Organic fans push back against Stanford study

09/06/2012 06:40:00 AM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstThere is pushback to the news coverage of the Stanford University study on the differences, or lack thereof, between organic and conventional food. The Packer's coverage alone has 21 comments, many from organic supporters.

Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute penned a column about the topic here.

He writes:

Although there is conflicting science on whether or not organic food is truly nutritionally superior, there is no doubt that in terms of many parameters, organic food is demonstrably safer.

I will stick with the diet that concentrates on fresh, local, more flavorful food that’s produced without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and genetically modified organisms. And I for one think I’m getting a good value for my own health, while at the same time supporting good environmental stewardship and economic justice for family farmers.

Louisa Kasdon also chimes in:

Whatever their motivation, supporting organic agriculture helps people feel empowered by their food choices. That’s the real reason organic food matters. It is part of the most powerful social movement of our day: Food Consciousness. And though I have great respect for the fastidious research by the Stanford team, in no way is the new report a devastating blow to organic food.

Ultimately people don’t reach for the misshapen organic strawberry because it has more vitamin C. They do so in the hope that supporting organic agriculture will help raise the conversation and make the food system healthier for all of us in the long run.

 

The question "Is organic food better for you?" is also being discussed at the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group.

 

There is no doubt the committed organic consumer will not be swayed by the Stanford University research. Faith cannot be reduced to facts.

In the minds of some organic advocates, the study  may be counted as one more challenge "the establishment" is erecting to slow down the organic trends.

But that organic consumer who reaches for the "misshapen" organic strawberry for altruistic reasons may have different motivations than the consumer who likes the idea of organic produce but wants a beautiful berry and a reasonable price to boot.

The organic market needs all of its fans - fervent and casual - to continue its impressive growth.



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Clint Albano    
Muscat, Oman  |  September, 06, 2012 at 04:23 PM

Belief in the nutritional superiority of "organically" grown fruits and vegetables is simply more evidence, if we ever needed more, of the continued appeal to human beings of nice sounding irrational, unscientific nonsense. What kind of agriculture and food production world wide would we have if, for example, growers worldwide could not apply just one application of one of those those evil man made herbicides to hundreds of millions of acres of grain? And what kind of an environmental impact would that have? Any chance it would be positive? More land farmed, mostly marginal, to meet world demand? How many trees would be felled, how much range land would be disked up? Any chance of a convincing, measureable, palpable increased public health benefit from grains minus a possible couple of parts per billion of residue from this or that herbicide? And could any such benefit, were it found, outweigh the very much larger negative health and ECONOMIC impact of the certain decline of grain production worldwide minus the weed control? Let movie and TV stars, celebrities, artistocrats, cranks, charlatans and their dupes in the natural food promotion business have their tomatoes planted only under the light of the moon with Druid incantations, if they want. But why in the world are the USDA and reputable scientific institutions dignifying this BELIEF - and that is all it is - with the attention and implicit respect that it does not deserve?

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