A study was published in the Annals of Internal medicine has everyone talking, since it purports to show that organic isn’t healthier. I found the original article here but it is only the study summary. One thing to note about summaries, is that they are the author’s conclusions. You can draw different conclusions from the same information. every article I’ve read has taken the authors conclusions to heart without any analysis.
- Organic isn’t more nutritious- I never thought it was. All the arguments about “depleted soil” and “our food isn’t as nutritious as what are ancestors ate.” are bunk too. Most of the nutrients we get from plants are created by the plant from sunlight, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and trace amounts of minerals and chemicals in the soil.
- Organic isn’t significantly lower in pesticides- I’ll rebutt that in their own words:
Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets, but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum, urine, breast milk, and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences. All estimates of differences in nutrient and contaminant levels in foods were highly heterogeneous except for the estimate for phosphorus; phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce, although this difference is not clinically significant. The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small.
Less pesticides in your kids isn’t better???
What did they just say? They found less pesticides in the urine of children fed organic food. How is that not better? They found the risk of being contaminated with pesticide residue smaller in organic. However, on the bright side, even your pesticide user has no greater risk of exceeding the maximum allowed limit. So which is better? We have an allowed limit of pesticide contamination, and whether you eat organic or not, you don’t have a high risk of exceeding the allowed limit. If you show me two peaches, one has 5 parts per million of a chemical, and one has 25 parts, I’ll take the lower one, thank you. We also have a government set limit of rat feces in canned food. I’ll take the uncontaminated one, if you please. The government limits are set by politicians, who have to balance the risk to people with the economic needs of farmers and chemical companies. They have to compromise, you and I don’t.
3. Organic didn’t lower rates of allergy symptoms. – Is someone claiming it does?
4. Organic had lower rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria, although no better rate of avoiding bacterial contamination. -Not promoting antibiotic resistant bacteria isn’t a good goal?
Never say never.
I’m a realist, I’m not an ideologue. I may even use some chemicals, at some point, in my own garden. If a farmer is going to lose his whole crop to army caterpillars or some other pest, I can’t always say never, under any circumstances do anything. We have almost 10 billion people to feed, we need to consider that. However, I think avoiding chemicals whenever possible is a good thing. My overriding philosophy is the Law of Unintended Consequences, that we just don’t know the ramifications of everything we do until it is too late. We have been conducting a chemistry experiment on ourselves for the last 100 years, and we won’t know all the ramifications for the next 100. Why not err on the side of caution and proceed slowly? I’ve been hearing so much lately about the rise in autism, how do we know that isn’t a by product of this grand chemical cocktail we’ve been consuming?
Not 100% pesticide free.
One last point- the study said that organic produce isn’t guaranteed to be pesticide free. True, If I spray pesticides, they aren’t just going to land in my field. Also, everyone isn’t always honest. However I still say we should at least try. Humans are heard animals- when a trend goes a certain direction, we all head that way. The organic and slow food movements are at least keeping the heard milling about, rather than stampeding towards an unknown future of chemically created foods. Lets think more than once before spraying substances that kill life and then eating those substances. We depend on our gut bacteria for our health and we are eating chemicals that could kill them, or change them into something that is not beneficial. Now there’s a scary thought!