylic acid is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin and helps prevent colon cancer and atherosclerosis.
Salicylic acid is produced naturally in plants and serves to protect them against pests, stress and disease. So there is no question that it is required in plants grown organically, that is, without the protection of synthetic pesticides. However, salicylic acid is much less essential in plants that have been grown for generations under a protective shield of pesticides; basic evolutionary theory would predict that conventionally grown produce would gradually lose the ability to defend itself through the production of salicylic acid. Is this what has happened? No doubt future research will address this question. In the meantime, I suggest you search out organically grown produce for your dinner table – and it tastes so much better too!
Copyright 2002 by Hans R. Larsen
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