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Jul 31, 2006 12:46 PM

Which foods taste better organic?

So I generally buy whichever produce looks better. Was buying "ugly tomatoes" that were local and organic but they were all about to expire when I went yesterday to WF. I bought local conventional instead. Maybe it's the variety they grew, but nothing like the organic ones.
What is your experience, does organic usually taste better? Which items do you think will generally taste better organic?

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  1. If you grow the same strain of tomatoes or anything conventional vs. organic they will taste the same. The things that control flavor are the breed/strain, the location, amount of sun, temperature, humidity, quality of soil and fertilization,and other factors like hydroponic, greenhouses, or outdoors.

    The term Organic doesn't have anything to do with taste. It just means that no synthetic substances were used in the production.

    There is good and bad organic farming just like there is good and bad conventional farming.

    12 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      Are you actually suggesting that soil content has no impact on a plant's flavor? All other things being equal, a mixture of organic compost and worm castings will produce a far superior tomato than a petroleum derived NPK "soil" base.

      1. re: JMF

        Sorry, but that's completely wrong. Chemical fertilizers grow plants at unnatural speeds. Anything (animal, vegetable) grown the old-fashioned way has both more nutrients and often more taste.

        Btw, we now have industrial organic farming, which is different from the old-fashioned way.

        1. re: foiegras

          That sounds like conjecture to me. Do you have any evidence supporting your contentions?

          1. re: Josh

            Here's a PubMed article making this claim.


            As far as taste...Well, perhaps our tastebuds like to taste more nutritious stuff, but then again, if that were true fewer people would eat fast/junk food.

            1. re: MollyGee

              The problem with junk food is that it's too nutritious.

              1. re: MollyGee

                Interesting find. I'd like to know a little bit more about the vegetables in question. i.e. what aspect of the organic farming yielded such a difference - or did it? Were the varieties of the vegetables tested identical?

                Intriguing though - thanks.

                1. re: MollyGee

                  That's just a survey of existing literature, so probably no controls whatsoever.

                  1. re: MollyGee

                    Robert Lauriston, review literature "reviews" other literature. It doesn't report any new experiments, hence no control if no experiment.

                    1. re: MollyGee

                      If there's no control, then the conclusions are meaningless.

                      1. re: MollyGee

                        There's lots of links about this issue here:


                        Some of the studies reviewed by the author originally cited above *did* have controls. The most conclusive studies have been on grapefruit, potatoes and leafy greens. Some of the links given by the CCOF above contain arguments that the results of these studies are inconclusive. I have yet to find an article that conclusively says that there is no difference between conventianal and organic produce or that conventional produce is more ntritious than organic produce.

                        1. re: MollyGee

                          I'm confused as to why people are suggesting that there are no controls in this survey. Yes, this is a review of existing literature and yes, it is impossible to use a control when conducting a review, but all of the studies it is reviewing used controls. People are essentially suggesting that scientific reviews are intrinsically invalid.

                          As to what aspect of the farming yields a difference: to me the situation is completely intuitive. A complex, whole soil nurtures a complex, whole plant which nurtures a complex, whole human. What we are doing with industrial agriculture is taking hundreds of thousands of years of soil, plant and human evolution and throwing it all out the window by saying we can reduce this complex organism (an organism that we still do not fully understand) down to NPK. Any soil scientist who is not on Monsanto's payroll will agreee that this preposition is completely absurd. Personally, I feel that it is the responsibility of industrial agriculture to prove nutritional equivalence because they are the ones who are instituting a drastic change in where our food comes from and what we eat.

                          Other individuals are welcome to risk their health on industrial agriculture's assumptions, but I'd rather eat the food that my ancestors have been eating for thousands of years; the food that I evolved to eat and the food that evolved to feed me.

                    2. re: JMF

                      The only thing I can taste a significant difference in is milk; organic milk is enjoyable whereas I find conventional milk downright gross (unless loaded with Ovaltine!).

                      Other than milk, I can say I've had good and bad meats and produce in both organic and conventional categories.

                    3. In my experience organic usually taste better. I specially like organic fruit. I had the most delicious organic nectarines a while back and I try to buy as much organic as I can.

                      1. Its not produce, but the number one thing I think tastes better organic are eggs. Organic eggs from a local farmer are so much better than commerical eggs. The yolk in an organic egg are almost tangerine orange and incredibly rich.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mattesq

                          I totally concur. This also has an impact on how fresh the eggs are, and the diet of the chickens, which TOTALLY changes the flavor.

                          Another difference can be found between conventional beef and beef that has been grass fed and is free range; you would definitely notice a difference in texture and flavor

                        2. I'd say that any taste differences you encounter are due more to a general improvement in the care of the crop than the fact that it's organic. You can have home-grown fruits and vegetables that were sprayed with pesticides that still taste amazing.

                          Most organic farms are small in size, and run by independent farmers who care about their produce.

                          1. Organic free range eggs and milk are always superior to nonorganic versions.

                            The best produce is local, seasonal, and organic. Local cuts down on transportation costs and polutants and insures freshness. Seasonal gives you peak produce. And organic is better for the Earth, the farm workers, and your body.

                            An organic peach in November from Chile is not going to taste as a good a local seasonal apple.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: JudiAU

                              "Organic free range eggs and milk are always superior"

                              WRONG! The worst eggs I have ever had in my life were organic free range. It is a generalization that organic is better, and in this case the generalization led me to a big mistake. Eggs are a good example of "you are what you eat". I don't know what this farmer was letting his chickens eat, but boy did it get into the eggs. They tasted like rotten vegetables, which is probably what he was feeding them. My then-gf (now spouse) loves organic, and neither of us could finish these things, they were so bad.

                              An organic farmer in Maine, near where my dad's farm is, made a similar mistake when one of his cows got into some trash and ate some grapefruit rinds. Ruined the milk for days.

                              The truer assessment is that, until its Walmartization, organic implied a greater care for what went into the raising of a crop or animal, and that was the real key to its better flavor. Also, many species grown by organic farmers are chosen for their taste, not their ability to withstand a tractor-trailer for four days.

                              It's as JMF posted above, organic by itself is not a guarantee of better tasting. It pays to know the source of the food, regardless of your choice of organic or not.

                              1. re: Loren3

                                Were they orangic and "vegetarian" eggs? A lot of organic eggs come from vegetarian-fed chickens who produce terrible eggs. It seems odd to me that people would impose a vegetarian lifestyle on animals that, like robins, really enjoy worms/bugs.

                                1. re: SKing

                                  I'm pretty sure "vegetarian" eggs are just called that because chickens aren't fed animal meal, not because they're prevented from eating bugs.

                              2. re: JudiAU

                                I decided after reading all of the above to do a taste test. On my island here in Hawaii, we have wild chickens. I caught one, caged it, and waited for an egg. (I moved the cage regularly so that it would stay on its regular diet of centipedes, bugs, etc.) When I got one, I bought two sets of eggs from the store, one organic and the other non. The eggs were all brown shell and the dates on the purchased ones were within days of each other. The results:

                                The wild chicken egg was smaller than the others. The yolk was golden and very thick, even when cooked "sunny side up". It was delicious.

                                The organic egg was outstanding in taste, larger than the wild one, and the yolk was yellower than the non-organic, but not as rich in color as the wild one.

                                The non-organic egg was very bland compared to the other two and the color of the yolk was muted.

                                I don't have time to deal with wild chickens, so I am going with the organic ones.

                                Someone mentioned above that different organic "brands" can vary in taste. I will get the brand I used and post it if anyone is interested.