"Organic food is too expensive, there is no difference in the vitamins and minerals when compared to conventionally grown food and conventionally grown food looks better than its organic counter-part. Conventional food is unblemished, big, colorful and robust. You can't feed all the people in the world using organic and sustainable practices it is just not feasible. Huge monolithic conventional farms must continue to flourish if we as a civilization will be fed."
These are the arguments that the Industrial Food Complex (IFC) and their huge propaganda machine would have you believe. What scares me the most is that there is a large segment of our population that actually believes it. What is wrong here is that we are being bombarded with tainted studies and while I'm at it, tainted food. But who do we think we are, as consumers, to ask for a safe, fresh, chemical residue free, non-genetically modified food supply? Whatever were we thinking, who cares what resources are left for future generations as long as the IFC were able to profit from the environment's very demise today? What if we now have feminized striped bass in our water-ways? The fish is still good to eat, be it male or female, right?
We have what is called concentrated animal farm operations (CAFO's), where the living conditions of the animals are so deplorable they have to pump the animals full of hormones, antibiotics and other synthetic substances on a regular basis just to keep them eating. Then there is the waste from all these animals. Waste that contains the antibiotics and hormones that they've been fed. Where does the waste go from a CAFO? Let's say they are ninety-nine percent efficient at capturing all waste generated. It’s probably less, but I don't know for sure, so to be on the generous side let's say one percent gets out and pollutes the water table. One percent and our striped bass are being feminized.
I swear I have a vein popping out on my forehead as I read this stuff. Sometimes I see why Lewis Black's whole body is trembling as he talks to his audience about the illogical. There is a misconception that sustainable and organic practices aren't feasible and practical. It seems that perception is based on profit capability, not the benefit to the environment and our future generations. How much profit is enough and to what peril?
But I digress; I want to parse the first paragraph in order to give the other side of the argument. Organic food is too expensive. Studies suggest that when you look at the true cost of conventional production and shipping (the carbon footprint, labor, overhead, seed cost, transportation), unsustainable practices and the cost of fixing the environment from CAFO's and other huge conventional farm practices, organic food is cheaper. We ask customers where they live so we can tell them of local farms in their area so they don't have to drive as far.
It is important to note that local food grown conventionally is going to have far less chemicals and is healthier to eat. When was the last time you heard of a local vegetable recall or contamination compared to that of IFC's. Look at the decision making criteria of the two; a local farmer has his or her family to feed and bases their decision making with that in mind. For their food the local farmer eats what they produce. An executive in the IFC has his or her family to feed too. If they don't make a profit, they will not have a job in which to pay for the food their family needs (at least that’s how it used to be. It seems now you can lose billions and get paid millions.) An example of profit driven management decision making would be the peanut butter recall. The company had tests done years before that showed contamination. What did management do? I don't really know, what is known is that they didn't get rid of the problem and all of this was exposed because consumers got sick. Do you think those managers ate any of their own product knowing they had already identified contamination?
University of California Berkley research found that organic practices raised vitamin and mineral rates twenty-five percent over conventional counterparts (see the CNN health link on our blog page). Search the net and you will find articles supporting both sides of that argument. But it seems to me that most of the articles against organics are not coming from academia but private entities. But I'm jaded. I look at things from a logical, common sense stand point. For argument sake, let’s say every thing is equal between organic and conventional vegetables, except the chemical residue on the outside and inside of the vegetables. This much is fact; research shows that there are trace amounts of chemical residue on and in vegetables. Allowable trace amounts per regulations.
Trace residues of chemicals known to be carcinogenic are found on conventional vegetables. If there is a trace doesn't that mean the existence or presence of? Take microwave popcorn. As early as 1993 policy makers knew that Diacetyl causes lung cancer. Diacetyl was one of the chemicals in the butter flavoring of microwave popcorn. So in their opinion workers in the production of microwave popcorn had to wear protective breathing gear due to the hazard. But the general public, supposedly, were not at risk. Fast forward to 2008 and they find that a man who ate two bags a day for ten years has developed lung cancer caused by Diacetyl. To me that suggests that trace amounts add up. We are human which makes us prone to mistakes. Why don't we err on the side of caution and ban trace amounts totally?
People will mention studies done by scientist as an argument for trace amounts and point to the relative safety of these trace amounts. The monetary motivations of the few often contradict the safety of the masses. Case in point the medical journals in the 1900s supported smoking for years as a way to raise their revenue. To be fair these journals no longer support nor accept advertising dollars from big tobacco. My point is with enough money you can pay for a study that promotes your cause. You have to spend money in order to make money, isn't that how the adage goes?
Conventional food looks perfect, thanks to manmade chemicals that not only protect it from other Nature but from its own natural demise. The shelf lives are longer and they can be transported further distances. But then again there are those darn trace chemicals on the outside and inside of vegetables. Let's look at safety; we know for a fact striped bass are becoming feminized and tests are pointing towards hormones in the water table. God knows what other things are going on but you can bet feminized bass are not the only thing. Has anyone gotten sick and died from organic spinach? They did from conventional spinach from the IFC.
Organic vegetables don't have trace amounts of chemicals and are safer to eat. Next up is freshness and taste of conventionally grown food. Please, it has neither. Look internally, take taste for instance. Everything else being equal, when given a blind taste test more people will chose organic over conventional. Which is better, a store bought tomato or one purchased from a local farmer? Organic vegetables struggle to get nutrients out of the ground. Nietzsche said "that which does not kill us serves to make us stronger". I believe as others have written that a vegetable that struggles to get its nutrients out of the ground, versus those just sprayed with synthetic nutrients, will taste better. Plus no trace chemicals on organic veggies. Try it for yourself - get organic or local vegetables from a local farm and some from the supermarket. Cook them identically and take a blind taste test and see for yourself.
You can't feed all the people in the world using organic/sustainable agriculture. We did back in the early 1900's before chemicals were introduced. Research has advanced organic methods even further today. My comment to that argument- People are starving to death right now. The only thing the IFC guarantees is if you have the money you can eat.
I understand the use of propaganda, misinformation and down right misleading of information and facts. That is why one of the most important jobs local farmers have is the dissemination of information. It’s educating people about the dangers and more importantly the alternatives and what consumers can do about it. People say organic is bad because the business model is not designed around profit. It is designed around the health, welfare and sustainability of human beings and the ecology. Personally I do not have a problem with that.
Buy Local - From a farmer not a chain hard selling that fact.