Aug 25

A New Look at Organic Foods

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!

Betsy Hart and No Organics Here!

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Author: Betsy


James D Oakes
August 25, 2007

Your rant against organic food is puzzling in that it failed to analyze the effects of non-organic farming methods upon watersheds, air quality, and the health of the surrounding biological region. By limiting your thinking to “About what’s best for my family” you imply that only buying “cheap, luscious-looking produce from the conventionally farmed food aisles” is in your family’s, and by extension, the community’s best interest. This myopic approach is akin to a Maginot defense toward sustainable living and does not offer logical, reasoned solutions to sustaining our economy, environment, and individual and collective health.

When thinking locally, consumers wanting to do “what’s best for (their) family” may do well to consider the distance their food travels from the farm. Strawberries in January are all well and good, but the cultural implications that your column puts forward only further the me-first, shop till you drop, want it – gotta have it world that our ultra-consumerist society has fostered. Living and eating with the seasons, and yes, organically, isn’t some Whole Foods/Whole Paychecks polyannish approach to saving the world. It is however, a feasible choice for some – not all, maybe not even the majority, but some. However, solutions to what ails our bio-region and this world’s environment, aren’t going to be shrink-wrapped and delivered via FedEx to our doorsteps. The solutions are going to be incremental, and will need to leverage our ingenuity to scientifically build better approaches. Recycling is just one example of this.

Maybe you used to feel self-righteous about taking your newspapers to the end of the driveway for pick-up and felt oppressed by others or your own expectations. However, labeling others that recycle with the intent to be better stewards of the environment is disingenuous. If our communities do not want to address issues that come with increased population, then we’ll continue to slide into a lower standard of living. The Greatest Generation provided us with shining examples of what can be accomplished with a little bit of sacrifice for the greater good. Imagine the supreme sacrifice of instead of eating Strawberries in January, one would eat root vegetables, apples or other seasonal fruits and vegetables (sarcasm intended)!

The time for giving at the office, expecting the government to solve our problems because they’ve taxed half of our earnings is past. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own consumption. Much like Speaker Pelosi, you criticize without offering solutions, and bash those striving to do better instead of offering any feasible solutions of your own. I hope you can see your way through your cynicism, for even a moment, to consider and analyze alternatives before casting a pox on all who are trying to make a difference.

August 25, 2007

This is the first time I have replied to a column before but felt that with so many potential readers of your article it is absolutely necessary. I am sure that you would like to expand your research beyond just that of Time magazine in order to provide your readers with an informed opinion. Although organic agriculture takes more land the use of pesticides poisons our water supplies and devastates natural communities. Growing up on industrial agriculture food products I have spent time researching beyond Time magazine and have learned that local organic agriculture has not only nutritional benefits against pesticide laden foods but benefits our environment and reduces our dependence on oil. We have lost our food culture in the United States because of the ease of shopping for industrial produced foods. This laziness has distanced us from important connections to land and seasons. Here are a couple of books and articles you should check out that will help better inform you.

The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
“Toxic Pesticides Above Safe Levels in Many U.S. Residents”

August 25, 2007

Dear Sally-
Just finished reading your article about organic foods….I feel sorry for you! you are unable to understand the link between what we put in our mouths and our health and you quote media doctors to back you up. You have a radio show in Chicago–were you born there? It is so interesting to me how we can be influenced by the areas we grow up in. I was born and raised in the Midwest but after college moved west and am happy to say I have broadened my mind and I don’t need the media or the doctors or anyone to tell me that food laced with fertilizers and pesticides and God knows whatever else is good for me. If this is what you prefer, fine, but then don’t try to convince others. And your family??! don’t you want to feed your children the best they can possibly eat? Why would you want to gamble with their health….? (By the way, I love Midwesterners and still have relatives there)

If you interested and want to expand your thoughts, I would be glad to send you the address of a local co-op paper…… is excellent and covers many of the topics you seem to know all about………but do you?

August 25, 2007

Hi Friends – I appreciate the many comments and mail I’ve gotten on this column. (Scroll down to Today’s Parenting Tip on “organics” to see more responses.)

I’ve actually written about this issue more than once – going back to when I only had 3 kids! I found this column from 2000 I thought I would post in it’s entirety in case you are interested:

As always, thanks for reading and participating in the discussion! — SUMMER is just about here. And with its approach come thoughts of fabulous, juicy, sweet, inexpensive and available fruits and lots of delicious vegetables. Move over tangerines. Bring on the strawberries.

Another thing than can “move over” is all the organic products flooding grocery store shelves and, more and more these days, entire grocery store chains. You know what I mean — the produce, bread products, meat and dairy items kept “pure” from herbicides, pesticides, preservatives and other synthetic chemicals.

Well, these organic items may be all the rage for their supposed “natural” benefits. But when I head to my local grocery store I avoid organic things like the plague. Why? Not just because such “natural” products often look awful and cost a lot more. But because I’ve got three little kids to worry about and I want the healthiest food available for them.

You see, the most likely cause of food-borne illness is not herbicides, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals. Although these have been peddled to today’s American mom as dangerous, they’ve been shown over and over again by the Food and Drug Administration to be safe for her children at levels hundreds and thousands of times above what anyone could actually consume in a lifetime.

The primary cause of food-borne illnesses are actually “naturally occurring pathogens — disease-producing organisms and their products,” according to food safety expert Dr. Dean Cliver of the University of California, Davis.

In other words, it’s the “natural” stuff that poses the biggest threats to children and for that matter the rest of us — not just the potentially deadly e.coli, but also things like salmonella, listeria and a host of other all-natural bacteria and organisms sometimes contaminating the food, other times produced by the food itself.

Now it’s true that America has the safest food supply in the world. And much of the problem of food-borne illness that we do have could be avoided by proper handling, refrigerating, cleaning, and cooking of food. The problem of many pathogens could be further, dramatically mitigated by irradiation, a process that sends a kind of harmless x-ray through food, safely destroying many harmful bacteria. (Food safety experts applaud such technology, recently allowed by the FDA for some products and already in use in others, while so-called food safety activists often oppose it.)

But the bottom line for me as a mom is that, as Dr. Ruth Kava of the American Council of Science and Health told me, “You’re not going to get sick from the pesticides used in your salad. But you might get sick from the e. coli.” Yes, produce from whatever its source can be contaminated through improper handling, and needs to be appropriately washed. But in addition, organic foods are often fertilized with animal manure, Kava explained, and that’s a haven for the e.coli bacteria. Properly composted manure shouldn’t pose a risk. But there are very few guidelines to ensure appropriate handling of animal fertilizers, and Kava knows of at least one outbreak of e. coli in organically grown lettuce. Synthetic fertilizers pose no such risk, so thanks, I’ll go man-made.

I also prefer, for instance, to have fungicide used on the wheat in the bread products I buy. That’s because I’d rather consume traces of the harmless synthetic chemical than be regularly exposed to aflatoxins — a potent “natural” carcinogen — in moldy bread. (Our food supply is rife with organic carcinogens that would have to be banned by the FDA if they were produced in factories instead of animals and plants.) Further, synthetic chemicals help to keep food fresher and make it last longer. That means it’s more likely to get eaten and impart healthful benefits to my family than its “natural” counterparts that may well spoil too quickly.

Finally, as Kava explained there’s no evidence that “organic” foods impart any particular health benefits whatsoever. Their big danger, she said, may be that they give those who buy and use them a false sense of added food safety, making those who consume them more careless when it comes to the proper care and handling of food.

So once again this season I’ll take those conventionally grown big, red rosy summer tomatoes over their “natural” counterparts anyday. And I, and my family, will enjoy and benefit from every bite of them.

August 25, 2007

Dear Betsy,
I second both comments on your article and post.
While it’s true that eating organic food cannot be a moral compensation for driving a Hummer (just like recycling is no solution to overconsumption), there is a real concern in the use of pesticides and genetic modification.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of long term studies that relate the ingestion of pesticides and genetically modified foods with health problems, but just because of that, you can’t unilaterally assume that eating poison is good or that is has no effect on the water, the soil and the tiny little animals that live in it and allow it to regenerate.

Publishing your thoughts in a newspaper requires thinking about how people will react. There is a responsibility in freedom of speech, if you choose to call yourself a thinker.

August 25, 2007

I saw your column in the San Diego Union Trib this AM. Boy you nailed this one. I am married to a food nazi that has the “inside” knowledge that the big corps are out to kill everybody. They are actually going to start puting rat poison in our water too. My resident wacko can’t seem to reconcile that our daughter-in-law, who is also a chemist with a big pharmo, has to be part of the conspiricy to keep everybody sick, including our grandson, just so big pharmo and the AMA can make a lot of money. Go figure. Do a little research on “complementary, alternative, and integrative” medicine for another massive con job going on.

August 26, 2007

Hi Betsy,
James D. Oakes’ posting summed up my feelings very eloquently.

Eating organic is not about your selfish “what’s in it for me” perspective. It’s about eating food that doesn’t poison and ravage our earth, torture animals, and expose workers to toxics and dangerous working conditions.

If you don’t feel compelled to spend a little extra for food to make the world a better place for future generations, please keep it to yourself and don’t try to discourage others from being conscientious consumers.


August 26, 2007

James D. Oakes and Curt clearly know that the sustainablity of the biosphere must be given top priority over any other consideration.

Judy Neldam
August 26, 2007

My advice to Betsy is to spend a week on an industrial farm and then spend a week on an organic farm and then tell her readers what she plans to put on the table for her family. The cigarette industry fought like hell for decades to first deny and then conceal the dramatic health risks of smoking. When profits are involved, corporations cannot be trusted to put the good of the community in front of the pocketbook of the shareholder. America’s corporate food industry has vigorously fought food labeling for years. They don’t want consumers to know what’s in their products. In Europe, truth in labeling is standard practice and consumers are allowed to make an informed decision regarding what they want and what they don’t want to eat. Regarding life expectancy–American average life expectancy is lower than that of every Western European nation, Japan, and several other nations and the United States now has a very dangerous obesity epidemic underway. Betsy hasn’t done her research and that’s what makes her brand of journalism reckless and irresponsible.

G. Dodd
August 26, 2007

Cudos on your article on orgainc. Since the headline used the work Debunking, I suspect most who would rather feel good than think will skip reading it.

May I suggest a headline “Pesticides in Organic Foods”. Since a large number think organic mens pesticide free they may read it and will be surprised to learn that “Organic foods” are produced with pesticides. Who says that a pesticide produced in nature is safer than one compounded in a labratory? For example arsenic is an organic pesticide. If diluted enough it may be safe.

Who will insist on “organic” medicine when their child is ill?

Telling the truth about the organic movement is not popular and required a good deal of research. And the profit motive is lacking. Still it ought to be done.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Double thanks if you actually think about what is said!

Judy Neldam
August 26, 2007

Organic foods are produced without chemical or man-made pesticides. If you prefer chemical pesticides in your foods – you have a right to choose them. However, the industrial food industry is trying to prevent accurate food labeling because they want to remove consumer choice regarding organic vs. industrial. In Europe, truth in labeling is the standard, here in the U.S. it is a lobbyists battlefield.

I am glad that you prefer chemicals to organics because the demand for organic is now rapidly outpacing the supply.

August 26, 2007

Hi friends – I was just about to post the same sentiment as G. Dodd. Thanks for writing. I’ve literally seen some studies that show that, for instance, an organic Thanksgiving dinner, from the cranberries to the turkey to the apple pie, would still be loaded with natural carcinogens and chemicals, and there is simply no reason to think they are safer than the made made variety. One example I noted above is that the naturally ocurring mold in bread not treated by chemical preservatives is a known carcinogen. No thanks!

Another example is milk which contains HGH a manmade grotwh hormone. I have no strong feelings about it one way or the other except that with 4 kids I really like cheap milk. But I watch friends and family shelling out 2 – 3 times as much for a gallon of the organic variety – which is flooded with natural growth hormones from the cow herself. Hello – that’s what breast milk/cow’s milk is – growth hormones! (the amount of HGH added is so tiny,it’s a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of estrogen the human body produces in a day, btw.) I actually respect the folks who argue that cow’s milk shouldn’t be a human food at all. I haven’t researched THAT issue and the science on the matter, I just prefer that take rather than spending a huge amount of money in the mistaken belief that one growth hormone is really any different from another (they are indistinguishable under a microscope.)

I thought of you all when I saw fully procesed organic brown sugar in the store today literally 3 times as expensive as the mainstream stuff. Now that’s just silly.

Oh, and while e-coli outbreaks can occur anywhere, one of the last major ones was from an “organic” spinach farm. In other words, there are no guarantees. But here’s what really bugs me: Irradiation, of course, which is a harmless sort of microwaving, could kill all sorts of awful pathogens from e-coli to salmonella, from strawberries to beef, but the organic and natural food crowd has been almost universally opposed to it. It seems to me there is some attachment to “nature” – that truly makes no sense.

Here’s the bottom line, and I don’t know why this upsets people so much – nature (hence the word “natural”) can be dangerous, even deadly. Civilized Man’s entire history has been about overcoming the ravages of nature. I’m not about to turn back now.

Go ahead and splurge if you want to on the organic stuff. Maybe you just think it tastes better, I don’t know. But those of us on a food budget don’t have to feel in the least bit guilty, or less healthy, because we buy stuff with manmade and naturally ocurring ehcmicals – the old fashioned way!

Again, thanks to all of you for getting in on this discussion!

Have a great day – Betsy

Al Zurawski
August 26, 2007

I agree with both your Sunday article and your post. Pesticides and fertilizers in conventional farming provide a healthy volume of food at a low cost that organic farming can never match. Millions of people in the world would starve without the productivity of conventional farming. I think we can find solutions to whatever negatives there are to conventional farming without doing a 180 to organic.

Judy Neldam
August 27, 2007

While Americans are fatter than any time in history, millions on this planet are starving and industrial farming is doing nothing to stop it. It’s easy to spot industry “talking points” on this blog. The truth is – informed consumers are demanding clean food and so the industrial food industry is trying to start a whispering campaign. It’s very transparent. Again, I would say to Al, Betsy and the rest of you local, organic naysayers – go spend a week on an industrial farm and then spend a week on a REAL farm and write back and tell us which food you want to feed your children. I simply can’t believe none of you are not just a little concerned about consuming a big bowl of pesticide soup every day . . the highest concentrations are in foods like peanuts, apples and strawberries – food children eat regularly. I will not take that risk with my kids.

Judy Neldam
August 27, 2007

Question – why does a cow need growth hormones? Answer – to fatten it more quickly and to make more profit for the milk or beef producer. For generations, Bossie has done just fine producing healthy unadulterated milk without hormones . . .it’s the quest for the almighty buck that has changed the milk industry.

Question – why are feedlot cattle routinely given antibiotics? Answer – because squalid feedlot conditions create rampant disease and antibiotics are the only way to control that disease. Are these antibiotics stored in the fat cells of these animals – yes. Are they then transferred to the humans that consume them – yes. For centuries cattle have lived their lives peacefully out on pastures consuming the food God intended for them – GRASS . . .not corn. Again, the quest for the almighty buck has interfered with the nature to the detriment of the cow and man. Organic is food produced the way God intended . . .naturally . . .

Betty Myers
August 27, 2007

Great and accurate article. The only thing better about organics is their advertising.
They DO USE PESTICIDES. Check out the government websites for the available ones allowed. Organics is a joke. There’s a fool born every minute.

August 27, 2007

Thanks for the article – you’ve said what we’ve been thinking and saying for years. Unless you know who raised your produce and meat and dairy cows, you can’t say for sure that you know how it was done.

What irks me is hype that organics is ‘chemical free’. Open your eyes, America. Biopesticide production is increasing by leaps and bounds. Why? Because organic farmers use biopesticides. So do conventional farmers. What’s the difference? Money for advertising and the time to do it.

We (conventional farmers) are too busy producing over 90% of the nations food supply to bother with hype.

Betty Myers
August 27, 2007

“Although organic agriculture takes more land the use of pesticides poisons our water supplies and devastates natural communities.”
This statement is not true. Soil and Water has been testing wells for years and has found NO pesticides in the water. Please don’t spread your lies to frighten people. Which is the other thing that organic growers do better than convention growers.

Jim DiPeso
August 27, 2007

A review of studies comparing organic with conventional agriculture, published last year in the journal Crop Management by a German farm economist, found that organic farming has several significant environmental advantages over conventional agriculture, including:

Greater floral and faunal diversity on the landscape;

Better soil fertility conservation and superior erosion control;

Fewer emissions of ammonia, which can cause overfertilization of water bodies and lead to the creation of “dead zones,” such as the dead zone at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico;

Significantly lower air contamination from pesticide drift;

Higher energy efficiency, due to lower use of fossil-energy intensive inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers;

Somewhat lower carbon dioxide emissions.

While organic techniques are not a cure-all for reducing agriculture’s environmental impacts, it sets a benchmark for improvement.

Betsy gives the impression that the world outside her front door doesn’t matter. Well, it does. How we grow food affects the environment that sustains our existence. Betsy’s kids will inherit the world that we leave behind.

Judy Neldam
August 27, 2007

I live and work in a town surrounded by organic farms and I can tell all the contributors to this site that the people doing this work are the most dedicated, genuine and hard working group in America. They work for low wages but they love what they do and the produce, meat and eggs sold at our local farmer’s market is simply incomparable to what is found in the supermarket. Historically, local family farms were the bedrock of communities across America and across the world and I would like nothing more than to see a return to that lifestyle. The use of DDT was outlawed in the United States decades ago, but vast regions all over the world are regularly farming with U.S. banned pesticides and are then shipping their products back to the United States. Just look at what’s going on in China right now. So, if having a heavily pesticide dosed strawberry in January is worth it to you – that’s fine by me, but don’t mock people that prefer to know their farmer and want their food source to be clean. Before the introduction of chemical pesticides, farmer sought various creative and natural methods to help control pests in their fields. The whole notion that
“biopesticide” and DDT are the same is utter hogwash and is just a cheesy attempt by the multi-national corporate food giants to diminish the growing demand for local organic foods.

Thomas Begen
August 27, 2007

Your article lacks any specific examples of what you were arguing. It seems like you need to do more research on this topic. The only thing I will agree with is that since non-organic produce is cheaper, people consume more of that, than animal products.

You are correct when you say produce only contains trace amounts of pesticides. Versus meat and other animal products which have hundreds to million times more the amount of pesticides because of the animals being fed pesticide laced produce, or animals, for some godforsaken reason. So from this perspective you would be correct in assuming that trace amounts of pesticides are harmless.

Look at it this way, would you knowingly consume a pesticide, no matter how small the amount, tsp, 1/4 tsp, a few drops, even a DROP? I’ll tell you my answer, NO I would not consume even the smallest amount if it were possible.

It is understandable that people live on a tight budget, and cannot always, if ever, purchase organics. If you were to buy any organics, I would recommend that you only stick to organic meat or animal products, if you eat animal products.

I don’t because there is no good reason to. If anything you should write an article on the dangers of meat and animal products. To reiturate, chemicals, pesticide residue, and so forth accumulate in any animals’ fat cells. So wether it is a cow or you, pesticides do accumulate in the fat cells, and they will always remain in your body.

So my point is if you don’t want to consume pesticides, then don’t eat animal products. I consume organic pruduce whenever possible because every little bit counts. If people want organic pruduce their best bet is to grow your own. It doesn’t get much better!!! The quality and taste of the food from my garden is far better than you will find in a supermarket, organic or not. I know not everyone can have a garden, and those that can, can’t grow everything that they want or like, but every little bit counts.

August 27, 2007

You said “But slogans like ‘think locally, act globally, buy organic’ quite literally make no sense.”

Last I heard, the expression was “think globally and act locally.”

Which brings me to a point no one has mentioned here! I didn’t read the TIME article, but the cover (if it were TIME) said that buying LOCALLY grown produce is more important than buying organic produce. I don’t know if this is true, but it seems obvious that it’s important to cut down on the fuel costs (and the resulting pollution) of transporting produce from far away! Not to mention helping independent, local farms and businesses (and the farmland) – and actually getting to know those people personally. Of course, chances are you can buy food that’s both local and organic if you wish. Also, as a certain fictional independent bookseller said about buying from stores like hers: “(You get) the satisfaction of knowing your money is SUSTAINING your community, not laying WASTE to it.”

However, buying from local farmers’ markets obviously means giving up most tropical or near-tropical produce (unless you lived in the South), but why complain so long as you can manage a balanced diet? If you’re frugal enough and keep your life’s priorities straight, chances are you can afford it.

Judy Neldam
August 27, 2007

Local – organic in that order is probably the key, but most small farmers nowadays are practicing organic methods. The advantages are many – you get food that is truly “farm fresh, you can even meet the farmer that is producing your food, you will reduce the need for petroleum which lowers pollution rates and by supporting your local farm businesses you help maintain local jobs and those farm employees pay local taxes, and revenue circulates in your own community rather than going away. I don’t see any downside to that.

Susan Bartley
August 27, 2007

You are a self-centered, typical airhead. You wrote a mindless opinion piece about the waste of time it is to eat organic food (based on the well known food company apologist Dr. Gupta’s opinions – nothing like having done your own research, not…) BUT you miss the biggest point of eating and buying organic food, which is to PROTECT OUR CHILDREN from chemicals in the groundwater – a well well documented FACT – you know, those pesky things you don’t like to think about. STOP being so self-centered – organic food doesn’t help MEMEMEME. And think about our children!

madelaine whitticomb
August 27, 2007

As the head of the Children’s Christian Caucus, we have been discussing, as Rick Warren wants us to, what Jesus would tell us to do in being good stewards of our planet. We agreed that even though God made us in charge, Jesus would not have been ok with pesticides on his food. Imagine what would have happened if the loaves and fishes had mercury and chemicals in them. I just don’t think it is in God’s plan. You need to be a better Christian and set an example for others who are not as fortunate.

Betty Myers
August 27, 2007

Susan Bartley

>You are the self-centered, typical airhead.
Pesticides have NOT contaminated our water.

Arnold Wagner
August 27, 2007

Dear Betty,
It is obvious that you do not read. Why should you when you are working all day double shifts at minimum wage just to get Velveta on your table…Bless your heart…A

Betty Myers
August 27, 2007

Judy Neldam Says:

I live and work in a town surrounded by organic farms and I can tell all the contributors to this site that the people doing this work are the most dedicated, genuine and hard working group in America.”

ALL farmers are hard working.

Betty Myers
August 27, 2007

Arnold Wagner
Dear Betty,
It is obvious that you do not read. Why should you when you are
working all day double shifts at minimum wage just to get
Velveta on your table…Bless your heart…A

Arnold, I work for less than minimum I have a real farm.

Judy Neldam
August 27, 2007

Betty Myers:

You should google pesticides and groundwater and see what comes up . . . pesticide contamination of water sources is constantly being monitored by municipalities across the country. It is always a cause for concern.

Judy Neldam
August 27, 2007


One more question – if you are a hard working farmer then why are you putting the knock on other hard working farmers making different choices than the ones you are making? You choose pesticides – they don’t. However, I believe there is no such thing as a safe cigarette and there is no truly safe chemical pesticide either.

Al Zurawski
August 27, 2007

To: Betsy, Wow! did you get this many personal derogatory comments when you wrote a similar article before?
My occupation is not in the food industry as one comment suggested. My comment supported the merits of conventional farming and did not bad mouth organic farmers. I suggest that if in fact the merits of organic farming are so obvious that both the consumer and business will move in that direction without the need to vilify conventional farming.
To Madelaine, I am a Christian. Let Christ and God the Father put forth Their own opinions. We already have too many people doing interpretations for Them. I really think They have some bigger issues to deal with than organic vs conventional farming.

August 27, 2007

Friends, no one needs to be unkind or insulting here. (Comments like “brainless” are just not helpful.)

Regarding Pesticides in water, it’s very likely the case that they are in water runoff, especially in agricultural areas. So are the natural chemicals produced by “organic” food, or and the “natural” fertilizers used on organic food, like manure. But natural or manmade, they turn up in the water in such tiny amounts as to not be harmful. Is it possible they could be in some instances? Yes. I think it’s smart to continually monitor the water supply for that and many reasons.

Now, remember the “arsenic in the drinking water” scare of a few years go? Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical, by the way. (Ahem.) Anyway, lawmakers were set to spend BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars, that could go instead to protecting kids or getting them better education, to get it out of the water. Finally, it was discovered that the amounts in the water were some infinitesimal amount that had probably always been there – and was totally safe.

But to a lot of people, it just would have felt good to have spent that money to “fix” the problem.

Friends, it always comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. Few options are typically “pure” and without implications (or costs or benefits) to other areas of our lives.

By the way, I have done extensive research on this issue since 2000, and have written frequently on it. This was one of a long line of columns of mine on the issue. One of my columns from 2001 is one of the first entries here. I don’t pretend to be an expert. But as a mom of four, I do want to think clearly about the choices I make, and look at the data to make the best choices for my family. The way we make choices (feelings vs. thinking vs. some combination) – and our desire to live in a world where “pure” choices have no consequences – fascinates me.

Anyway, Madalaine’s comment struck me the most. I found it incredibly disturbing. The idea that we have any basis on which to determine that Jesus would not approve pesticides is appalling. Madalaine, by your reasoning, Christ would also oppose the printing of the Bible itself. Do you have any idea the sheer volume of chemicals and dead trees used to print the millions of Bibles produced each year? When Bibles were so rare because they were hand written and only a few people had them – well the world was free of those chemicals! Is that a trade off He would make?

Consider the abundance of food in the world today. It is so cheap and plentiful, that even in Sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest part of the world, food production is up by 25% per capital. My mom told me to eat my dinner because children in China were starving. Today China is a food EXPORTING nation. Unthinkable. Millions of children’s lives have been saved because now they have cheap, available nutritious food. For one reason: modern farming methods, including man-made fertilizers and pesticides. Are you suggesting you have any Biblical basis to say that Christ would oppose such a thing? I’m not arguing He’s “for” it mind you, though I would point out that the food HE made is loaded with natural chemicals. But the larger point is that He gave man an amazing brain, the “Ultimate Resource” as one great economist put it, and we can use that to minimize man’s suffering. Modern agricultural is an extraordinary example of that!

(Don’t even start me on the 3 million lives that are lost every year in Africa since DDT was banned. Mostly pregnant women and children. Yes, it was shown to harmful to some bird shells when it was used heavily in agriculture. It made them thinner. Minute amounts sprayed on huts has never been shown to cause human illness but it saved countless lives before being essentially banned by the “know-it-all” west. What a tragedy, and no wonder scientists are finally clamoring to bring it back now.)

I’ll leave it at that for now. I love discussion going on here. Let’s just keep it kind, okay?

Thank you – Betsy

Alan Schmidt
August 27, 2007

If you believe that we are stewards of the beautiful Earth that God created for us, like I do, you would do well to not stand up for the use of (petro-)chemicals to grow food (fertilizers and pesticides), because these chemicals are bad for people who harvest the food and who live nearby, as well as bad for the land and animals. Remember: The ‘2nd Comandment’ given by Jesus was “Love your neighbor as yourself”. What of our neighbors on this planet who have no choice but to drink water contaminated with such filth and poison because they live near a farm that uses nasty chemicals? The organic food movement is good for the land and people, and that includes you and I and our children, even if you and I cannot always afford the sometimes expensive produce. It is getting cheaper. Please research and respond.

Betty Myers
August 27, 2007

. pesticide contamination of water sources is constantly
being monitored by municipalities across the country. It is
always a cause for concern.”

MONITOR, just like they do for MTBEs. Which ARE known to cause problems.
I never knock any hard working person. For some reason my statements are usually in response to someone who makes false statements about conventional growing. For years farmers have ignored the ignorance of such things, I don’t any more. Please read more carefully.

August 27, 2007

Betsy Hart’s article was a really irresponsible, pure opinion article. People are trying to do good things with organic food and farming. If you choose not to buy, you do not need to denigrate those that do. It is really not about Betsy personally that people are farming without pesticides. I am sure she will be screaming the loudest when her tax dollars go to cleaning up the polluted rivers made undrinkable from what she call conventional farming that has nothing to do with agriculture that has been practiced for 10,000 years. Her bottom line approach to food is up to her. I enjoy meeting the people who grow and handle mine. I wonder if she even knows anyone who is an agricultural worker. She might think differently.

August 28, 2007

Were you being sarcastic here, or have you really missed the whole point of sustainable food?

Betty Myers
August 28, 2007

Lynn:I wonder if she even knows anyone who is
an agricultural worker.

What did you mean by this remark? I am an agricultural worker.

Sally, Who are you talking too?

August 28, 2007

First of all, thank you for the well written and informative article. I am a third generation farmer in New York and I am tired of all the misinformation spouted by the organic movement. I have no problem with anyone that wants to grow organically, but just don’t lie to people about it. They (the organic movement) claim that they don’t use pesticides. This is one of their most believed lies. They do use them and they are even allowed to use some synthetic ones and still be considered organic. How do I know this? We use some of the organic pesticides, if they actually work (they usually don’t, but that is another issue). Given my profession and the fact that we attend farmer’s market to sell our produce, I feel it’s important to be as well-informed as possible. I’ve read numerous articles and books from both sides of this issue and I feel that I (as well as most people in my business) am better informed about this than most people. I did great amounts of research just before my first daughter was born 5 years ago, as any concerned new parent would do. I am confident in our practices and do not feel like a bad parent letting both of my daughters eat all of our produce directly from the fields unwashed (I’m sure some organic activist will try to report this as child abuse).
I amazes me that most organic advocates think that because I’m a non-organic farmer, that I must be ignorant or just plain stupid to still be using chemicals on our farm. Do they really think that I would intentionally harm my family? Farmers and their families are the ones who would be at risk if there were a problem, because we eat it first. Not to mention that we are also the ones who handle the chemicals in their concentrated state when we need to apply them. If the problem were as great as the media makes it, we’d be having an unusually high number of cancer-related deaths on farm, but we don’t. On the contrary, farmers are some of the longest living people in this country. I sure wish some organic activist could explain that to this dumb farmer.
One little fact about chemicals before I go. Did you know that you get more (natural) chemicals from a single cup of coffee (yes, even the organic, free-trade, shade-grown, etc…coffee) than you get from an entire year of eating conventionally grown produce? Thanks again for the article.

Robert Frei
August 28, 2007

Betsy, if you want to get truly informed about the dangers of many products, I suggest you go over to This man is a doctor, and has very informed articles on the dangers of eating regular mass produced foods.

I am a testament to organics, in that I keep my weight down, as I have been overweight most of my life, until now. They are more healthy, and I back this up by purchasing nothing but organic, and do the research to make sure the company isnt just slapping an organic label on the product(

I use to be the skeptic, which is why I did my research, and I stand firm behind organic foods. I absolutely refuse to buy anything that isn’t organic, because now I know what those pesticides, growth hormones, genetically modified foods do to the body, long term.


August 28, 2007 Isn’t that the website where the guy is trying to sell his book and such?

That sounds unbiased….

Robert Frei
August 28, 2007

What book? Lots of good information on that website. Give it a look if you want to know.

Judy Neldam
August 28, 2007


Your comments about “chemicals” and coffee are complete balderdash. Conventional farming is what it is and organic farming is what it is and consumers should have the choice to decide for themselves what they want to buy. Agribusiness is spending millions to try to prevent accurate product labeling (i.e. GMO’s, growth hormones, country of origin etc.). In Europe this practice is standard. The truth is that consumers are worried about the chemical soup in our environment and food is just one source of those chemicals. Those worried consumers have a right to choose local organic foods and they are doing that right now. This worries conventional farmers and they have reacted by trying to attack the organic industry. It’s dishonest and unethical.

Betty Myers
August 28, 2007

Judy,”Those worried consumers
have a right to choose local organic foods and they are doing
that right now.”
You are right, they have the right to choose for themselves.

“This worries conventional farmers and they have
reacted by trying to attack the organic industry. ”
This does NOT worry us. Organic farmers could NEVER feed the world. You are too full of your own importance. You are no better or no worse than I.

dishonest and unethical”.

That’s what I have been saying. Organic movement has got to try the truth for once. Thanks for pointing that out to all.

Robert Frei
August 28, 2007


Did you know that organic farming, all it is, is how farmers grew crops over a century ago?

So basically, ever since the beginning of creation, this is the goal of the organic farmer: to grow the food the way God intended. Would God know how to raise and grow his own creation? :)

Food for thought.


August 28, 2007


I read your article in the Seattle Times and I was stunned by your lack of understanding of the organic food movement. You are probably correct that at this time, organic food is not a whole lot more nutritious than conventionally-grown food. However, the point you totally miss is that there is more to organic farming than food. It’s about making a lighter foot print while living on the earth. Indeed, we live in an era when we can have fresh food from all over the world, year-round, but we still have an obesity problem that is an epidemic in its scope. The bottom line is that we all need to pay more attention, a lot more attention to what we put in our mouths. It’s frightening to consider the health calamity that awaits the grossly overweight “baby boom” generation when we hit our 60’s and 70’s. Will the US life expentancy go down? What we are doing and how we are living is not sustainable, especially given the incredible amounts of grain, oil, and water it takes just to produce one pound of conventially raised beef in the US. We all need to think about this and do what we can to work toward sustainablility, instead of pretending that the resources will never run out and we’ll just bomb those that have the scarce amounts into oblivion in order to maintain our consumptive lifestyles. Hopefully you’re not one of those nut jobs that believes global warming is really a hoax.

Seattle, Wa.

August 28, 2007

Robert, a century ago women regularly died in childbirth. Babies at the turn of the century died in droves from unpasteurized milk. And most people didn’t live to see their 50th birthday, partly because life was difficult and nutrition wasn’t nearly what it is now – fruits and vegetables and meat were less plentiful and more expensive in real dollars than they are today. Why? Because of farming the “old fashioned” way. Is that really . . . morally superior? Are you suggesting it was God’s preference they stay that way? Or is man’s amazing mind (thank you, God!) which developed modern agricultral farming methods which have made food so cheap and plentiful and made those things a thing of the past, perhaps God’s gift to us? It doesn’t mean we don’t have to use that gift wisely. We do. But to suggest subsistance living and knowing at least some of your children won’t live to adulthood is more “Godly” is just so wrong.

John, I totally agree with you that we have an obesity epidemic on our hands, and people need to be SO much more aware of what they eat and drink.

But the idea that conventional farms are not sustainable is just factually so wrong. They are sustainable precisely because of modern farming methods. It used to be 90% of American workers were farmers. Now it’s way less than 10%. We use a fraction of the land once needed to produce countless times the food! And that’s not just here – China produces too much food! Subsaharan African production is up 25% over a few decades ago.

Why? Because man-made chemicals, pesticides, and modern farming methods (as opposed to “natural” chemicals and pesticides which are no less or more harmful, just less effective.) John, have you ever flown over the U.S., from Seattle to D.C.? Try it on a clear day. There is NOTHING down there.

In fact, do you know according to a fascinating study based on statistics provided by the Clinton Interior department, guess the percantage of land in America on which there is a human footprint. Seriously. All roads, homes, parking lots, buildings of any kind, ANY human footprint. Ready?

5 percent. Seriously. 5 percent.

We’ve got room, my friend, and plenty of it.

Thanks for writing.

John Hushagen
August 28, 2007


I have crossed the US contintent many times and there is indeed a lot of barren land–land that perhaps someday will grow crops that we turn into fuel without using our best ag land for corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel. However, much of that 95% will not sustain much life and can’t be counted on. The productive amount is actually very little and we need to take better care of that. We make these critical decisions not so much for ourselves as for our grand and great grand children. It may be that chemistry will not lead us out of the jam that it has gotten us into. Clearly we cannot feed the whole world with organic agriculture, but like biodiesel fuel, it’s AN answer, among many answers.

August 28, 2007

The comment about coffee was to point out that there are chemicals in everything. Synthetic ones can be safe and natural ones can be dangerous. The organic movement wants everyone to assume that natural chemicals are safer simply because they are natural. Talk about ‘balderdash’. When organic pesticides are tested in the same manner as synthetic ones, they are found to be just as harmful in large doses. The problem is that organic pesticides don’t have to be tested as rigorously to be allowed on the market for use. Recently some organic pesticides have been tested further because of health concerns. Pyrethrum and rotenone, both natural insecticides, have been linked to Leukemia and Parkinson’s. I wonder why this hasn’t been publicized at all, except for some farming magazines that I read. Do you think that maybe the organic lobby is as big or bigger than the evil ‘agribusiness’ lobby that everyone complains about?

Robert Frei
August 28, 2007

My point about the way God intended is, you have to go all the way back to the beginning. Adam and Eve even. Unpasterized milk from goats was a staple. I didnt catch anything in the bible about Noah or Abraham getting poisoned from unpasterized milk. :)

There is too much misinformation about doing things the natural way. check out for a little bit of info on organics as a whole. Or for some specific info on more than organics. Why do I trust this source? Because it really does work; Im proof of it.

If you read it, the word of God will tell you how to eat. Many dietary programs that are based on the bibles teachings are very successful. I wonder why? :)

August 28, 2007

If you don’t mind just one more Bible reference, in an article on environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki’s lecture upon receiving the Roger Tory Peterson Award from Harvard in 2006, it said: “(Suzuki) invoked the biblical stories of Joseph, protecting Egypt from famine by storing excess grain during seven bountiful years, and of Noah building his ark to protect a remnant, at least, of life on Earth from the flood.”

I.e., God helps those who help themselves. (Yes, I remember that Joseph said to his brothers later that God forced him into Egypt to save his brothers’ lives, but the point was that ignoring nature is hardly about following the Bible’s teachings.)

You can read the rest here, if you like:

Al Z
August 29, 2007

To Robert Frei,
please see my comment which is #32 with regards to you speaking for God.

Robert Frei
August 29, 2007

Actually, Im not interpreting anything. I speak of the Word of God plainly, as it is. I read from the 1526 William Tyndale translation of the Word. No interpretation is needed, it is plainly understood.

God told Israel what foods were ok to eat, and what wasn’t. Modern science has backed up the reasoning why God told these people, why they should not eat specific foods, such as pork, and non scaled and finned fish.

With all the drugs(synthetic) that are prescribed, yet scientists overlook the obvious benefits of using herbs, that heal over time. They just capitalize on the ‘now now now’ mentality of everyone. If it doesn’t work in 15 min, people think it’s a complete failure. The Lord taught patience, and this is sorely lacking in society.

I take absolutely no drugs(prescription, non prescription) and only use a few type herbs in different forms(no, not pot), that have been known to cure certain diseases.

Unlike the FDA that made a law stating it’s illegal to say anything other than a drug can cure or prevent a disease. It’s ludicrous, because people have been sued over claims of saying one herb or another can cure a specific disease, and tests have shown that it does, and yet, since the Drug companies are in bed with the FDA, what can you do? Follow the money.

Besides that side rant of truth, Gods word is plain as day. No interpretation is needed and isn’t warranted.

Al Z
August 29, 2007

I give up now that I know from whence you come. There is no reasoning with a fundamentalist or literalist, no mater if they are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist or any other philosophy. The Word of God was not written by Him. It was written by men. And please do not give me the inspired by and with the guiding hand of God response. I have studied the history of the bible extensively. And although I am a believer, I can assure you it initially was passed on by word of mouth long before it was put into writing and the original written documents have been translated into many languages, the Good Book does not contain everything. The bible again contains that which was selected by men. Being mankind as they were and we are, they and we are fallible, whether it be intentional or unintentional.

Judy Neldam
August 29, 2007


The agribusiness lobby in this country is enormous — who do you think is responsible for trying to loosen organic standards? Who do you think is responsible for getting products like high fructose corn syrup classified as “natural”? Who really believes that seeds should be patented or made sterile? Who has fought tooth and nail to prevent truth in labeling so that consumers know what’s in their food? When big money is involved ethics and community responsibility flies out the window. The world would be a better place if local farmers using organic methods fed their local communities. I grew up with seasonal foods – and I don’t ever remember feeling deprived. Who needs strawberries in January or tasteless tomato tennis balls that need to be sprayed to turn red? I grew up canning and freezing so that we could have fruits and veggies in the winter. Massive use of pesticides and petroleum (for transport)is not good for the world environment and it is not good for local economies.

Betty Myers
August 30, 2007

tasteless tomato tennis balls that
need to be sprayed to turn red?”
Exactly WHAT do they spray them with? Ethanol? Wait, we want the farmer to grow corn so we can make ethanol? It’s safer, right? Or you could take your greenish tomatoes and put then a bag with a green apple and they will turn red. Ethanol is a NATURAL thing.

Betty Myers
August 30, 2007

sorry etheline. Too much going on here.

Peter B.
August 31, 2007

Your columns on organics are just simply too vague and full of holes. The first commenter summed them up pretty well.

Big farma and even organic suppliers have totally watered down the standards of organic farming. You failed to address this issue. For me and most of the people I know, it’s all about keeping chemicals out of one’s body.

You could’ve just kept your column short and said “just because it’s “organic” doesn’t mean it is. WF and WO helped lower the standards of labeling. Done.

Schmearing the small, local farms shows who butters your bread. I know exactly where my food grows. It’s less than 2 miles from where I live, and some of it is within a 30′ radius of my suburban house.

One other thing then I gotta feed my kid some home grown organic meat. You reap what you sow. Well, not you personally because you’re in denial. A simple biological fact about the food chain you’re on: There are more prey than predators. Prey can multiply faster with less energy and resources because they’re smaller. Predators re-populate much slower and in fewer numbers. So when you apply pesticide to any crop you guarantee that the pest you want to eliminate will in fact not be eliminated and you ensure that much more of them will exist in the future. And further, they will develop resistance to your pesticide of choice.

This man-made created cycle is exploited by the chemical companies. They know this. That’s why they create new chemicals every year that are designed to solve the problem they helped create. Pesticide crops need more and more pesticides, each and every season without fail, or else the crop will not do well.

These pesticides build up in the soil and deplete them, which brings the big farma manage to a decision point: how to improve the soil? Ah, how about more chemicals? You betcha.

Usually within 7 years a farm has become artificial and unsustainable mess with nutrient-deficient crops. And that’s where your thoughtless column veers into blithe carelessness. You’re comparing marginally pesticide crops that someone gets away with calling organic just because they can with a heavily pesticide crop that can’t go much lower in terms of nutrients.

And you call this best for your family. And label organics a myth. And ignore the practical realities of big farma in order to collect a paycheck and drive down the stock price of WF. It’s irresponsible of you. I don’t mean that in a judgemental, harsh way, Just a pure common sense fact; you’re the kind of person my dad warned me about: snake oil marketer.

When I showed your article to my local farmer, he just smiled, sighed, and said “People eat the food they deserve.”

Judy Neldam
September 1, 2007


What you’ve written is wonderful and informative. I particularly liked, “People eat the food they deserve.” It is the best comment of any on this blog. That local farmer is a very wise man (or woman).

Robert Frei
September 1, 2007

I agree with Peter.

Folks can bury their heads in the sand if they want to. I choose to do my research. 😉


Judy Neldam
September 4, 2007

I am glad that so many people want to talk about the subject about local and organic food. Even though I don’t agree with one word Betsy said, I appreciate the opportunity to express my point of view on her blog. Free speech is a wonderful thing!

j. perris
September 9, 2007

The following is a letter I sent to Betsy, which she did not even have the decency to reply to. Clearly, she is only interested in one-way communication.

Dear Mrs Hart,

My apologies for contacting you so late. I am responding to a column of
yours from about two weeks ago, and I’m sure you’ve moved onto other
things. But I did want to share some thoughts.

After reading your article on your opinion of organic foods, I did visit
your website to understand your perspective on this subject. I was
quite surprised to learn that you and I have some things in common! I,
too, am a devoted mom (of three!) and a Christian. As a result, I was
even more perplexed by your article.

My husband and I are working very hard with our Ministry to get
Creationism included into the curriculum of our local school district.
We do not doubt that all of the earth’s bounties and intricacies were
created by God. But then doesn’t it stand to reason that the next step,
as Christians, is that we have a duty to care for that Creation? To be
stewards of His generosity?

If you don’t agree with the logic there, then it is abundantly explained
in scripture.

“Hurt not the earth, neither the seas nor the trees…” [Rev 7:3]

In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There
is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond
number—living things both large and small. . . When you send your
Spirit, they are created, and you renew the earth. [Psalm 104: 25, 30]

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it
and take care of it. [Genesis 2:15]

The time has come for … destroying those who destroy the earth.
[Revelation 11:18]

Yet, if scripture still doesn’t compel you, then basic facts should. My
husband is a university researcher and I can tell you there is an
abundance of quality, peer-reviewed studies on the advantages of organic
foods to both the individual’s health and to the environment. The
chemical and agri-business industries are quite strong and influential
in the U.S. and do an excellent job of clouding the subject.

Lastly, you must recall, Mrs. Hart, that this so-called debate between
“organic” and “conventional” farming is a modern phenomenon. For
thousands of years, farmers already practiced what today would be
considered “organic.” They rotated crops to protect and nourish soil;
they grew a variety of crops which severely cuts down on pests; animals
roamed in the pastures, and their waste nourished the soil and crops.
It’s really quite simple. It is only in the 20th century that we have
introduced mass scale mono-species fields, chemical pesticides,
synthetic chemical fertilizers and genetically modified foods.

I read some of the comments on your blog and it seems many of your
followers also disagree with you. Some raised the suspicion that you
are somehow tied to the chemical industry which, I admit, I considered
after reading your tome on DDT. Another post suggested you are merely
intentionally writing on a controversial matter to generate a “buzz” and
thus enhance your image as an attention-grabber to your editors and
those publications which carry your syndicated column.

Whatever the reason, while I understand your opinions are your own, I do
not appreciate you speaking as a Christian in such a wonton and reckless
way about God’s creations. While none of us can speak for the Lord, do
you truly believe that Jesus would have wanted an ostrich gene inserted
into corn DNA, or to have His creations driven into extinction, and to
have the earth spoiled for generations?

I do hope you will find the time to reply to my letter.

Thank you.

Janine Perris
Scottsdale, Arizona

Robert Frei
September 10, 2007

Janine, while I dont agree with your understanding of Rev 7:3(This is the future and the earth will be destroyed by God, which is what the prev. and after verses suggest),,

I agree that people dont understand that ‘organic’, is the way people have been raising our food supply, since the beginning of time in the garden of eden.
Yet, the scare mongers that profit from all the chemicals and genetics that are put into the food supply, have grown to an astronomical scale. They have the money to back their claims because, unfortunately, truth can be concealed with enough money.
Even the new scare about almonds, now no one will be able to get an organic almond, because every bit of them will be irradiated. I bet this is why my local publix supermarket has taken organic almond butter off the shelves, which is sad.
It wont end until everything organic, becomes chemical and hormone laced.
Folks, forget the hype and scare tactics, do the research, wake up and realize the conventional food supply is poison, and now they are trying to poison the organic supply too. is a start. Get educated on what your eating for heavens sake.

A 4-year study was just published in the UK this week about organics. They are better. Here’s a quote from the Times ONline. “THE biggest study into organic food has found that it is more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help to lengthen people’s lives.
The evidence from the £12m four-year project will end years of debate and is likely to overturn government advice that eating organic food is no more than a lifestyle choice.”
Have a look!

Julie Starkel, MS Nutrition
January 17, 2008

Hello again Betsy,
I’m back with more evidence that organic food is better for all than non-organic.
First, being a Christian, the Bible speaks of eating natural whole foods. Therefore, I am surprised that you espouse eating chemical laden produce.
In addition, if you like the science, yet another study came out recently carried out by Professor Carlo Leifert, at the Tesco Centre for Organic Agriculture at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.
According to the four-year study, the organic foods contained up to more than 40 percent more antioxidants than non-organic. Leifert said the difference is equivalent to eating an additional serving of fruits and vegetables each day, and could reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The study also found high levels of minerals such as iron and zinc in organic produce.
With milk, the advantage increases, with organic milk providing up to 60 percent more antioxidants, as well as more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m not sure how anyone can put her/his head in the sand any longer on this issue. I encourage you to study this issue more broadly before you make such brash and unsubstantiated statements on a topic that is not your expertise.
Thank you.

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Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, Registered Dietitian
March 6, 2009

Hello Betsy–
More evidence that organic food is healthier than non-organic.

Scientists Agree That Organic Farming Delivers Healthier, Richer Soil and Nutritionally Enhanced Food
BOULDER, Colo. – February 25, 2009 – Six encouraging conclusions on the impacts of organic farming on soil quality and the nutritional content of food were reached by a panel of scientists participating in a February 13, 2009, symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The symposium was entitled “Living Soil, Food Quality, and the Future of Food” and was held as part of the largest scientific meeting of the year that spans all disciplines. The AAAS meeting was held this year in Chicago, IL.

The panel of scientists included Dr. Preston Andrews, Washington State University, Dr. Jerry Glover, The Land Institute, and Dr. Alyson Mitchell, University of California-Davis.

January 9, 2014

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