Plants can be fed organically ( avoiding the use of pesticides, using organic matter to provide nutrients), inorganically ( using chemical fertilizers ), or soilessly when the roots are fed by a hydroponic solution or bathed in an aeroponic mist. Which of these methods leads to the best plant health, and does this also translate to highest nutrient density?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because "the health and nutritional aspects of fruits/vegetables" is off-topic on this site. gardening.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic
    – GardenerJ
    Jan 26, 2016 at 14:05
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    I vote for it to stay open. It's a question of nutrient quantity not nutrient quality nor about health aspects of either consequence. This is not a subjective question, but one that could be measured in a lab.
    – Escoce
    Jan 26, 2016 at 15:20
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    It is possibly an interesting question, but it is not a question about gardening, landscaping, or any tags in this site.
    – user13580
    Jan 27, 2016 at 3:29
  • For reference this has a lot of information on the topic "Do soilless culture systems have an influence on product quality of vegetables?" edoc.hu-berlin.de/oa/articles/reMpRZba9vp/PDF/208DDKUFxVNwI.pdf Jan 29, 2016 at 12:04
  • Since you're asking this question, you may also want to know that UV rays can increase the nutrients in plants (although they can be harmful to plants at the same time). You may also be interested in remineralization (via such as sea minerals, rockdust, soil amendments that provide additional or specific nutrients, etc.) You may also be interested to know that clay soil is generally more nutrient-dense than other soils, despite being more compact and harder to grow certain things in. Feb 1, 2016 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


There is not evidence either way about which taste better, and which have more nutrients. However, organic farming is generally associated with sustainable techniques which reduce or eliminate the amount of artificial inputs into the system. So if you are conscious of things like that, then organic is the way to go. I personally am an organic advocate, but I don't proselytize because it just hurts the movement to do so.


There is some evidence which suggests that food produced organically in soil has more nutrients than food grown non organically. With regard to hydroponics, I don't have any information, but given that a lot of fertiliser used in hydroponics is of non organic origin, then likely it is lower in nutrients. See link below for info on soil grown crops, organically grown and non organically grown


It's certainly true that fruit and vegetables these days do not contain the same levels of nutrients as they did 60 years ago - I can't quote this with any certainty, but it was something like, the nutrients in one orange 60 years ago are equivalent to 3 or 4 oranges today. An explanation for this is likely to do with growing methods and a switch to chemical fertilizers by producers, whereas organic growing concentrates on keeping the soil healthy rather than feeding plants directly, but it's something I've been meaning to do research on, particularly with new indoor, year round growing methods in soilless (though not necessarily hydroponic) mediums using LED lights being successfully trialed and eventually available commercially.

From a health point of view, foodstuffs grown non organically will have some nutrition - it just might not be optimum nutrition.

  • Being an organic advocate I would agree with you that organic is more nutritive but there are as many studies disputing it as there are supporting it, therefore the studies kind of wash each other out.
    – Escoce
    Jan 27, 2016 at 13:45
  • @Escoce - yea, I know, and one of the problems is, they don't compare growing techniques, that is, what precisely are the organic growers putting on or into the ground at various times - particular types of organic materials contribute different elements to the growing plants. And if its not in the soil, it doesn't end up in the plant...
    – Bamboo
    Jan 27, 2016 at 14:51
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    As long as the bioavailability of the elements necessary for the plant roots is present, it doesn't matter how you grow them. Ultimately organic methods provide matter which is reduced to chemicals which is how the roots feed so saying that inorganic methods produce lower quality food is simply untrue. Jan 28, 2016 at 21:24

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