Month: October 2012

THE ORGANIC ELEPHANT…


NOT SO RECENT NEWSFLASH:

In a bid to get myself back on the path to mental rehabilitation, I’ve been looking to food longingly for inspiration, and it led me here…. To the giant elephant in the room that is the (mostly) organic elephant.

Stanford University’s recent study revealed that organic produce is no more nutritional than it’s pesticide riddled counterpart. It looked at 240 studies from around the world on the health effects of eating organic produce with the comparative levels of chow we shove in our pie hole, which is “safely” covered with standard good ol’ fertiliser. Remind me in a bit to ask out loud if I’m missing something here.

I consider it mildly  irresponsible to suggest to impressionable Daily Mail readers that the organic green brigade head to their local quaffed middle class supermarket or farmers market with the aim of buying this overpriced produce because it’s more nutritious. The daily mail also write here that conventionally “farmed” food is better for the environment. Yes, let us condense an incredibly complex pile of stats into that article topper Daily Mail. Lets.

I for one never assumed that “better” meant more nutritious, and by better I mean having at least fewer chemicals swimming around my bits (although I have my doubts about large supermarket’s own organic brands…). Add to this, the idea of thinking organic is “better” for you boils down to an unsettling level of faith one has to have in food suppliers. I also (pointlessly) contest that results from studies of children on organic diets show they have still present levels of pesticides. Does this accurately reflect team ‘noughties’ organic’s attempt to just ingest FEWER pesticides? Unless of course these children are held in a padded cell and monitored for an adequate amount of months, I doubt they have 100% accurate pee results.

Now, I’m not exactly pulling apart my cupboards or dissecting my bathroom cabinet for a list of all ingredients that I’m throwing over myself on a daily basis (most of which are NOT organic) in a bid to come across as a pompous ass. It’s simply a worrying rallying assumption that people knew it all along and it’s a big government conspiracy to rip us off in light of President Obama’s Cancer Panel Report across the waters suggesting consumers should choose organic to reduce the risk of cancer. Translation: choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilisers, antibiotics, and growth hormones to help reduce the exposure to environmental chemicals, which are known to increase the risk of cancer. Simples. If only it was as basic as saying that organic food is entirely chemical free (which sadly, sometimes it’s not) or that it is something that should be a standard level of food that every human being should be able to consume. It should be a basic human right to eat foods that are not pulsing with toxic synthetic hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, preservatives, wax, and genetically modified crap. If pesticides are in my pee, it’s because somebody put them there in the first place, and left me without a reduced and impossible choice and means to do otherwise, other than at an often extortionate price.

Add all this to the recent revelation by scientists at Oxford University that while organic farming is generally good for wildlife, it does not have lower environmental impacts than conventional farming. Right. So, publish the study that show us exactly what farming systems are being developed to tackle this extra land usage for organic crops please. Perhaps now is an ideal time to educate people about where their food actually comes from, and the variation in organic standards within the UK, EU and the world at large? Why not introduce words such as ethical, local, animal welfare, and sustainable into the conversation and see how that goes.

What this recent study reinforces other than how complex, underhanded and web like the terrain of the world’s food industry is, is that the term “organic” is often used inconsistently, and mostly in a scape-goatish manner to rattle up the for and against-ers. In an ideal world, what these studies should be capable of achieving is to be a tool to help people see there is far more to food than simply buying organic. Organic, at the end of the day should just mean chemical free, and not “it costs a fucking fortune and it’s no more nutritious”.

Food “should be” beneficial for all of the encompassing elements of the species and resources involved, and not just for lining and emptying our often very shallow and highly taxed pockets, organic label or not. As to why the term organic has taken on a middle class life of it’s own is a no brainer, but perhaps the label needs to change to simply being “pesticide and chemical free” in order to reduce the “we’re being conned” element.

THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER? FEEL FREE…