Organic Food No Better Than Conventional Food

Discussion in 'Organic Gardening' started by Millet, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. bedixon

    bedixon Active Member

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    I agree with Ron that the word "organic" has been watered down. There are different certifying organizations stating that this food in my hand in the produce section is organic....what does it mean? No pesticides at all? or pesticides deemed okay by that organization? Rotenone and pyrethrins are derived from plants and supposedly break down quickly and not dangerous to humans... but when used near water are bad news for the fish and aquatic life. it's up to us to find out what each definition of "organic is", and I'm sure most people just trust the symbol and not question it. The last I heard, gmo's are definitely not organic, yet you see a lot of organic corn products. This doesn't make sense if you believe reports that there's virtually no corn growing anywhere that hasn't been infected by gmo strains. A whole other discussion there... I think this subject goes way beyond whether food is more nutritional if it's organic. Soil that is used over and over to grow monocrops year after year can't be providing all the nutrients when they fertilize with NPK chemicals from bags. That's another discussion again... I'm more concerned these days with buying local. My local farmers may not get organic certification for many reasons, maybe they have treated fenceposts, or their neighbor is using chemicals... whatever, but the food is fresh, didn't travel 1500 miles and for the sake of a little sticker, tastes every bit as good (or better) than the big Ag California "organic".
     
  2. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Oh, I agree with both of you and I like to buy local, too, we are quite close here to a wonderful agricultural reserve which has many vegetable producers. "Organic" has become a relatively general term, and I don't think too many distinguish between that and "local", largely, I find myself using it when I mean "local"... . I was not quibbling with any of the fine-tuning in the definitions. I was mis-using them, although trying not to, I agree.
     
  3. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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  4. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sorry, I don't have the details to hand. Some were cited in New Scientist, others in some of my bird journals. No doubt I could find them if I had the inclination to go through a few hundred back issues of them, but it's a bit too tedious!
     
  5. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    RE: this remark : "Anyway, this will be my last post on this subject, as this is that type of subject, that is too clouded with pre-determined personal prejudices to ever come to a legitimate consensus."

    Thank goodness. This poster is clearly confused and I am glad he chooses not to muddle the debate.

    First, poster pretends to know what journals are respected and which are not... I guess he reads them all and has them catalogued in order of respectability and when he opines about one journal's respectability it is sacred. apparently this is a good one because he likes the 'result'

    Obviously, it's much better to consume something that is produced in a responsible, sustainable, way even if at the end of the day it is only a little better nutritionally. I mean ,we are in fact pretty much are in agreement that organic produce is superior nutritionally right? The only debate is how important that difference is to human health. And that question is a research nightmare, pretty much impossible to answer it in a meaninful way. So "respected" journal piece reads more like propaganda to me....

    There are so many obvious research problems. For example, in this study did one very large study group consume only organic (whatever that means) produce and the other equally large group consume only non organic produce and then we see who lives longer? This is IMPOSSIBLE to do for any meaningful length of time, at this point.. We have only been classifying food in this way for a fraction of an average human life span.

    Plus there is a littany of research that says pesticides are detrimental to human health. If certain amount is very bad for you then a smaller amount is just slightly less bad for you. I'd rather have the non pesticiede stuff even if some doctor says the difference is not 'significant' however he or she subjectively defines it. I don't want to be poisoned even a little.

    So Im glad you're not posting millet. I don't like your half baked propaganda or your sycophantic support for a flawed study you never read. please continue to spare us from your opinions.
     
  6. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Todd, your posting exactly exemplifies the point I made above. Anyway, I wish your garden well. Via Con Dios. - Millet (1,255-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  7. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

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    Todd, I do not agree with Millet's views, but your post was too ad hominem for this site. The more muddled you believe his posts to be, the more clear your responsive posts ought to be so that the contrast helps your cause.
     
  8. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    Perhaps these articles just out can shed some light on the confusion.

    "US consumers think natural is greener than organic, says survey"

    http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Fi...k-natural-is-greener-than-organic-says-survey

    "Organics not embraced by Canadian processed food makers: Report"
    http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/...aced-by-Canadian-processed-food-makers-Report

    "National Organic Program to undergo independent audit"
    http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/...-Organic-Program-to-undergo-independent-audit

    It's pretty obvious at this time that there is a lot of confusion and distrust of the word "Organic".
    I can only speculate how that has come about.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  9. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Soccerdad, let me point out that I cannot take credit for the views that were published concerning the lack of any additional nutritional benefits from consuming organic foods over conventional foods. These were the views of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Regards, - Millet (1,254-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  10. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Organic produce does always seem to be a contentious subject on the forums. The study that Millet mentioned in the opening thread looks like a good one to me. Here is the abstract directly from the American Society for Clinical Nutrition http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajcn.2009.28041v1 (I can download and read the entire article via UBC's subscription and it looks like good research to me.)

    ToddTheLorax, I think it is unfair to say that Millet is "clearly confused." This and a few of the other comments in your post are more attacks on the poster than the message.

    It seems unlikely to me that organic produce would generally taste much different or have much more or less nutrition than "conventionally" grown crops, unless chemicals were used in excess.

    Don't assume that I do not favor organic gardening methods however. I use no synthetic chemicals in my garden. It does seems likely to me that the chemical residues present on produce would not be ideal for health and we have seen studies indicating some of them as carcinogens. My main concern with the organic vs. chemical method is much more about the natural ecosystems. Natural environments have been balanced by nature. The introduction of chemical and other control methods can easily disrupt these balances. We see around the planet how difficult/impossible it can be to repair a damaged ecosystem.

    I doubt there would currently be over 6 billion people on the planet without the addition of synthetic fertilizers. I really don't think enough food could be grown. Our world is now far from natural and the best path (perhaps only path) may be somewhere between organic and synthetic.
     
  11. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    Thank you Eric.

    I am in agreement with the majority of your perspectives and your observations about complications of a planet dangerously overloaded with a dominant species.

    I hope that discussions of the current science and methods used to advance same can be civil and scholarly rather that caustic and vitriolic as many seem to have been in the recent past.

    It simply does not look good in a academic environment.

    There is too much time spent in drawing up lines of conflict and too little spent trying to understand and resolve issues.
    I too hope the childish personal attacks cease without administrative intervention or the loss of valuable contributors.

    Bob
     
  12. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    The researchers themselves state in their 4th paragraph that ......"The findings are bound to cause controversy"....... and I concur, therefore by the same reasoning I wrote...."this is that type of subject, that is too clouded with pre-determined personal prejudices to ever come to a legitimate consensus.".....

    For some reason when the organic method comes under any type of negative critical scrutiny, organic gardeners seem to take it as a person attack on themselves, and normally defend what has become a "semi-holy" method, with more or less the same arguments over and over.

    I believe organic gardening has a very good fit in small personal back yard gardens, where gardeners raise produce for their personal consumption. However, the organic method is an impossible fit in major world wide agriculture. I farm in Eastern Colorado on a very large scale, and there is absolutely NO WAY that organic practices would ever be possible. The amount of compost needed would be many tens of thousands of tons, and spraying with vinegar or a home made soap solutions to control insects would be a catastrophe. Just the labor of such practices would break the farm. Lastly, total organic farming would never come close to producing enough foodstuffs to feed the world's population. Even if by some miracle organic farming could possible produce enough foodstuffs to feed the world, the cost of production would put the prices far out of reach for many consumers.

    This does not mean that organic gardening is not an excellent method of growing ones vegetables. Personally I don't garden much any more, but did for many years. I tended not to use synthetic insecticides, but always used synthetic fertilizers. Compost was just too much of a hassle, and I never liked putting an animals waste on something I was going to eat. After spending much of the day in the fields farming, I just don't have the appetite to spend my evenings tending a garden. I presently do a lot with tropicals, (mainly citrus 100+ trees of all varieties), in a quite large greenhouse that was once used to grow starts for the farm. I wish the best to all of organic gardeners. - Millet (1,254-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  13. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    I thought your last post was several posts ago millet? As for launching ad hominem attacks on people, I'm not the only one getting off topic. This argument has now digressed into whether or not organic farming can sustain the human population, which is lightyears away from the original topic, regarding the health benefits of organic produce. Millet says, "However, the organic method is an impossible fit in major world wide agriculture." Well that's not what we are talking about is it? and it's not the subject of the study in the original post. Which maybe makes me think Im not the one with the axe to grind.......

    And, i mean this with all respect, I don't care about a moderator endorsing a study as 'good research'. Sorry Eric. Post it and let us decide. I'm educated and literate and I can read it. so if you're not willing (or legally unable) to post the study don't endorse it because an endorsement doesn't mean anything to me because I have my own brain.

    I think the posts on here to date more than cast the study in doubt. How did we define organic? did we really study that in a meaningful way? Tell me how the experiment was designed. I doubt seriously it was done in a serious way because of logistics. It would take too much time to do right, almost impossible. The whole idea, that it doesn't make a difference on 'human health', is so vague as to be meaningless. How did we define " a significant difference in human health'. It makes no sense on it's face. Life expectancy? How often subjects caught the flu? Doctor visits? Get real. If we can't agree on a measure, and we can't, and we can't measure anything in this time frame, then how good of a study do we have? I hate to say it, but this is a stupid argument.

    Unless the study was huge, took 4 or 5 decades, and took in at least all the factors above (and probably many many more), then it's a joke. And I disagree with the authors who ADMITTED it would be controversial. I doubt it's good enough to be controversial. I guess it's controversial in the sense lots of people will be skeptical, but that's almost a good reason to question it. If the people who wrote it CONCEDE WHEN THEY WROTE IT, it's going to be called into question it makes me think it's lousy and they know it.

    I like the studies when the authors themselves are convinced with their own data. How this is 'good research' really has me intrigued. I really need to read it. Right now it sounds like BS.

    Now if you want to have the argument millet seems to want to have, "organic gardening cannot support the human population" - - I totally agree, because I don't think the planet can support the human population indefinitely under ANY circumstances. But pesticides are not the answer to that question population control is.
     
  14. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    So Todd, do you have anything to add to this discussion relative to the topic?

    "Organic Food No Better Than Conventional Food "

    I think you kind of came in here with your guns blazing.

    What is the upside of that?
     
  15. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

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    Todd, ad hominem arguments are not justified by the fact that other people advance them too. As an educated and literate person you must know that. And surely you could present your arguments in a less shrill way. If you are writing just to please yourself, fine, but if you have hopes of influencing the views of those who read your posts, your style is counter productive. Imagine advancing an "argument" in such language back in graduate school; you would have been ridiculed.
     
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Like Eric I wonder why organic production would make the same cultivars taste better. I have seen statements that use of synthetics has not increased production significantly. People were growing food for a very long time before petrochemicals were introduced to the fields.
     
  17. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Yes, but back then the soil was way cleaner then it is today - must have been. I know there is something to this, because the produce today tastes nothing like it did when I was a kid. Our soil must be so badly depleted or toxic that it is affecting our food and the flavor. Why would we turn to organic methods in the first place?

    Nearly everyone I talk to about it, feels the same way. I find that true organic produce has a much more intense flavor, sweeter or something - no one will ever convince me otherwise.

    I do appreciate other people's views as well though, and I will not attack you nor ridicule you, for seeing things differently than me.

    : )

     
  18. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member

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  19. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    The following is a list of firms that have donated $50,000.00 or more to the organization that is attempting to critique the previous study.

    It sure looks like they all have a dog in this fight to me.

    Annie's Homegrown

    •Aurora Organic Dairy

    •Coleman Natural Foods

    •Driscoll's

    •Frontier Natural Products Coop

    •The Hain Celestial Group

    •Hidden Villa Ranch

    •Horizon Organic

    •Nature's Path

    •New Chapter, Inc.

    •New Hope Natural Media

    •O Organic

    •Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, Inc.

    •Pet Promise

    •Small Planet Foods

    •Solera Capital, LLC

    •Stonyfield Farm, Inc.

    •Sunflower Markets

    •Under the Canopy

    •United Natural Foods Inc.

    •Weil Lifestyle, LLC

    •WhiteWave Inc.

    •Whole Foods Market, Inc.
    Individual Cornerstone Donors
    •Steve Demos

    •Greg Engles

    •Gary & Margaret Hirshberg

    •Eugene Kahn

    •John Mackey

    •Bruce Nierenberg

    •Mark Retzloff

    •Walter Robb

    •Anthony Zolezzi

    Foundation & Organizational Cornerstone Donors
    •Funk Family Charitable Trust

    •Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation

    •Martin-Fabert Foundation

    •Organic Trade Association
     
  20. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    So what?? Someone has to fund studies, they're not free.

    Now post who funded the other study!
     
  21. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    Michael, the point I am making here is that the outcome of the study (critique) is predicable given the funding involved.

    It is becomming a rather large "Achilles heel" for pure research and something I am not fond of regardless of which side is doing the funding.
    The original "study" appears on the first posting of this thread and is stated like so:

    "As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition yesterday, the British-commissioned survey, which took its findings from 55 studies made in the past 50 years, claims that eating organic food "will make no important difference to a person's overall health".

    Unforunatley, is it not likely that we could identify who funded all those studies at this late date.
    It seems unlikely that 55 different studies could all come up with different findings though.
     
  22. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member

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    As indicated in the link I posted, the study which concluded that nutritionally, organic food is no better than conventional food was funded by the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency (FSA).
     
  23. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Doesn't it make a lot of sense that organic food may not be better nutritionally, but that it may be better purity-wise [i.e., healthwise?] I mean, if the fruit and vegetables aren't coated with pesticides which may not all wash off, or the meat contains hormones and antibiotics, etc.... I don't know enough biology to know how meat absorbs earlier additives to the animal's diet, but this seems possible. Also, both organic and locally-grown non-organic [whether or not it grew with pesticides or contains animal diet additives] probably taste better because they are fresh, because they may be older heritage varieties with a good strong taste... we need some scientific studies of all of these aspects, the "soft" taste aspects too...
     
  24. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Without commenting on the actual validity, or the non-validity, of the Organic Center's rebuttal, I would just say that never have I seen any study that was financially funded by parties that have a direct vested interest in the outcome, ever come to a conclusion, and publicly published, that was different from that desired by the parties paying the money. On the other hand, the Food Standards Agency of the government of Great Britain, had no ax to grind, either for the organic food side, or the conventional food side. That being said, no matter how much research, findings, results, conclusions, facts , evidence or authenticity a study demonstrates, the beliefs of many people who wish the results were otherwise, will never change their minds. Thus the old saying, "Don't confuse me with the facts." I agree with Eric, that claiming one type or another generally has a better taste is a red Herring. Lastly, the foodstuffs sold in todays supermarkets certainly are not, "coated with pesticides", that is just plain silliness. FDA reports show that the vast amount of foodstuffs even leaving from the farm level contains no detectable pesticide residue, even with the technology to check at parts per trillion. People can, and will, believe what ever they wish to believe, it might be simplest to just leave them be. - Millet (1,253-)
     
  25. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Well, I am glad to hear they are not coated with pesticides, although I have my doubts. I will always remain a skeptic about both sides, I think, in this debate. You are right, Millet, I think, that it is simplest to leave people be about these matters, except that regulations do have to be in place, and enforced, about residues in and on food. There are farm markets around us here, selling produce which, though local, may possibly have been grown with pesticides and which may have not been washed off -- less so than one would find from a large importer of California-grown fruits and vegetables in a supermarket, possibly. For the sake of discussion in this kind of forum, though, people should reduce the judgmental epithets like "silliness" -- not that my feelings are hurt, I understand this type of debate, but it would be pleasanter for some to have a good debate, with lots of actual citations to published studies, without the epithets in general use applying to participants' views. Nothing in intensity like the health care debate, the nuclear debate, the abortion debate, the euthanasia debate, the cats-running-free debate, although getting close! I'd be a lot happier if I were sure there were no pesticide residues on produce though, given that the fruit and vegetables might be noticeably buggier [found some on my recent local purchases, but no problem, just what nature provides...
     

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