Many folk may have heard about the Stanford study that concluded that organic foods were no safer or healthier than conventional alternatives.
As one commentator has asked: is that really the case?
"The authors of the Stanford study inexplicably omitted certain nutrients from their comparison that have already been shown to be more concentrated in organic foods, such as vitamin C, polyphenols, and flavonoids. There are also several other studies showing higher content of various nutrients in organic foods. (And this doesn’t even consider the decreased exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria when eating organic foods.)
However I think the clincher lies elsewhere, because he goes on:
But when it comes to nutrient content, the biggest difference of all is not whether a food is organic or not, but how long it has been out of the ground before it is eaten. That’s why local foods are, on average, much more nutritious than foods that have been shipped across the country.
One of the co-author's of the study,Dena Bravata, makes another salient point when she argues,
“If you look beyond health effects, there are plenty of other reasons to buy organic instead of conventional,” noted Bravata. She listed taste preferences and concerns about the effects of conventional farming practices on the environment and animal welfare as some of the reasons people choose organic products.
My take on the issue isn't so much about consumption as I think it is idealisation to presume that you can eat foods -- or even just exist -- in this society without taking in a pollutant cocktail every day. Toxic substances are so pervasive that there is no way that you can live pure and free of them.
Better to change the society than kid yourself that you can protect your gut, skin and lungs from its impact by customising your individual choices.
However,for me, the key argument supporting 'organic' is not in the shop but how it is grown as I'm convinced that industrial farming habits -- reliant on pesticides, seed technology and petroleum based fertilisers -- are unsustainable . It's a question of production and ecology -- as contemporary farming practices are so brutal to the environment.
So I guess I'm a little out of step with many urban veg growers as I value the 'growing local' more than I do the 'organic'. That doesn't mean that I use spays and chemical mix fertilisers.
I grow 'organic' primarily because I respect my soil and value its sustainability.It's also cheaper in way of inputs despite the fact that my harvest may be less than conventional methods...and it's always fresher. Always!
Indeed as the slow food movement has pointed out, just because a foodstuff is labelled 'organic' it doesn't necessarily follow that it was farmed sustainably.
Although Slow Food supports the principles behind organic agriculture, such as promoting methods that have a low impact on the environment and reducing the use of pesticides, it also argues that organic agriculture, when practiced extensively, is similar to conventional monoculture cropping. Organic certification alone should therefore not be considered a sure sign that a product is grown sustainably. Most of the Slow Food Presidia practice organic techniques, however very few are officially certified on account of the high costs of certification.
So things may not be as they seem...
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