Is There A Benefit To Eating Organic?

Perhaps this has already been discussed, but I read today two articles that made a pretty decent case that eating "organic" has no benefits over eating "conventional":


 


http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrymiller/2012/11/07/organic-agricultures-bitter-taste-or-is-organic-agriculture-affluent-narcissism/


 


http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2012/09/24/pesticides-food-fears/


 


The second article was particularly solid, I thought.  Anyway, I'm curious what others think and whether Dave Asprey has addressed this issue and the underlying science.  I know that he's more focused on grass-fed than on organic and also on mycotoxins (which, in the second chart in the second article, are listed as the greatest danger in terms of long-term health risks), but I've heard him speak positively about organic as well.  Does anyone have any illuminating thoughts?


 


 


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  • Organic is a minimum standard but far from sufficient given how loosely the organic label is legislated.  The best way to minimize the risk of toxins in our food is to buy it as close to the source as possible.  Go to the farm and get to know the farmer and his practices.  


     


    The premise of the SA article was that organic can be just as tainted as conventional - in this case, organic is just no good.


  • Regarding Dave & organics  I found this:


     


    Produce

    What needs to be organic and what doesn’t? Heavily sprayed produce: apples, cantaloupe (Mexican), carrots, celery, cherries, cucumbers, grapes (imported), green and red bell peppers, green beans, kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, spinach, and strawberries. It’s a good idea to spend the extra money on organic for these.


     


    But it’s pretty safe to save money and go conventional on asparagus, avocado, bananas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, grapes (from the U.S.), kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, plums, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelon. Avocados are pretty much the safest conventionally-produced food on the market today. Some of the produce on this list is not too Bulletproof, like the fruits (sugar) or the nightshades (lectins), but everything’s listed here for reference. Be certain, however, that any non-organic produce you buy is not GMO.


     


     


    That Forbes article, where do you even start?  Filled with agri-business propaganda, IMO.  If you notice, Henry I. Miller also authored;  "Genetically Engineered" In California: A Food Label We Don't Need." 


     


    But the low yields of organic agriculture – typically 20-50 percent lower than conventional agriculture – impose various stresses on farmland and especially on water consumption.


     


    The approach of conventional agriculture is to plant huge monocultures aimed at  getting the highest possible yields and profits; they plant the same thing every year depleting the fertility of the soil.  So in addition to their own water consumption, they're adding chemical fertilizers, which are processed from natural gas, diesel and/or oil that end up polluting that precious water they claim organic farmers are wasting. 


     


    Finally, many who are seduced by the romance of organic farming ignore the human toll it exacts.  Missouri farmer Blake Hurst offers this reminder:  â€œIn the many places around the world where organic farming is the norm, a large proportion of the population is involved in farming. Not because they choose to do so, but because they must. Weeds continue to grow, even in polycultures with holistic farming methods, and without pesticides, hand weeding is the only way to protect a crop.” He might have added that in many places, the back-breaking drudgery of hand-weeding falls largely to women and children.


     


    Suddenly they're concerned about the "back-breaking drudgery of hand-weeding"?   What about the effects of nutrient deficient foods, water contamination & resistant pests?  Conventional farming also attract weeds and pests.  So they poison the microbes of the soil along with the people that work their fields with glyphosate (roundup).  And then again use even more pesticides derived from fossil fuels to kill pests.


     


     


    The concept of organics as we know it today was formed by J.I. Rodale and is far from perfect.  Rodales doctrine is rather simplistic, synthetic is bad, natural is good. Of course, it's never that cut and dry.  No matter how much compost and manure  you might add to a deficient soil, you're never going end up with nutrient dense plants unless you remineralize the soil.  Rodales test farm was in PA, very different soil composition than say the west coast.  As Rodale had the market on the organic publishing industry, he refused to publish the works of his contemporaries, William Albrecht &  Cary Reams, which are only now coming to light. 


     


    Agribusiness has seen the money to be made in organics and now much of organics looks like conventional farming. They're now writing the USDA  standards for organic farming and food manufacturing. Best solution, get to know your farmer, and/or grow your own. 

  • What I'm most concerned about is the extent to which organic food minimizes exposure to harmful pesticides.  The second article -- the one from Scientific American that I liked more -- makes a pretty strong case that organic food is no safer in this respect than conventional food, both because it is often laced with pesticides which aren't necessarily any safer and because, to the extent that conventional food DOES have more pesticides, those pesticides are at a level unlikely to cause any actual harm.  Moreover, washing produce gets rid of most of the residue.  Now, what I'm curious about is whether these claims from the article that I just articulated are true.  I see what Dave Asprey wrote (thanks for including the link), but because he's opaque about his sources here, I don't know what the basis is to believe that the fruits/vegetables he lists that one should get organic are actually significantly more dangerous in conventional form.  I'm very open to his being absolutely right ... but I guess I'd ideally like to hear how he'd respond to some of the claims made in these articles.  (I'm less interested in the points in the first article about GMO food because I think I understand pretty well that there are animal studies suggesting GMO food might be pretty dangerous and no human studies yet proving it's safe (or dangerous, for that matter), which, to me, strongly suggests that we should avoid GMO food until there's good evidence showing it's actually fit for human consumption.  Anyway, if anyone knows more about the whole organic-vs.-non-GMO-conventional issue from the standpoint of pesticides (or other substances that might be dangerous to consume), I'd love to hear it.


  • J.T.J.T.
    edited July 2013

    In the case of genetically modified corn, soy and canola, they are bred to grow pesticides inside the crops themselves. So there is no washing the pesticides off.


     


    Second, in regards to this;


     


     



    those pesticides are at a level unlikely to cause any actual harm



     


     


     


     


    Says who? There is now evidence that using a cell phone every day for 10 years can cause tumors to form, but it takes 10 whole years to develop! So how do we know that a slow and steady intake of pesticides every day is "safe". I just don't buy it..... Where is the evidence that it's safe?


     


    The problem with chemicals in today's world, is that they are innocent until proven guilty. And it's almost impossible to prove a correlation/causation between anything over a period of 10 years because so much can happen in 10 years. I don't remember everything I have been exposed to in the past 10 years, do you?


  • katolotuskatolotus ✭✭✭

    Think the term 'Organic' is used too loosely on food in stores. If you know how it's grown and cared for, then it's better than if you don't.


     


    Personally I think if you don't truly know, then it's a gamble in the store. Paying a little more for organic means your odds are better for the extra money you're spending. Like betting on a favourite, they don't alway win ;-)


    Katolotus

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    SUCCESS: A lot of little things done well

  • Just buy local as much as possible. Freshness in my opinion is the most important. Especially in crops that don't hold as much pesticides.


  • I can't eat non-organic sweet potatoes and yams after eating them organic. The quality is just so much different between the two IMO. I find asparagus to be absolutely disgusting but I find ways to make it work for me. That and the fact that its not necessary to buy organic make it a common vegetable in my house. I tend to go organic with broccoli, carrots and Cauliflower but not with eggplant. As far as my beef goes, I usually just buy hamburgers in bulk from the dollar menu at McDonalds and throw the buns out until I have a bunch of them in the fridge. Not.


  • edited July 2013

    [Someone, please delete this; accidentally posted the same thing twice.  See the corrected post immediately below.] 

  • edited July 2013

    ....


     


    Says who? There is now evidence that using a cell phone every day for 10 years can cause tumors to form, but it takes 10 whole years to develop! So how do we know that a slow and steady intake of pesticides every day is "safe". I just don't buy it..... Where is the evidence that it's safe?


     


    .....



    I guess I'd say, in response, where's the evidence that it's dangerous or that the pesticides used in organic food are any safer?  (The second article I linked to above   suggests, citing studies, that the opposite may be the case in many instances.)  Don't get me wrong:  I buy organic all the time, but I also don't have blind faith that organic is better.  I'd simply like some evidence that buying organic has a significant,benefit, at least for the foods Dave Asprey noted in his post.  I'm not asking for absolute proof, which I recognize is difficult to come by, but if Dave Asprey has sources for his wisdom on this subject, which I'm sure he does, I'd be curious to see them. 


  • StevoStevo Upgrade in Progress

    There are two lists called The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen which refer to the safest and least safest foods if you choose to eat standard vegetables instead of organic.


  • John BrissonJohn Brisson The Legend Formerly Known as Ron Swanson ✭✭✭

    I will play Devil's advocate for a minute. Just because something is labeled organic, doesn't mean it is organic. Unless you know the farm, how could you truly know? There is organic food that comes from China!


     


    So What to do?


     


    If you buy local and you know where it is coming from it might not be organic. I buy local grass fed beef that isnt organic but I trust it because I know the farmer.


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  • My wife read an entire book on the subject of GMOs and the skinny that I got is that there are things with selective breeding that can be done to fruits and veggies that are just as bad as GMO crap.  All things considered I got my list of produce that needs to be organic and that which is not so messed with so far(at least for now) and I buy produce only after looking at the list.  This has heavily influenced what I eat, thank goodness broccoli is still on the cleanish side if not bought organic.  But this is mostly out of necessity, If I had all the money in the world I'd eat only organic.


  • In the articles in the OP, both seem to focus on the pesticides issue, and not at all on flavour or nutritional content.  


    Also, I started looking at the author's bios.  The second one was written by a guy who has made his career promoting GMO frankenfoods, why would anyone be surprised he downgrades anyone who questions gmo's?


    "I was the medical reviewer for the first genetically engineered drugs and thus instrumental in the rapid licensing of human insulin and human growth hormone. Thereafter, I was a special assistant to the FDA commissioner and the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology."


     




  • My wife read an entire book on the subject of GMOs and the skinny that I got is that there are things with selective breeding that can be done to fruits and veggies that are just as bad as GMO crap.  All things considered I got my list of produce that needs to be organic and that which is not so messed with so far(at least for now) and I buy produce only after looking at the list.  This has heavily influenced what I eat, thank goodness broccoli is still on the cleanish side if not bought organic.  But this is mostly out of necessity, If I had all the money in the world I'd eat only organic.




    are you referring to the lists in this thread or do you have other lists that you look at?

  • It was Pandora's Fruit Basket and it was read years ago.


  • important issues are :


     


    - soil nutrient profile, has the soil been tested and rock mineralised for any deficiencies? what is the biota in the soil? how is the soil maintained?


    - contributing ecology, is it a monoculture or is it grown in a functional eco-system (including pollinators, beneficial predators), does the system require large external energy inputs, how does the land-use fit with the local society?


    - are foods selected to fill out, and balance, dietary nutritional profiles? eating the healthiest organic cabbage in the world, all day long, will create a nutritional imbalance.


     


    organic/ non-organic are meaningless words, generally co-opted for commercial interests. all food is "organic" (containing carbon)


    Reigning Former Inner Balance "Mad Monk" Champion... :-P 

  • StevoStevo Upgrade in Progress

    "Organic" is the default in nature. Its funny how vegetables sprayed with chemicals to cheat nature which are clearly a sub-standard version, have become the mainstream to the point that nature's default has become a luxury item.


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