Organic vs Conventional Tomatoes: What’s the Difference?

So, you’re shopping for tomatoes and are faced with the decision of whether you buy the organic or non-organic. Aside from the price difference, there doesn’t appear to be anything special about the organic variety, so you choose the conventional kind. Sound familiar?

If so, we’re about to shed some light on the differences between the two varieties so that you can make a well-informed choice next time the opportunity arises.

Homegrown tomatoes

Organic tomatoes are grown under supervision

The first difference is that organic tomato farms and greenhouses undergo inspections every year. These inspections help ensure that the organic produce grown there have been produced in accordance with organic growing standards.

The farmers who operate these farms can often be surprised by unannounced inspections, too, in addition to those that are scheduled and expected. In comparison, inspections aren’t mandatory for produce that is non-organic.

Organic tomatoes are grown in smaller quantities

While it doesn’t have a direct impact on you, it’s interesting to note that organic tomatoes are grown in much smaller quantities than conventional tomatoes are. This is mostly because organic tomatoes take a lot more time and effort to produce, while conventional tomatoes are grown on a large scale because they can be easily managed using pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

Organic tomatoes are pesticide and fertilizer free

Non-organic growers can use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers for tomatoes, while organic growers cannot. Organic growers are forced to use other methods of pest control and fertilization.

One popular form or organic fertilizer is a mixture of rye and crimson clover, which is plowed under the soil to add nutrients. Alternatively, organic growers use compost to keep their tomatoes healthy and ensure their high quality.

On the other side of things, non-organic growers purchase and use commercial products that contain chemicals and toxins, which are released into the environment and absorbed into the tomatoes.

pile of tomatoes

Organic tomatoes are produced without irradiation

In layman’s terms, irradiation is a process that uses radiation energy to preserve foods. It’s primarily used to ensure the quality of food while it’s being transferred to grocery stores and is a common practice among the conventional produce industry.

In the case of organic tomatoes, this process is not used, which is why many types of organic produce seem to spoil faster than their non-organic counterparts.

Which Type of Tomato Is Best?

So, which type of tomato should you be spending your money on? Well, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and opinion. Since organic produce is more expensive, your budget can and should play a role in which type of produce you opt to consume. If you can’t afford the splurge for organic without leaving yourself with no money, then it’s not going to hurt to go for the conventional version.

Sure, organic produce is better for the earth and often aids local farmers and small businesses. However, there’s little evidence to prove that organic is actually better for your health, despite popular belief.

tomatoes in greenhouse

Frequently Asked Questions

Do organic tomatoes contain less chemical residue?

Yes and no. They do not contain residue of commercial chemicals but may contain traces of natural products.

Do organic foods taste better?

Some would argue that they do. This is because organic foods are more likely to be grown locally, which reduces transportation time and has produce arriving at the grocery store in a shorter amount of time.

Are non-organic seeds used for organic farming?

Most organic farms use organic seeds to start their crops. To use a non-organic seed, farmers must obtain permission from the governing certification body in their area.