Organic holier-than-thou

Many claims are made about organic food, but where is the evidence? If you care about the environment, your health and are not price sensitive, organic food has many promises for you, but do they deliver?

1.It's better for your health.

No comprehensive studies have proven any health benefits of organic food over conventionally raised food. All farms use some for of pesticide. Organic farms are allowed to use pirithrin which is a known carcinogen in humans. Post war Britain was organic, but the life expectancy was 60 and food poisoning was rife. Organic food represents 1% of food consumed in the US and 8% of food recalls. Americans have also been eating GMO foods for the past 15 years without any adverse health effects. There is a higher chance of the prevalence of mycotoxins in the food as synthetic pesticides are forbidden. In light of the recent food poisoning outbreak in Germany that killed more people than the Gulf of Mexico spill and the Japanese nuclear disaster combined , there needs to be a government enquiry on the expansion and safety of the organic food industry. 

2. It tastes better.

The farmers markets do have fantastic fresh food which tastes great, alot of which is organic. However, are the taste attributes because it's organic, fresh, processed with love and care or genetically a different product? Grandma's food made from the produce of the back garden was always fantastic, but even Grandma would not be able to adhere to today's strict organic farming rules. There is also the perception deception of the halo effect which has been well documented. 60% of our organic food is imported in the $640 million dollar a year organic industry. The supermarkets are ready to cash in on organic consumers, that will be paying a premium for the foods' ideological promises.

3. It's better for the environment.

Organic farms  "use copper, they use the worst type of fungicide, a fungicide that is persistent and builds up in the soil to high levels, is toxic, and worse still, it's recently been shown that copper selects for bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics."

For the purpose of improving the soil, some organic farms need year round ground cover, the planting of which produces more nitrogen dioxide, a green house gas. If the manure is used for growing an organic crop for direct consumer consumption, it can produce 14 times more greenhouse gases that conventional farming, due to methane production.You need to include nitrogen dioxide which is the main GHG in agriculture. Conventional farmers can use nitrification inhibitors, organic farmers can not. Australia is a world leader in using technologies that limit nitrogen dioxide production. As many of these organic farms are smaller and produce less per square meter and lack the advantage of economies of scale, more resources are required to produce the equivalent conventional product, especially if deisel tractors are used for tilling. But organic farming was never invented to address greenhouse gases. Rudo lf Steiner, the father of organic farming came up with the ideology in pre-war Germany. (see references)

Organic farming is less productive per hectare. If we are going to feed 7 billion people, we need to clear native ecosystems and forests to produce more food. In a time where agriculture needs to produce more for less, this ideology is only relavent for the wealthy few.

David Tribe a microbiologist from Australia said it best, " I don't think organics is really a huge problem, provided it doesn't start influencing things well outside the proper niche for organic food. But it has real problems if it interferes with abundant food for poor people in the rest of the world. "

References:

"The great organic myths: Why organic foods are an indulgence the world can't afford They're not healthier or better for the environment – and they're packed with pesticides. In an age of climate change and shortages, these foods are an indugence the world can't afford, argues environmental expert Rob Johnston." (Click here)

Thinking about sending your child to a Waldorf school to learn about the virtues of organic living? One of the founding fathers of organic ideology, Rudolf Steiner had many theories on life, distastefully: many revolving around race. "You see, when we really study science and history, we must conclude that if people become increasingly strong, they will also become increasingly stupid. If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense if men do not arrive at a form of intelligence that is independent of blondness. Blond hair actually bestows intelligence. ... It is indeed true that the more the fair individuals die out the more will the instinctive wisdom of humans vanish." [Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Schools. Health and Illness: Volume I, p86. (1922) Spring Valley: Anthroposophic press, 1981]

Here are a small clip from Penn and Teller that might shed new light on where a total organic world might lead us. ( Warning: Strong language warning )