The backstory to this week’s column. . .
Hi – I decided to write about organic foods, and key off yet another piece, this one from TIME magazine, that questions whether there are any benefits to eating “organic.” As usual, when some basic beliefs are questioned, whether man-made/devastating global warming, the value of recycling, or in this case the health benefits of organic foods (and the “harm” of conventionally farmed produce) people take it personally – and I hear from them!
I wanted to write about this issue because the value of organic foods has taken on a spiritual import that’s way outsized to any benefits! If people want to spend more on the stuff, that’s their deal. But slogans like “think locally, act globally, buy organic” quite literally make no sense. There’s just no reason to believe that organic farming – definitions of which vary widely – or widely used “natural” pesticides and fertilizers like manure, are any better for the earth than their man-made counterparts. (We do know that organic farming takes a lot more farmland to produce the same amount conventionally farmed land does – I’m not sure how the environmentalists feel about that.)
Further, I think a lot of times the major producers of organics, I mean the big corporations that are now selling heavily processed organic anything and everything (worthless but more expensive) are really exploiting people’s fears.
The evidence is piling up that organic foods offer no additional health benefits, and that the trace amounts of pesticides etc. from the conventionally farmed (and much cheaper) variety does us no harm. And if eating organic means people “feel” good, so then they decide they’ve done a healthy thing and now they don’t have to do truly healthy but more difficult things like exercise, stop-smoking, or lose weight, then the organics have done some harm.
I guess I just think the whole organic boom is another all-American “easy” fix – that doesn’t fix anything. Thanks for reading!