If you’ve always suspected that organic, heirloom tomatoes are tastier and healthier than the standard grocery-store variety, two new scientific papers back you up.

A recent study published in the journal Science found that the same genetic mutation that gives most mass-produced tomatoes a uniformly red appearance also blocks the production of their characteristic sugar and aromas.

Breeders found plants with the mutation—which turned out to be an inactivated gene—about 70 years ago and quickly realized its potential appeal to customers. Now, the vast majority of tomatoes include the mutation. Without it, tomatoes tend to have that ring of green or yellow on the stem end that you’ll find mainly at the farmers’ market or in your backyard garden.

Even tomatoes bred to be ground up into sauce or ketchup include the mutation because it makes it easier for growers to determine when they’re ripe and then harvest them all at once.

Using what they’d learned, researchers managed to genetically engineer tomatoes that keep the uniform ripening property while also producing the sugars and other compounds found in old-fashioned varieties. They couldn’t taste the results, though—eating experimental produce is not allowed under Department of Agriculture regulations.

Another study at the University of Barcelona found that organic tomatoes have more phenolic compounds—antioxidants that have been shown to have health benefits—than conventionally grown ones.

Interestingly, the study suggests the benefit comes from the tough life lived by organic plants. Without inorganic chemical fertilizers, plants activate their own natural defenses, producing more antioxidants.

Main image credit: Ionntag/Flickr