Rutgers University Study: Organic vs. Conventionally Grown Produce and Follow Up

Organically grown produce provides our families with more nutrition than conventionally grown!

If you’re buying your food from commercial sources, such as a grocery store, take a look at the difference in the quality of conventional versus organic food.

Food Percentage ofDry Weight Mill-equivalents per 100grams Dry Weight Trace Elements Parts per Million Dry Weight
Total Ash Mineral Phosphorus Calcium Magnesium Potassium Iron Manganese
Organic 10.45 0.36 40.5 60 99.7
Commercial 4.04 0.22 15.5 14.8 29.1
10 2
Organic 10.38 0.38 60 43.6 148.3
Commercial 6.12 0.18 17.5 13.6 33.7
0.4 0
Organic 24.48 0.43 71 49.3 176.5 516 169
60 0.19
Commercial 7.01 0.22 16 13.1 53.7 9 1 0
Organic 14.2 0.35 23 59.2 148.3 1938 68
53 0.63
Commercial 6.07 0.16 4.5 4.5 58.8 1 1
0 0
Organic 28.56 0.52 96 203.9 23.7 1584 117
32 0.25
Commercial 12.38 0.27 47.5 46.9 24.6
0.3 0.02

Rutgers University Study Comparing Organic versus Commercially Grown Foods


It has been noted by many in the scientific community that this study has been wildly misquoted by many as illustrating the superiority of organic produce. I have received comments from viewers who reported that they could not locate this study through Rutgers, or that it had been disproven. The study was real, and the results were calculable, however, the subject matter was mineral composition, not a comparison of organic vs. conventional produce. I apologize to my readers and offer this explanation from Rutgers:

Misquotes in “Variation in Mineral Composition of Vegetables”

A study conducted at Rutgers University (Bear et al., 1948) is frequently misquoted as evidence supporting the position that organically grown vegetables are significantly superior in minerals and trace elements to conventionally grown vegetables. In reviewing the original publication, one can clearly see that this was not the intention of the study nor does it give support to this premise. The purpose of the study was to compare the mineral composition of vegetables “as one proceeds from south to north and from east to west in the United States.” Samples of cabbage, lettuce, snapbean, spinach, and tomato were obtained from commercial fields of these crops and analyzed for mineral composition. A total of 204 samples were examined. The vegetables sampled were usually, but not always, of the same variety. The authors reported, in a table, the range in mineral concentration as highest and lowest values observed among the vegetables sampled. These highest and lowest values have been misrepresented as vegetables grown organically and inorganically, respectively, in various organic farming and healthfood newsletters, which cite the report (copies of the misquotes are available on request).

The authors discussed the influence of soil type, fertilizer practice, and climate on the observed differences in mineral composition. The study only provides a general survey of their possible influence and did not compare synthetic fertilizer and organic practices.

Received 11 Mar. 1991.

Crop Science Dept.
Rutgers Univ.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Bear, F.E., S.J. Toth, and A.L. Prince. 1948. Variation in mineral composition of vegetables. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 13:380-384.

Reprinted from the Soil Science Society of America Journal
Volume 55, No. 5, September-October 1991
677 South Segoe Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA


2 thoughts on “Rutgers University Study: Organic vs. Conventionally Grown Produce and Follow Up

  1. This Rutgers study has been debunked. It was a study testing produce in different areas of the country, not organic versus conventional. I wish someone would do one on conventional versus small organic farm produce!

    • It was a study on mineral composition in produce, yes. Unfortunately it seems to have been misquoted by many sources, and I am sorry to have posted something that I believed was sound science without investigating more thoroughly. I know that the effect of organic produce on my body is superior to conventional, and I’m with you! Let’s see a real study on this!

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