EDIT: Since publishing this article I have been informed, repeatedly, about its factual errors. The article was written based on the Stanford study which I assumed to be accurate. That was a mistake and I should have done more research on it before publishing. Thanks to a lot of kind, patient people I am now aware of the directions I need to look on this topic. I will be doing some more research and posting a new article on organic farming soon.
With around 75% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck it’s difficult to imagine how places like Whole Foods manage to stay in business, especially since what they’re selling is outrageously priced with no real benefits. Somehow a whole lot of people have been convinced to pay two or three times more for food just because it has the “organic” label. Never mind study after study shows that “organic” fruits and vegetables are no safer or more nutritious than “non-organic”.
The study, by researchers in the university’s Center for Health Policy and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was a meta-analysis in which results from the scientific literature were combined but no new, original laboratory work was conducted. Data from 237 studies were aggregated and analyzed to determine whether organic foods are safer or healthier than non-organic foods. They concluded that fruits and vegetables that met the criteria for “organic” were on average no more nutritious than their far cheaper conventional counterparts, nor were those foods less likely to be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella.
Ironically, the designation “organic” is itself a synthetic construct of bureaucrats that makes little sense. It prohibits the use of synthetic chemical pesticides – although there is a lengthy list of exceptions listed in the Organic Foods Production Act – but permits most “natural” ones (and also allows the application of pathogen-laden animal excreta as fertilizer).
Imagine, it was a bunch of clueless bureaucrats that caused all of this confusion. A change that just so happened to allow fruit and vegetable growers to change little to nothing about their farming techniques and still charge double what they were before for the same product. They must have some pretty good lobbyists.
What most people don’t know is that “organic” pesticides are just as toxic as non-organic pesticides. It’s a completely false sense of security that has people wasting millions of dollars a year on a nothing.
These permitted pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a September 2012 Scientific American article (“Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.”): “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones. No matter what anyone tells you, organic pesticides don’t just disappear. Rotenone is notorious for its lack of degradation, and copper sticks around for a long, long time. Studies have shown that copper sulfate, pyrethrins, and rotenone all can be detected on plants after harvest—for copper sulfate and rotenone, those levels exceeded safe limits. One study found such significant rotenone residues in olives and olive oil to warrant ‘serious doubts…about the safety and healthiness of oils extracted from [fruits] treated with rotenone.’” (There is a well-known association between rotenone exposure and Parkinson’s Disease.)
If you feel as though you have enough disposable income to shop at place like Whole Foods then wise up and go to a farmer’s market or “regular” grocery store and buy three times as much for the same price and donate the rest to a local food bank. Do something good with your money besides lining the pocket of Whole Foods.