Yes, organic food is a growing trend.
I say trend because lately en vogue ensembles seem to include a Coach bag and Manolo Blahniks paired with an organic, almond “milk” latte.
Choosing organic and/or avoiding animal protein is almost like a status symbol. The media glamorizes those who can afford to make so-called healthy, environmental choices.
But are they really better choices?
Now, I am not against organic food.
I think it works better with some crops and systems than others, and it has pros and cons just like all methods of food production and farming. I’m also totally in favor of sound, environmentally-friendly practices. My family and I work AND live on our land so of course we want to keep it healthy.
I know I’ve said that all before, but I recently came across a few pieces of writing that compelled me, once again, to tackle food labeling issues on my blog.
The first was a blog post by Dairy Carrie
on the new marketing campaign of Panera Bread.
Perhaps you’ve seen this campaign? If not, here’s some examples from Panera Bread.
Carrie outlines the issues with this campaign quite well, so I hope you take time to read her post.
Panera clearly labels their chicken natural and antibiotic-free (though not necessarily organic) and implies any farmer who uses antibiotics is lazy, uncaring, and looking for the easy way.
Just briefly, on my own behalf…
Really, Panera? You’re calling us farmers lazy?
Call me what you will, but I find it absurd that anyone can think it’s okay for humans to get treated with antibiotics, but animals shouldn’t be afforded that same care.
I know the right antibiotic can be life-saving for a sick calf, and I’m not okay with giving up that treatment option.
As for the other end of lazy, I challenge and welcome anyone to come spend a day working alongside us and then say how EZ livestock farming is.
It’s rewarding work, but easy wouldn’t be the first word that comes to my mind to describe it. We don’t enjoy giving antibiotics, but they do not diminish the quality of our milk or meat as long as we use them responsibly and abide by all withdrawal times.
Panera, I think you struck out on this one, big time.
The second article I wanted to share is from Forbes (business nerd, I know) Is Organic Agriculture Affluent Narcissism?
Now, don’t get defensive if you buy organic. We are all entitled to our food choices, and I know it’s a personal and complex issue.
First, the main things I want to say are these:
– You shouldn’t feel bad about buying what fits in your budget.
– You shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t choose organic food for your kids.
-There is no reason to scrutinize and stress over every decision you make in the grocery store.
Now, to the essence of the article, because I know in the midst of your busy day you won’t all have time to read it. First, no matter how you look at it or who does the research, there is no evidence that organic products contain more nutrients or are at less risk for contamination than their traditionally produced counterparts.
Next, pesticides are a big concern and a reason many people buy organic fruits and veggies. But, have you thought about what your organic produce is treated with?
Certainly you don’t want worm holes or bugs in your apples, do you?
No one does, and so there are multiple organic-approved pesticides. Generally these are naturally occurring.
Rotenone is one of these, naturally derived from several plants including jicama. It is also toxic to fish and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease in peer reviewed research.
Heavy doses of copper and other natural elements can also be used as a pesticide, which stick around in soil with adverse effects for a loooong time.
Nicotine Sulfate, derived from tobacco, is another natural pesticide mentioned frequently, but I found multiple differing sources on whether it is approved for organic use. (I haven’t had time to sort through the full USDA list, so if someone knows please comment.)
While researching this pesticide question even further I came upon this post from NPR.org that nicely discusses the issue. Organic Pesticides: Not an Oxymoron
Along with all this pesticide talk, there is good news! The Forbes article also says a study from UC – Berkley found that 99.9% (by weight) of pesticides in the human diet come from chemicals naturally produced by plants to defend themselves. This means that a very tiny portion come from added pesticide, whether organic or non-organic.
Please know that the last thing I want to do in this post is make you worry more about your food. Ultimately we need ways to control insects, disease, and weeds in food production, and farmers of all kinds are just going about it the best way they can.
Wash your produce, and then enjoy it.
I still believe that fresh foods, like fruits, veggies and whole grains, along with dairy, meats, and the occasional sweets make up a great diet. We are lucky to have a safe and abundant food supply here, for which I give thanks.
If you’ve got questions (or angry words) for me, just leave a comment below. I may not have the answer, but I will do my best to find out.
Happy eating, readers.