General Discussion 108

Organic Food is a Nutritional Joke

jerry i h | Jun 2, 201209:06 AM

There is an old saying, and I paraphrase (shorthand for saying that I am too lazy to look up the actual quote): you are what you eat. If you eat good, nutritional food, you will be strong and healthy, contrariwise, if you eat fattening, sugary, nasty food, your health will be equally bad.
This is total nonsense, and I shudder to think how many people have mutated their existence attempting to confirm to this incorrect belief.

I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1980. At that time, http://www.ccof.org/ was merely a glint in the eyes of local farmers. When I bought a bag of, say apples or nectarines, the dude at the table in the farmers' market could tell me at what time and even which tree those fruits came from. Yes, more expensive than grocery stores, but he would always give you superior quality for your money.

I learned that 20 acres is, more or less, the limit of how much land a single guy (and maybe a couple of family members during harvest season) can till, de-rock, fertilize, water, care for, and love without hiring illegal workers. In my mind's eye, this is the genuine definition of “organic” food.

Clever 'organic' farms are really just regular, corporate farms who have slightly altered their agricultural and botanical practices to legally meet the easily-exploited requirements of 'organic'. There is little, if any, difference from ordinary corporate farms and 'organic' ones. A recall, from, say, E. coli is just as likely to occur as with generic supermarket or corporate agribusiness produce as from an organic farm (organic spinach, anyone?). Does using fertilizer from waste products make food any safer or healthier than using a bag of chemical fertilizer or seed stock that comes out from, say, Monsanto? Do they contain more vitamins, minerals, or fiber? Hmmm? How? Why?

Take a vegetable, say broccoli or cauliflower, and buy one from the supermarket and an organic one from a farmer's market (I was about to suggest this for apples, but it is not apple season; however I suggest you do this test in the fall getting the same apple variety from the generic supermarket and organic farmers' market). Cook up both in exactly the same way, and look, smell, and taste. Is there any difference? Do they both taste and look exactly the same? Yes, then why spend the extra $$$ on organic?

Neither does this contaminate our environment any less: ammonium nitrate will contaminate water supplies, and it does not make any difference if the source is organic or chemical.
However, there is one aspect that is helpful: organic discourages the use of insecticides and herbicides. A small farmer will use these chemicals, but sparingly if at all, because he understands that he is disrupting nature's balance, and will not use it prophylactically as is the practice at corporate/organic farms. Using, say, hand soap as an insecticide rather than Sevrin might make us feel better psychologically, but they will both end up drifting around our environment in unpredictable ways. Arguing which is more effective is an equally useless activity.

The above applies only to produce, but there is a such thing as organic meat. Here again, we must ask: is it effective or helpful? In this case, it discourages the prophylactic use of drugs and assorted hormones and enzymes; this is a very good thing, but we can accomplish the same thing with a short, simple law without the kabuki dance of being 'organic'. How does it benefit the cow or pig or chicken to eat field corn that is organic rather than not? Maybe husbandry: more humane treatment of animals destined to sit, butchered and cooked, in my sandwich? Perhaps it would be more effective to be vegetarian? Are the animals happier? Have more vitamins or minerals? Lower in fat? Taste better? Happier just before we butcher them? Beef that is grass-fed tastes better, not because grass is organic, but because grass tastes better (though some think corn-fed tastes nuttier and fattier).

It is important to love and care for our land. These are a gift from God, and we surely ought not to waste it, but nurture it. However, pretending that we are 'being organic' is not the same thing.

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