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‘organic’ food – the greatest scam in the west

with 12 comments

vegg1

foison or poison?

 

[there is a] fashion to talk as if art were something different from nature, so that things artificial should be separated from things natural, as differing totally in kind… Things artificial differ from things natural not in form or essence, but only in the efficient.

Francis Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum, 1623

Someone at work offers me some food, from a cooking class she teaches. She describes it as very healthful, ‘and organic too’, she proudly confides. ‘Well of course, it’s organic, it’s food,’ I mildly reply. ‘Well, yes, but you know what I mean,’ she says.

Unfortunately, I did know what she meant. She meant ‘organic’ in the cheap, shallow, duplicitous, marketing way, not in the deep, scientific way.

And so I begin a piece that is long overdue, and which, I’m sure, will not win me any friends, assuming anybody reads it at all.

‘Organic’ food has been getting my goat for a few years now, and it’s time I laid out my objections based on the evidence I’ve accumulated over the years, while at the same time looking again at the evidence, just in case there’s something redeeming about this labelling and marketing practice that I’ve missed.

First, though, I’ll talk about marketing, which is the real focus of my ire. The term ‘organic food’, as so many people have pointed out, is tautologous. All food is organic, that is an unarguable, scientific fact. So it takes a deal of hubris, and, I reluctantly admit, a deal of marketing genius, to be able to sell a product and a process intended, quite deliberately, to cast doubt on the health and nutritional value of 99.999% of the food we eat. This is the scam of all scams, and what’s more, it has been entirely successful. Usually when we think of scams, we think of those who got caught – the Bernie Madoffs and Jeff Skillings of the world, the bad and the blameworthy who make us feel better for not being like them. Their scams are over, lessons learnt, systems tightened, vigilance heightened, but there’s no end in sight for the organic food scam. It’ll be with us for as long as the words ‘toxic chemicals’ have currency, and that’ll be around the twelfth of forever. What’s more, there’s no ‘body’ to blame, no obvious perpetrator or mastermind. In that way, and in more than a few others, it’s a bit like religion. 

I note that most people I know who swear by ‘organic’ food are also opposed to GMOs, suspicious of mainstream medicine, and dabblers in various pseudo-scientific approaches to health and well-being. They certainly place more value in ‘the fruits of the earth’ than the products of the lab. This article of faith has been labelled ‘the naturalistic fallacy’ by sceptics, though philosophers might quibble about that – as would I, having struggled over many years with that particular concept, introduced by philosopher George Moore more than a century ago. Probably better to label this way of thinking as ‘the appeal to nature’. In any case, it’s certainly an example of fallacious reasoning, as the insightful Francis Bacon was one of the first to point out.

My many qualms about the ‘organic’ food movement have been reinforced by a listen to the ever-reliable Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid piece on the subject, and I’ll use that as the basis, or at least the starting point, for this post. In fact, you might well be better off listening to Dunning’s analysis, which will doubtless be more comprehensive and concise than mine. I’m mainly writing this to get the information and the understanding of the issues more clearly lodged in my head.

The generally understood scientific term for an organic compound is one that’s produced by living entities. Chemically, it’s a carbon-based molecule with a carbon-hydrogen bond. Coal is an organic compound, and so, interestingly, is plastic. If the term ‘organic’ is used in any other way, you should be sceptical.  My scepticism compels me to use the term ‘organic’ food, with scare quotes, to highlight this dubious use.

In order to be certified ‘organic’, food and agricultural products must be produced under a set of guidelines which vary from country to country, and which are regulated in different ways in different places. This Wikipedia article provides some of the guidelines common to most western countries:

  • no human sewage sludge fertilizer used in cultivation of plants or feed of animals[1]
  • avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
  • use of farmland that has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
  • keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  • maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

So let’s look at the first three of these, which, presumably, are key to producing goods superior to, or healthier (and tastier) than goods that don’t earn the ‘organic’ label.

The issue of sludge fertiliser and its potential dangers isn’t really an ‘organic’ food issue, it’s one for any agricultural product. If you use sludge fertiliser, and it causes contamination to humans or animals, obviously there will be consequences for your business and yourself, whether you’re trying to produce ‘organic’ food or not. The ‘freedom from sewage sludge’ label that ‘organic’ foods are presumably entitled to display appears to be meaningless unless non-‘organic’ producers are all using the stuff. And even if they were, the issue is one of contaminants, not sewage sludge per se. I don’t know if this is an issue in Australia, but there is no evidence, out of the USA, that anyone is being contaminated by non-‘organic’ foods. No matter what the complexities of applying sludge in farming – organic or inorganic, treatment methods, etc – it is irrelevant to the ‘organic’ food issue. It appears to be used for ideological reasons, to hint that, somehow, somewhere, the use of untreated or improperly treated sludge is slowly killing us.

The second guideline, which for some reason incorporates the first guideline, rendering that guideline superfluous, is the key guideline to understanding the psychology of ‘organic’ food, and the ‘appeal to nature’ fallacy upon which it’s based. ‘Organic’ food producers must not use ‘synthetic’ fertilisers or pesticides ‘not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances’, in other words nothing synthetic of any kind.

‘Organic’ producers and marketers like to promote their products as fertilizer and pesticide free. This is complete bullshit. Virtually all agricultural products are subject to pest infestation and this needs to be dealt with, one way or another. Methods also need to be employed to enrich the soil, to render it more fertile. The only difference between ‘organic’ producers and the rest is that ‘organic’ producers are constrained by their anti-science ideology. Synthetic fertilizer, for example, involves the production of the key nutrients for plant growth – nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus – on a commercial scale. ‘Organic’ farming involves the same nutrients, but delivered the hard way, through fish and bone meal, earthworm castings and the like. The only difference is that these materials are more costly and less efficient, as they deliver a much lesser and more variable load of the nutrient per volume, and are thus less straightforward to use accurately and systematically, and are far costlier to transport. The use of synthetic fertilisers, as I’ve pointed out many times, has, with the improvement through hybridisation of particular grains and fruits, increased crop yields by ten times and more, and has saved the lives of millions since their introduction in the sixties.

But the real point here is the duplicity of labelling synthetic fertilizer, which is able to isolate and concentrate the required nutrients in the most efficient way, as ‘chemical’ (with the implication that it just might be toxic), as if the fertilizers used in ‘organic’ farming are somehow free from chemistry.

The third guideline mentioned above really shows how committed the ‘organic’ marketers are to scaring people about conventional farming. There is no need to keep conventional farmland free from ‘prohibited synthetical chemicals’ in order to use it for ‘organic’ farming. I wonder what is meant by ‘prohibited’ here? If they’re prohibited by government authorities, then of course you shouldn’t use the land – but then why would any farmer use such substances, thus poisoning her own produce? If they’re prohibited solely by ‘organic’ regulations, then they’re simply ideologically driven, arbitrary, and a product of the ‘appeal to nature’ fallacy.

As Dunning points out, ‘organic’ products are perfectly healthy and safe, but there’s no reason to believe they’re healthier and safer than non-‘organic’ products. I personally prefer to avoid eating too many processed food products because I think it’s better for our bodies to expend energy on the process of digestion, and because many processed foods have added sugar which our bodies don’t need and which can cause problems. I think there’s a fair amount of good scientific evidence for this approach to diet. I’ve not as yet encountered any scientific evidence for the benefits of ‘organic’ foods, except that they’re generally unprocessed and vegetarian, which is mostly good (don’t forget, though that a diet of potato chips is also vegetarian).

A perhaps more subtle, and superficially more cogent argument for ‘organic’ foods is the environmental argument. Okay, so conventional food isn’t poisoning us or giving us cancer or heart disease, but you gotta admit that it’s unsustainable. ‘Organic’ food really cares for the soil, it’s based on a deep connection with nature, a respect for the land, it gives as good as it takes, it’s about long-term sustainability. Conventional farming is, by contrast, instrumentalist, exploitative, impersonal, short-term, destructive etc etc.

This is a simplistic and ideological claim, not evidence-based. Firstly, let’s look at how conventional farming obtains its three key nutrients for enriching the soil. Nitrogen is, of course, freely available from the atmosphere and infinitely sustainable. Phosphorus is mined from phosphate rock, of which we have reserves to last centuries. Potassium comes from ancient ocean deposits, of which we have millenia of reserves. Of course these reserves are finite, so seawater extraction is considered a viable alternative, for both potassium and phosphorus. As Dunning points out, this creates a sustainable cycle as plant matter and farm runoff returns to the oceans, but ‘organic’ certification, at least in the US, doesn’t allow sustainable atmospheric and seawater extraction. ‘Organic’ chemical fertiliser can only be sourced from animal waste and other recycled resources, using criteria which are ideological rather than scientific, and so more or less arbitrary. Further, these resources can’t be marshalled in sufficiently commercial quantities to feed large populations, especially in developing countries where there just isn’t the infrastructure to make fertilisation under ‘organic’ guidelines viable on a commercial scale. ‘Organic’ farming is a distinctly western, middle class ideology.

It’s also insulting to conventional farmers to suggest that they’re more exploitative and short-term in their use of their own land. This goes as much for multinational agricultural concerns as for individual farmers. Both groups are interested in long-term viability, for obvious reasons. Crop rotation and other forms of long-term soil management have long been practised by conventional farmers, who must naturally balance these with other production concerns. This is surely grist for the mill for all agriculturalists, as they would wish to reduce the cost of applying fertiliser or herbicides wherever possible.

Returning to the pesticide/herbicide issue, it’s often harder, and more expensive, for ‘organic’ farmers to find ‘natural’ or plant-based chemicals to use instead of synthetic products, and these costs must needs be passed on to consumers. The synthetic products have, of course, been passing health and safety checks for decades. One such chemical, rotenone, a colourless, odourless ketone found in the seeds and stems of a number of plants including the jicama vine, has in recent years been all but abandoned, due to connections found between its use and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease among farm workers.

I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. I’ll end, as I began, with the use of language. There are plenty of organic entities, to use the word in its right way, that are poisonous to humans – be they berries or bugs, frogs or sea creatures. A fine example is the fugu fish, with its deadly poison, tetrododoxin, of which quantities are found in the skin, the skeleton, the intestines, the ovaries, and above all the liver. Eaten usually as sashimi (ie raw), it must be prepared by rigorously trained chefs, and even then you can never be sure – which seems to be essential to its charm as a delicacy. To quote from this travel advisor:

Tetrododoxin does not cross the blood-brain barrier, so the victims remain fully conscious while their central nervous system gradually shuts down, first producing dizziness and incoherent speech, then paralysing the muscles. This can lead to asphyxia, and possibly death. (There is no antidote for fugu poisoning).

Here’s one example, among many others, in which awareness of the ‘appeal to nature’ fallacy can be more than a bit useful. Bon appetit.
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Written by stewart henderson

July 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

12 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Illuminutti.

  2. “Organic” should by synonymous with FREE of chemicals, gmo’s, & agribiz exhaustion of resources and diversity. It should mean fair trade, care of workers, and professional oversight. As an idealist, the label should also include a commitment toward a FAR MORE vegetarian society as meat eating is not only cruel but incredibly wasteful.

    Jack Foolman

    August 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    • Thanks, but you should know, after reading my post, that if you ate food ‘free of chemicals’ you would be dead in a very short time, because you wouldn’t have eaten anything at all. Unfortunately, you didn’t read my post. To comment on a post without reading it seems to me rather rude.

      luigifun

      August 3, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      • Wowzy, and all this time I thought I was eating lightwaves. Keep the damn chemicals locked in the lab where they belong. Plants don’t need any Monkey meddling to produce nutrients.

        Jack Foolman

        August 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

  3. I am skeptical of naturally occuring (and added) fluoride in tap water, same as the labling of fluoride as a safe and effective means of preventing tooth decay by many water agencies and supposed public health orgs. Do I qualify as one of your friends worried about mass medications schemes? Honestly, I must express that the tone of your writing is far from what I consider discerning. As a 22 year-old who appreciates thoughtful criticism, it is difficult to see some one convey such disdain for skepticism in one instance, yet praise it in another. I percieve an article like yours to be a blow to skepticism on the whole rather than an elightened or rfined version of it. There are people who may be, as I am, eanestly trying to live a better life–trying to synthesize information that is often overwhelming, not to mention contradicting. In school, our textbooks are often written in a tone of unity, as if everything leads to some irrefutable truth about life, but life itself is harldy simple truth or fact. I took chemistry, and I understand that chemicals are present in everything, but is that really the irrefutable kind of conclusion you want people to draw from your article. That you cannot be overly paranoid about chemicals otherwise your being an incredulous ass. Try incorporating a little biology, or sociology into your argument: perspective from farmers, consumers of organics, epidemiologist, dieticians and chemists alike. I feel that your commentary in this case is shallow at best, and at worst categorizes people like me as fanatical. This could have been an educational experience for me. Suffice to say, what is most depressing is that is that I care a lot about whether people are misinformed, and I thought this article would reflect a better option for people who like myself have been trying to improve the quality of their food. So, I have to ask what is your intent by writing an article such as this, but to insult a persons lack of intelligence, troll on a trend that superficially resembles conscious food selection, or prove to the world that you are superior in your understanding of regulatory policy compared to westerners who are so evidently being scammed?

    Organic food is not a viable option for many people in the west. Part of it, unfortunately, has to with the sad notion that foods which are healthier are also more expensive. And “organic” food is seen as one of those healthy luxury commodities. What about that misconception wasn’t worth capitalizing on? Again, it was a moment to educate people. In that context, the marketing of a dollar menu would have made for an excellent expansion of this notion of unethical marketing. You only briefly consider processed foods, because well you say know to stay away from them. Although you are talking about predatory marketing schemes that abuse people’s fears, you don’t compare “organic” food marketing to any other food marketing. What about sugery cereal being shelved at heights known to be whithin a child’s line of sight? How about these other ways exploiting people, with arguably much more destructive impacts, and in ways that are much more widespread than organic food–like say a mcdonalds being pretty fucking close to every school I have ever went to? Why not direct people to the advantages of buying locally grown foods instead, or actually cite the studies which you claim are junk science and explain reasonably why they may be misleading. That way people can have a chance to try and refute your claims, or even better use it as an educational opportunity. If you were to present things that are empowering, this educational experience I keep referring to might actually happen.

    Furthermore, as you mentioned a lot of “organic” food consists of vegetables. This is true. And from experience with my friends and collegues, people seem to make an association between “organic” food and vegetables or a vegetarian diet. People who try to buy “organic” food might actually be eating more veggies (or trying), thus t r y i n g to make better food choices. Why not actually emphasize that we would do well as a society to eat more vegetables, grow our own, create a network of urban food producers, amongst your support for knowing chemistry and how it plays a role in food production. Afterall, might it do some good to at least consider the fact large agricultural facilities might face different problems other than whether or not we as consumer become poisoned by the use of pesticides. Lack of training in the use of pesticides, for example, being one of them. This is true especially with field workers who might be heavily exposed to them. What about that ethical question, who is doing that field work afterall. Might it be a group of people who are silent, and invisible (migrant workers with no domestic representation). What should be our attitude towards pesticides really be, but a last resort? Here is a guide I believe to be for international development i.e. literature for the type of developing countries you allude to (non-western societies). By the cover picture on the handbook and its affilliation to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) an organization whose credo is “research to nourish Africa” I have reason to believe it has to with developing agricultural systems in Africa in particular:

    http://old.iita.org/cms/articlefiles/92-Pesticide%20guide%20web%20final.pdf

    The first paragraph goes something like this:

    “This pesticide guide aims to improve the knowledge of extension
    agents, lead and elite farmers, and other service providers on how to
    use chemical pesticides responsibly and with care. It is important to
    stress that the use of chemical pesticides is undesirable and should be
    completely avoided wherever possible. All options for using alternative,
    non-chemical methods of crop protection should be explored first. Only if
    no other options are possible should chemical control be considered as a
    last resort. Remember that pesticides are poisons, and have a damaging
    effect on people and the environment.” (I.Y. Dugje, F. Ekeleme, A.Y. Kamara, et al)

    You mentioned transportation of products used by “organic” farmers being costlier when stating:

    “The only difference is that these materials are more costly and less efficient, as they deliver a much lesser and more variable load of the nutrient per volume, and are thus less straightforward to use accurately and systematically, and are far costlier to transport.”

    What of the transportation of food itself. Even if there is such great efficiency afforded by a more industrialized system of growing of crops (i.e. using sythetically made, chemically superior fertilizers), what good is it if that food ends up traveling thousands of miles before our consumption. Again, we can engineer solutions like chemicals that preserve the produce or cause it to rippen much later, but is it really the most viable solution–as you imply to care about–is it really cost effective? I think skepticism is excellent, but please do yourself a favor and write for a broader audience than people looking to put other people down because of a perceived lack of intelligence or group think mentality.

    Here is an example of a more balanced piece of writing, and please correct me with information where I may be incorrect or otherwise misinformed:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/3320660/Food-miles-that-leave-a-bad-taste.html

    Juan Diego Ashton

    August 4, 2013 at 9:28 am

  4. Thank you for that. Brilliant. From high school science, in the middle of last century, I had always thought that any growing organism, plant or animal, takes what chemicals it needs for growth from its food, or in plants’ case, soil. So I could never get my head round what “organic” food did that other food didn’t. And why it was any better. The soil may be better when we apply more humus, but i could never see how that could affect the chemical composition of what grew in it. You’ve neatly explained that, thank you.

    Lesley

    August 4, 2013 at 9:40 am

  5. Very nice article, I reblogged it on Tumblr.

  6. (please post this, as it is a slight revision of my previous comment.)

    I am skeptical of naturally occuring (and added) fluoride in tap water, same as the labling of fluoride as a safe and effective means of preventing tooth decay by many water agencies and supposed public health orgs. Do I qualify as one of your friends worried about mass medications schemes? Honestly, I must express that the tone of your writing is far from what I consider discerning. As a 22 year-old who appreciates thoughtful criticism, it is difficult to see some one convey such disdain for skepticism in one instance, yet praise it in another. I percieve an article like yours to be a blow to skepticism on the whole rather than an elightened or rfined version of it. There are people who may be, as I am, eanestly trying to live a better life–trying to synthesize information that is often overwhelming, not to mention contradicting. In school, our textbooks are often written in a tone of unity, as if everything leads to some irrefutable truth about life, but life itself is harldy simple truth or fact. I took chemistry, and I understand that chemicals are present in everything, but is that really the irrefutable kind of conclusion you want people to draw from your article. That you cannot be overly paranoid about chemicals otherwise your being an incredulous ass. Try incorporating a little biology, or sociology into your argument: perspective from farmers, consumers of “organics”, epidemiologist, dieticians and chemists alike. I feel that your commentary in this case is shallow at best, and at worst categorizes people like me as fanatical. This could have been an educational experience for me. Suffice to say, what is most depressing is that is that I care a lot about whether people are misinformed, and I thought this article would suggest a better option for people who like myself have been trying to improve the quality of their food. So, I have to ask what is your intent by writing an article such as this, but to insult a persons lack of intelligence, troll on a trend that superficially resembles conscious food selection, or prove to the world that you are superior in your understanding of regulatory policy compared to westerners who are so evidently being scammed?

    Organic food is not a viable option for many people in the west. Part of it, unfortunately, has to with the sad notion that foods which are healthier are also more expensive. And “organic” food is seen as one of those healthy luxury commodities. What about that misconception wasn’t worth capitalizing on? Again, it was a moment to educate people. In that context, the marketing of a dollar menu would have made for an excellent expansion of this notion of unethical marketing. You only briefly consider processed foods, because well you assert that you know to stay away from them and your decision IS backed by science. Although you are talking about predatory marketing schemes that abuse people’s fears, you don’t compare “organic” food marketing to any other food marketing. What about sugary cereal being shelved at heights known to be whithin a child’s line of sight? What about these other ways exploiting people, with arguably much more destructive impacts, and in ways that are much more widespread than “organic” food–like say a mcdonalds being pretty fucking close to every school I have ever went to? Why not direct people to the advantages of buying locally grown foods instead, or actually cite the studies which you claim are junk science and explain reasonably why they may be misleading. That way people can have a chance to try and refute your claims, or even better use it as an educational opportunity. If you were to present your qualms with “organics” with more empowering rhetoric that touches on peoples concern with the qulaity of food, this educational experience I keep referring to might actually happen.

    Furthermore, as you mentioned a lot of “organic” food consists of vegetables. Your article paints a picture that this should be obvious, becuase food in general is organic. From experience with my friends and collegues, people seem to make an association between “organic” food and vegetables or a vegetarian diet. On the surface it would seem that this is the most egregious part of it all. What a scam! However, is it not at the same time the truth that people who try to buy “organic” food might actually be eating more veggies as a result (or trying), thus t r y i n g to make better food choices. Why not actually redirect the effort and emphasize that we would do well as a society to get back to eating more vegetables, grow our own, create a network of urban food producers, amongst your support for knowing chemistry and how it plays a role in food production. Afterall, might it do some good to at least consider the fact large agricultural facilities might face problems other than whether or not we as consumer become poisoned by their use of pesticides. Lack of training in the use of pesticides, for example, posing risks for farm workers and the environemnt. This is true especially with field workers who might be heavily exposed to these chemicals. What about that ethical question: might it be a group of people who are silent, and invisible (migrant workers with no domestic representation) that may suffer most adversely from our idealistically efficient methods? What should our attitude towards pesticides really be, but a last resort? Here is a guide I believe to be for international development. It is literature for the type of developing countries you allude to (non-western societies). By the cover picture on the handbook and its affilliation to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) an organization whose credo is “research to nourish Africa” I have reason to believe it is intended for developing agricultural systems in Africa in particular:

    http://old.iita.org/cms/articlefiles/92-Pesticide%20guide%20web%20final.pdf

    The first paragraph goes something like this:

    “This pesticide guide aims to improve the knowledge of extension
    agents, lead and elite farmers, and other service providers on how to
    use chemical pesticides responsibly and with care. It is important to
    stress that the use of chemical pesticides is undesirable and should be
    completely avoided wherever possible. All options for using alternative,
    non-chemical methods of crop protection should be explored first. Only if
    no other options are possible should chemical control be considered as a
    last resort. Remember that pesticides are poisons, and have a damaging
    effect on people and the environment.” (I.Y. Dugje, F. Ekeleme, A.Y. Kamara, et al)

    You mentioned transportation of products used by “organic” farmers being costlier when stating:

    “The only difference is that these materials are more costly and less efficient, as they deliver a much lesser and more variable load of the nutrient per volume, and are thus less straightforward to use accurately and systematically, and are far costlier to transport.”

    What of the transportation of food itself. Even if there is such great efficiency afforded by a more industrialized system of growing of crops (i.e. using sythetically made, chemically superior fertilizers), what good is it if that food ends up traveling thousands of miles before our consumption. Again, we can engineer solutions like chemicals compunds that preserve the produce or cause it to ripen much later, but is it really the most viable solution–as you imply–is it really cost effective? I think skepticism is excellent, but please do yourself a favor and write for a broader audience than people looking to put other people down because of a perceived lack of intelligence or group think mentality.

    Here is an example of a more balanced piece of writing, and please correct me with information where I may be incorrect or otherwise misinformed:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/3320660/Food-miles-that-leave-a-bad-taste.html

    Juan Diego Ashton

    August 4, 2013 at 10:01 am

  7. Thanks for your comments Juan, which are unfortunately blighted by needless personal attacks. You begin by presenting yourself as a fluoridation skeptic. The evidence for the benefits of fluoridation is overwhelming. Here is a link to the Australian Dental Association’s recommendations (I’m writing from Australia), together with links to the World Health Organisation and to other international organisations, and links to the best research. This is too important an issue to be irresponsible about.
    http://www.ada.org.au/oralhealth/fln/fluoridation.aspx
    My focus in this article was on ‘organic’ food, not on other marketing scams. In other posts I’ve written about fad diets, spurious weight-loss pills and the dubious value of probiotics. You’ve claimed that ‘organic’ food is healthy. I haven’t denied this, but I’ve found no evidence to support the claim that, say an ‘organic’ apple or an ‘organic’ red wine is healthier than a conventional version. If you have any such evidence, please present it.
    The issue of eating locally rather than eating imported or distantly transported food is no doubt complex, having to do with local and general climatic conditions, production costs and many other economic and even political issues. My focus was simply on the fact that the ‘organic’ food label and its associated hype plays on the idea that conventional food is less healthy and even dangerous to eat. That strikes me as dodgy marketing, and I object to it.

    luigifun

    August 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

  8. I wont buy organic food on principle because I care about the environment. Organic farming is wasteful of both land and water which translates to a higher carbon cost. Anyone who is serious about being green and doing their bit for the environment should boycott organic food in my opinion. Its a wasteful western indulgence, it does not taste any better, does not keep as long (leading to yet more waste) and it costs more.

    Other tips that any would be organic hippy type should consider before waffling on about how good for the planet organic food is, include:
    – Become a vegetarian. Meat, like organic food, is also really wasteful of land and water. Organic meat is positively a criminaly wasteful.
    – Promote nuclear power. Nuclear power is envionmentaly friendly if you think otherwise then you simply don’t understand the science.
    – Get over your fear of GMO. Sorry but GMO is safe, it produces higher yields and needs less pesticides. This all reduces the carbon foot print from food production. You have been lied to by a well orchistrated group of campaigners with a vested interest in the “natural food” industry if you have been told otherwise.

    Ivan

    November 13, 2013 at 2:04 am

  9. […] regularly expressed irritation with the ‘organic’ food ideology, most particularly in this post, but I recognise that it appeals to a very diverse set of people, with perhaps a majority simply […]


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