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Monkey's choice

Postby Michael Jen on Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:30 am

Monkey's Choice
June 27th, 2007

From: ABC News Online

Animals at Copenhagen Zoo are going ape over organic bananas and other fruits, rejecting traditional foods left in their cages according to zookeepers. "For one reason or another, the tapirs and chimpanzees are choosing organically grown bananas over the others," keeper Niels Melchiorsen told the magazine Oekologisk Jordbrug (Organic Agriculture).

"Their choice is not at all random. The chimpanzees are able to tell the difference between the organic and the regular fruit," Melchiorsen reported. "If we give them organic and traditional bananas, they systematically choose the organic bananas, which they eat with the skin on. "But they peel the traditional bananas before eating them," he added.

Copenhagen Zoo, which hopes to be awarded a "green label" as an environmental zoo, began last year feeding its animals at least 10 percent organic products. It hopes to raise the level to 15 percent this year and reach 33 percent in 2005.

None of this surprises Australian nutritionist and international organic food expert Shane Heaton. Author of the major organic food report 'Organic farming, Food Quality and Human Health', Heaton suggests the animals may be choosing organically because of fewer pesticide residues, better taste, or higher nutrient content.

Heaton points to numerous published scientific feeding trials with rabbits, rats and chickens since 1984 that have consistently shown the same effect. 'But more importantly, more and more people are switching to organic food,' says Heaton. 'The organic market is growing by 20 to 30 per cent globally, because today's consumers want to know what is and is not in their food, and organic standards give them a very clear statement.'

German researcher Katrin Woese also reported in her 1997 literature review that 'animals distinguish between the foods on offer from the various agricultural systems and almost exclusively prefer organic produce'.

Heaton concludes 'Organic food is an important safe haven in today's polluted and processed world. Organic food is not a luxury. It is how food is supposed to be. Even a monkey knows that.'
Michael Jen

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