They may be smaller but they’re also mightier. Organic tomatoes pack in more cancer-fighting phenols and vitamin C than conventionally grown tomatoes, according to research published in the journal PLOS ONE. But the organic tomatoes do tend to be about 40 percent tinier, so make sure your next tomato fight features the conventional kind.
From Mother Jones:
The authors hypothesize that the additional stress experienced by organic plants — having to fend off pests, scrounge harder for nutrients like nitrogen in soil, etc. — “resulted in oxidative stress and the accumulation of higher concentrations of soluble solids as sugars and other compounds contributing to fruit nutritional quality such as vitamin C and phenolic compounds.” In other words, when the plants suffer a bit, they generate more of these vital nutrients. And the same could be true for other phenol-rich fruits and vegetables.
If you’re excited about this news, that’s great! But don’t get too excited. Tomato season is summer and early fall, so even though our globalized industrial food system brings organic tomatoes to stores year-round, they won’t taste really good until several months from now, when they’re also more likely to be locally grown.