7.30.2009

In Defense of Organics!


By now you should be used to the media telling you about a new research conclusion with new findings. Usually, the data only serves to confuse. Case in point, I've always loved the announcements one year that coffee is good for you. Then the next announcement a year later tells you that research has found the opposite is true. The same with red wine, chocolate, peanut butter, honey, beer, you name it - one study finds it good, then the next one its bad. You got to love all this research! Of course, to be fair, research is usually more complicated (or layered) than that - but don't let that stop the media from sharing it with us like it's the gospel! No wonder we're all confused!

But, yesterday, I'm reading that now a new report by the researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines (and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) has just concluded that Organic Food is no healthier or detrimental to the health of your average human than Non-Organic Food. What the heck does that mean? You read the article and see if you come out of it any more enlightened. I didn't. If you do read the article, I like that bit at the end that wraps up the whole thing by saying that there is no sufficient research into the long-term effects to the use of pesticides on human health. Now that will make for interesting reading when that comes out....don't you think?

It means the report has stated that the researchers have found 'no differences in most nutrients in organically or conventionally grown crops, including in Vitamin C, calcium, and iron. The same was true for studies looking at meat, dairy, and eggs.'

I'm sure the researchers were fair and the results well studied - it states in the BBC article that the group is independent and has no agenda. Nonetheless, it sort of reminds me of the unnecessary argument that I've had before with my mother-in-law, who at 76 years old has scoffed periodically at our use of the word 'organic' and our insistence on using home grown, or store bought, organic fruits and veggies. As I told her, the term is only funny because in her day it wasn't necessary really to differentiate. But now, in order to have the wholesome goodness that she took for granted, before the huge industrialized farming practices and food system took over in my generation, we have to clarify the difference. 

My problem is not with the fact that nutritional values might be the same, or not - but it is with the farming practices often used in large scale farming and rearing of animals. And, my other problem, which was not clearly addressed in the report, is the MOST IMPORTANT - what effects are such things as pesticides and growth hormones doing to our health, and the health of the environment. I don't really care who has the greener apple! Anyway, if you ask me, I've tried both in my life, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm sticking with the more wholesome approach - the veggies, fruit, meat, and dairy just taste better in my opinion - and I feel a hell of a lot less guilty - even if I do have to pay something more for it at the check-out stand. 

In fact, as I try to convince my mother-in-law, we're interested in the same thing as an end result - we just have to call it by a different name these days! Which brings to mind something else, have you heard of the new movie/documentary making the rounds called FOOD, INC. - it's a great eye opener into an industry that you may pay little attention to but plays a huge daily roll in your everyday life. The film is great, but even the website is a great source of information for those of you interested. Hey, you know what - I think I'll make the film (DVD) a nice Christmas gift to my mother-in-law this year.... uh-oh - she'll either love me for it, or kill me! 


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A great book along those same lines - "The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It" by Robyn O'Brien.

cheryl@cornbread.com said...

Also, the documentary "The Future of Food" is chilling about what is happening to food... and the farmers.

http://www.thefutureoffood.com/