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8 Foods You Must Eat Organic


Fat Guy
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Mitch, I would definitely encourage you to give Pomi another try. I've made several converts. It just takes some time to adapt to the reduced salt content and different behavior of the produce. I'll also note that I believe Muir Glen uses BPA-free packaging for its canned tomatoes.

I'm eager to read some independent research on BPA in tomato packaging and whether it matters, and similar information on potatoes and apples.

I will on the Pomi. But it's also good to know that Muir Glen cans are ok, as that's one of my favorite brands of canned tomato.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Peanut butter is something I have been considering for some time, and have not yet come to a conclusion. It is important to me because my wife, and the last kid in the house eat it on a daily basis. Together, they go thru more than a pound a week. My wife doesn't really care, but my opinion of most of the store brands is that she might as well be having ice cream for breakfast, but she couldn't spread that on toast.

From what I can find, purely organic Valencia peanut butter costs about $11/lb. High quality natural is locally about $5. The $5 is something I can manage. (For $6, we could have lean organic ground beef.) On the other hand, the mainline brands test for the smallest amounts of aflatoxins, and evidently have miniscule pesticide residues. The peanut butter she and the kid like best is above $6. It is ground at the store, but has no organic assurance. I'm inclined to buy organic raw, and roast and grind my own.

Organic beef, yes, about 50% of the beef we eat. The flavor is so much better, that the organic consideration does not even need to be added to the decision. The farm we buy from has expanded to provide some produce. The potatoes are not much more than the cost of good quality from the market, and the quality is there. Unfortunately, they don't seem to produce a lot. I clean out half the bin whenever I buy. So most of the potatoes I eat are "conventional."

Apples, as above, only need to be peeled.

I can get eggs (and chicken) that are not organic, but are not raised with antibiotics or growth hormones. The eggs I buy in part out of habit, because the farm has had a stall at the market for as long as I can remember. And they have duck eggs briefly in the spring, and I'm glad to support that.

I find most market strawberries to be so flavorless that I rarely bother. My strawberry intake is mostly from wild. My wife and I, along with the kids, have spent many hours happily hunting wild. That, unfortunately, is something I suppose few could do.

Popcorn is done is a brown bag.

Try to eat non-farmed fish, but am a sucker for farmed trout.

We don't use much milk anymore, but I would have been much more concerned when the kids were little. Each one drank about 48 oz. a day when they were little, and I wonder what problems this might have caused them, because I'm certain that hormones were being widely used for at least some of the period.

As far as feeding 6 billion goes, that deserves its own thread. But it appears that industrial or organic, meat will be a luxury item.

Got to toss one last thing in. Speaking of meat and luxury. As I mentioned above, organic beef can be had for less than organic peanuts. As I pointed out to my son the other day, even the "white foam" bread at the market can cost more per pound than the refrigerated chicken. And if buying high quality mass produced bread, or artisanal bread, a lot of beef and pork is cheaper per pound. I find this a strange inversion. Meat should be the outside of a sandwich, with a deli thin slice of bread in the center.

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"helping you with what you perceive to be allergies"

Are you kidding me? My lips swelled up and my throat closed. Is that fact or merely my perception? It doesn't happen with organic fruits.

Did you mention any of this in your original post? No, you did not.

My point remains the same; you don't know for a certainty that the non-organic fruits were the cause. Many times there are other things going on and we seize on what seems to be the culprit. As I said before, if it is working for you, than certainly continue to eat organic fruits. Your claims of their efficacy remain anecdotal and not confirmatory.

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"helping you with what you perceive to be allergies"

Are you kidding me? My lips swelled up and my throat closed. Is that fact or merely my perception? It doesn't happen with organic fruits.

Did you mention any of this in your original post? No, you did not.

My point remains the same; you don't know for a certainty that the non-organic fruits were the cause. Many times there are other things going on and we seize on what seems to be the culprit. As I said before, if it is working for you, than certainly continue to eat organic fruits. Your claims of their efficacy remain anecdotal and not confirmatory.

There is a saying, "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck."

Severe allergic reactions to foods (anaphylactic shock) are objective symptoms that can be recognized by informed lay people as well as physicians or other healthcare workers. These allergies can be from the fruits themselves or from pesticides or fungicides with which they have been treated or any component used to make or carry those pesticides.

There are certain pesticides that cause these same symptoms in persons who become sensitized to them and this is not just people who consume the fruits. Workers who are exposed to them repeatedly have suffered and some have died when adequate protection was not used.

Note this statement in the link: "A victim of hypersensitivity feels terribly alone, and helpless. Worse, they are easily dismissed as 'just' psychosomatic by those of us who are unaware that most of the emotional turmoil is a result of the illness and our reaction to it, not the cause. These are real symptoms, terribly real."

Not all the pesticides found on fruits brought to market were intended for those fruits. Overspray from drifting, airborne pesticides, sprayed from a plane onto cotton crops in San Joaquin valley, affected thousands of almond trees near Bakersfield, CA, a few years ago. Fortunately the fruit of these trees are only the carrier for the interior nut but if those trees had been apricot trees, a related species, those apricots would have been affected and that particular organophosphate pesticide would have been throughout the flesh of the fruit, not just on the surface.

Since that episode more stringent laws about spraying from planes - wind levels, etc., have been put in place but nothing is 100% sure.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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andiesenji, Thank you for your post. I really appreciate it. Very interesting reading, especially about the cropdusting drift.

It is so insulting to have allergies and have people be dismissive. My brother has ended up in an ER twice for his seafood allergy. He can't eat out anymore. If the food he eats is prepared anywhere near seafood it affects him. Another brother can't eat raw apples or carrots.

annabelle, Here is what I said.

"serious and scary allergic reactions to certain fruits and most berries"

I used the term allergic, not sensitive. What part of the word "scary" do you not understand? How about a little more empathy and a little less internet trolling?

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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andiesenji, Thank you for your post. I really appreciate it. Very interesting reading, especially about the cropdusting drift.

It is so insulting to have allergies and have people be dismissive. My brother has ended up in an ER twice for his seafood allergy. He can't eat out anymore. If the food he eats is prepared anywhere near seafood it affects him. Another brother can't eat raw apples or carrots.

annabelle, Here is what I said.

"serious and scary allergic reactions to certain fruits and most berries"

I used the term allergic, not sensitive. What part of the word "scary" do you not understand? How about a little more empathy and a little less internet trolling?

When I first wrote that response I included an incident that happened to me years ago when a person decided to prove to me that my allergy to alcohol was "all in my head."

At a party she served chili to which she had added some raw alcohol - no way to taste it.

A few minutes later I developed the early symptoms which got steadily worse and I used my Epipen which helped a bit but I still had difficulty breathing so someone called 911 and I was transported by ambulance to an ER, where I spent 6 very uncomfortable and expensive hours.

The person who did this admitted to it and after some threats of legal action, paid the portion of my medical expenses that weren't covered by my insurance. I did not sue for pain and suffering but I could have.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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andiesenji, Thank you for your post. I really appreciate it. Very interesting reading, especially about the cropdusting drift.

It is so insulting to have allergies and have people be dismissive. My brother has ended up in an ER twice for his seafood allergy. He can't eat out anymore. If the food he eats is prepared anywhere near seafood it affects him. Another brother can't eat raw apples or carrots.

annabelle, Here is what I said.

"serious and scary allergic reactions to certain fruits and most berries"

I used the term allergic, not sensitive. What part of the word "scary" do you not understand? How about a little more empathy and a little less internet trolling?

[/quote}

I work in a medical laboratory, so I hardly qualify as a "troll", thank you.

As andiesenji says, it could be the fruits, it could be the pesticides. I asked you a clarifying question, that's all.

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To get back on track...

I find myself drinking a gruner veltliner tonight, and noticed that the label says that it's made with organic grapes. I've seen a lot of wines that are organic or biodynamic, but it doesn't seem like most wines I drink make a big deal out of it. I certainly don't pay much attention to organic wines. I also have the sense that a lot of wines may be organic, or close to it, but don't have the certification. It seems to me that wine makers that want to produce good wine aren't using pesticides. But I actually don't know. This is just an assumption I've always made.

I don't really pay much attention to organic wine, but think it might not make a big difference unless you're drinking Yellow Tail or $2 Trader Joe's wine (who knows what they do to make a $2 wine). What's the thinking about organic wine?

nunc est bibendum...

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andiesenji,

That is terrible what happened to you, thanks for sharing it. I'm so glad you're ok. There are chef's who don't believe in allergies and will spike foods with the ingredient a customer has said they can't eat. I know that happened once with one of my brothers.

This is disturbing reading. A chef brags about poisoning his guests.

http://glutenfreeworks.com/blog/2011/03/30/chef-damian-cardone-brags-about-feeding-gluten-free-patrons-high-gluten-pasta/

Yes Alcuin,

Back to the subject. I wouldn't think much about drinking organic wine unless I had a reaction.

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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Regarding farmed fish, surely farming--kind of like paper companies planting their own little forests--fish is better for the environment than overfishing wild salmon, tuna, etc.

My concern--and understand that I'm not shitting on the concept of 'organic' food here, it's just a concern--is that oftimes, organic food is marketed, by both companies and the people who swear by it ('it tastes better', 'it's better for you', 'it's all natural') in a way that makes it sound very much like alternative medicines. The fact that already we've had the 'links' between autism, GM food and vaccines brought up drives that point home. As someone actually on the big scary spectrum, I'm always, always, always amused by the 'vaccines/bad food did it' line. I'd love to see some double-blind trials showing that people really, truly prefer the flavour of organic beef, eggs, wheat, etc. It doesn't shock me that people often say nice things about the flavour organic meat--altho' I wonder if it's less to do with the fact that this steak is organic than the probability that someone who is determined to jump through all the hoops to get an 'organic certified' sticker is probably also prepared to put a bit of extra effort into what he/she feeds the animals, how much 'free roaming' space he/she gives the animals, etc. I'd also want to see actual scientific evidence--not just some quack from a news website--that says organic oranges are better for me than nonorganic oranges (or apples or tomatoes or potatoes or chicken thighs or eggs or rice) before buying into the idea that organic equals healthier. I'm far too cynical to just play along with the idea that oh, man, chemicals are bad and big food companies are evil, therefore the small producer that charges thrice the going rate for Roma tomatoes is a saint.

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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andiesenji said:

In recent days there is the news that Autism had increased exponentially during the past three decades and while many people blame it on vaccines, this time period also coincides with the increase in adding GMO products to an enormous number of food products.

We've been genetically modifying food for as long as there has been agriculture. GMO has the potential to save poor people from untold suffering and death. Should we deny them that because we've created a bogeyman out of "frankenfood" with no real evidence to back it up?

Currently GMO is a big time racket that transfers wealth from U.S. & Western European taxpayers to Monsanto & a few other big companies while making the most food insecure 3rd world societies dependent on patented foreign seeds, fertilzers & pesticides... and hooking them on higher physical yields of lower nutrient mono crops.. people in those countries may have fuller bellies but malnutrition isn't getting better.. its gotten worst.. particularly in Africa where farmers have dramatically reduced the amount of farmland devoted to native legumes (black eye peas)

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Africa has a whole heap of problems of which GMO foods is probably far, far down the list.

I share Chris Taylor's cynicism about organic foods. Again, from a business perspective, if organic foods could be proven to be better for us, and taste better they would sell themselves. Demand would drive supply and supply would thus increase and prices would become reasonable for the Common Man and not the priviledged few. Organic foods are as big business as any other food product business and just as manipulative in their marketing.

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I agree. Philosophically, organic is nice but based on the facts I've seen its hard to say the benefits of organic foods have come close to being proven. I understand the arguments and some make sense, but lots of things that make sense turn out to be untrue ( see: leeches for infections...flat earth...searing seals in juices).

On the other hand, you only have one life and you need to do what you think is best (in the absence of data to the contrary).

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Africa has a whole heap of problems of which GMO foods is probably far, far down the list.

I share Chris Taylor's cynicism about organic foods. Again, from a business perspective, if organic foods could be proven to be better for us, and taste better they would sell themselves. Demand would drive supply and supply would thus increase and prices would become reasonable for the Common Man and not the priviledged few. Organic foods are as big business as any other food product business and just as manipulative in their marketing.

No actually GMO / Industrial foods are intimately tied to problems stemming from the Neo-colonialist relationship between the West & African societies.

GMO crops have lots of hidden costs that are currently subsidized by taxpayers... poorer African communities generally cannot afford GMO without U.S. "Foreign Aid" packages... Foreign Aid is generally a racket to benefit Western companies who spend a lot of dough lobbying / buying off government... Monsanto's relationship to Africa is kind of like the early days of Coca-Cola went it still contained addictive Coca extracts... Africa gets artificially cheap GMO seed, fertilizers etc., subsidized / purchased by U.S. taxpayers... they change their whole way of food production.. and when they are hooked or when U.S. taxpayers can no longer afford it... those subsidies / gifts will be taken away & Africans will have to face a food security crisis.

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I dare say you have never been to Africa in a business capacity. Graft, it is Africa's middle name. It's first name is corruption. Anyway, Africa is not the topic of the thread and organic farming or foods are not going to save them from famine.

Many people are proponants of raw dairy products on eG, as an example of organic farming and dairy farming in particular. I would submit that pasteurization has saved many, many lives by killing E. coli, tuberculosis, listeria and a number of other food-borne diseases. Remember that dairy cattle are not fussy and will lie in their or their fellows manure and an unwashed or not well-washed udder can yield contaminated milk. As well as cows who are not milked on schedule will develop disease and pass it on through their milk. Sanitary measures are often iffy at home dairies.

Edited by annabelle (log)
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Regarding farmed fish, surely farming--kind of like paper companies planting their own little forests--fish is better for the environment than overfishing wild salmon, tuna, etc.

My concern--and understand that I'm not shitting on the concept of 'organic' food here, it's just a concern--is that oftimes, organic food is marketed, by both companies and the people who swear by it ('it tastes better', 'it's better for you', 'it's all natural') in a way that makes it sound very much like alternative medicines. The fact that already we've had the 'links' between autism, GM food and vaccines brought up drives that point home. As someone actually on the big scary spectrum, I'm always, always, always amused by the 'vaccines/bad food did it' line. I'd love to see some double-blind trials showing that people really, truly prefer the flavour of organic beef, eggs, wheat, etc. It doesn't shock me that people often say nice things about the flavour organic meat--altho' I wonder if it's less to do with the fact that this steak is organic than the probability that someone who is determined to jump through all the hoops to get an 'organic certified' sticker is probably also prepared to put a bit of extra effort into what he/she feeds the animals, how much 'free roaming' space he/she gives the animals, etc. I'd also want to see actual scientific evidence--not just some quack from a news website--that says organic oranges are better for me than nonorganic oranges (or apples or tomatoes or potatoes or chicken thighs or eggs or rice) before buying into the idea that organic equals healthier. I'm far too cynical to just play along with the idea that oh, man, chemicals are bad and big food companies are evil, therefore the small producer that charges thrice the going rate for Roma tomatoes is a saint.

There have been reports that some organic produce is higher in certain elements (I think arsenic was one of the culprits), and I believe it has something to do with how the produce takes up nutrients from the soil. I have not read any reliable reports that organic produce is higher in nutrients, but personally that is not why I buy organic produce (not that I buy everything organic) - my reasoning has more to do with a concern over environmental degradation caused by excessive pesticide/herbicide use.

Regarding fish farming, it can actually be very damaging to the environment and to wild fish stocks. 'feeder fish' are being over fished in order to feed fish on farms, intensive farms can create disease pits which have the ability to infect wild populations and the farms themselves create infertile wastelands (prawn farming practices can extremely destructive to habitats). What's a seafood lover to do?

We try to buy organic meat as much as possible for two reasons: firstly certified producers have a higher standard of animal welfare (at least in Australia); secondly, we have done side by side tests of organic vs conventional chicken, and there is a taste difference. The last surprised me, because I wasn't expecting to notice a difference. I certainly can't say I noticed much of a difference in the taste of organic produce (a few farm stands notwithstanding).

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I can't even keep track of all the twists and turns in the organic farmed fish debate.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I dare say you have never been to Africa in a business capacity. Graft, it is Africa's middle name. It's first name is corruption. Anyway, Africa is not the topic of the thread and organic farming or foods are not going to save them from famine.

Many people are proponants of raw dairy products on eG, as an example of organic farming and dairy farming in particular. I would submit that pasteurization has saved many, many lives by killing E. coli, tuberculosis, listeria and a number of other food-borne diseases. Remember that dairy cattle are not fussy and will lie in their or their fellows manure and an unwashed or not well-washed udder can yield contaminated milk. As well as cows who are not milked on schedule will develop disease and pass it on through their milk. Sanitary measures are often iffy at home dairies.

What does raw milk have to do with organic products? I don't see the connection, and I think I see some straw peeking out of the sides of this argument...

There are a lot of reasons why organic farming is important. I'm not sure of the health claims myself, but neither can anyone else here be so sure that it doesn't have benefits. It's an open question, to say the least. Skepticism is very important, but its not a substitute for deep consideration. I see a lot of skepticism in arguments against organic food, but not a lot of deep consideration of what we know and don't know, and what may be possible or not. To say that organic food is practically worthless because its benefits are not proven is unfortunate. There are a lot of things still "unproven" by science, like the theory of evolution. We can't "prove" it because no one's been around long enough to see it, but if you look into the theory it makes too much sense not to be true. Similarly, its hard to prove that organic farming has health benefits because there are so many variables involved.

On the other hand, there's not a lot to be skeptical about when it comes to organic fertilizers. Petrochemical fertilizers are non-renewable. Artificial fertilizers based on fossil fuels, to my mind, represent a backwards looking way of thinking about agriculture. The benefits of organic farming practices, environmentally speaking, seem to me to be pretty good.

Talking about feeding Africa, as I said above, is meaningless. Nobody's mobilizing the grand technology of modern farming to stamp out famine in the world. Could it be done? Sure. But for how long? So maybe its a good idea to pursue alternatives. Organic farming practices are something we should be thinking about making more efficient, rather than denigrating them in favor of conventional methods. Why? Humans produced food for thousands of years using non-industrial methods. There's probably something we can learn from that, rather than presuming that modern technology is the only answer. Are the practices of the past as efficient as they can be? Of course not: that's why we need to think about how to make them better. Ultimately, we're going to have to pay the piper when it comes to our treatment of the environment. We should probably start thinking about that now. Organic farming provides one way to do that.

nunc est bibendum...

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I dare say you have never been to Africa in a business capacity. Graft, it is Africa's middle name. It's first name is corruption. Anyway, Africa is not the topic of the thread and organic farming or foods are not going to save them from famine.

Many people are proponants of raw dairy products on eG, as an example of organic farming and dairy farming in particular. I would submit that pasteurization has saved many, many lives by killing E. coli, tuberculosis, listeria and a number of other food-borne diseases. Remember that dairy cattle are not fussy and will lie in their or their fellows manure and an unwashed or not well-washed udder can yield contaminated milk. As well as cows who are not milked on schedule will develop disease and pass it on through their milk. Sanitary measures are often iffy at home dairies.

Yes so it makes soooo much sense to support something that is inherently Big Business like GMO in a place like Africa over the traditional inter cropping that has been displaced :rolleyes:

Further, I have not made the argument that organic / traditional farming will save Africa... the argument I have made is that the idea that GMO will save Africa is a myth, an illusion, a naive dream, unsubstantiated by reality lazily made by those grabbing at straws to find something positive about GMO in light of the real world, shady present of GMO Agribusiness

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No strawman, alcuin. We were talking about organic foods, not evolution* or Africa. Raw milk was at one time sold in organic food markets when I was in college, back in ancient times. I picked it out as an example of what some think is a healthier product, when if not handled properly, can be quite deadly. Sort of like giving honey to a baby can be deadly since honey can contain botulism spores.

* Proven, but this is not the place for that discussion.

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There is a myth that intense factory farming is more efficient or effective than traditional inter cropping particularly for lesser industrialized countries where labor is relatively cheap & imported synthetic fertilizers, pesticides & equipment are relatively expensive.

You take massive subsidies away from factory farming (including the hidden costs born by taxpayers instead of consumers), factor in the nutritional superiority of small scale inter cropping and intense factory farming doesn't look all that great.

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Regarding farmed fish, surely farming--kind of like paper companies planting their own little forests--fish is better for the environment than overfishing wild salmon, tuna, etc.

My concern--and understand that I'm not shitting on the concept of 'organic' food here, it's just a concern--is that oftimes, organic food is marketed, by both companies and the people who swear by it ('it tastes better', 'it's better for you', 'it's all natural') in a way that makes it sound very much like alternative medicines. The fact that already we've had the 'links' between autism, GM food and vaccines brought up drives that point home. As someone actually on the big scary spectrum, I'm always, always, always amused by the 'vaccines/bad food did it' line. I'd love to see some double-blind trials showing that people really, truly prefer the flavour of organic beef, eggs, wheat, etc. It doesn't shock me that people often say nice things about the flavour organic meat--altho' I wonder if it's less to do with the fact that this steak is organic than the probability that someone who is determined to jump through all the hoops to get an 'organic certified' sticker is probably also prepared to put a bit of extra effort into what he/she feeds the animals, how much 'free roaming' space he/she gives the animals, etc. I'd also want to see actual scientific evidence--not just some quack from a news website--that says organic oranges are better for me than nonorganic oranges (or apples or tomatoes or potatoes or chicken thighs or eggs or rice) before buying into the idea that organic equals healthier. I'm far too cynical to just play along with the idea that oh, man, chemicals are bad and big food companies are evil, therefore the small producer that charges thrice the going rate for Roma tomatoes is a saint.

There have been reports that some organic produce is higher in certain elements (I think arsenic was one of the culprits), and I believe it has something to do with how the produce takes up nutrients from the soil. I have not read any reliable reports that organic produce is higher in nutrients, but personally that is not why I buy organic produce (not that I buy everything organic) - my reasoning has more to do with a concern over environmental degradation caused by excessive pesticide/herbicide use.

Regarding fish farming, it can actually be very damaging to the environment and to wild fish stocks. 'feeder fish' are being over fished in order to feed fish on farms, intensive farms can create disease pits which have the ability to infect wild populations and the farms themselves create infertile wastelands (prawn farming practices can extremely destructive to habitats). What's a seafood lover to do?

We try to buy organic meat as much as possible for two reasons: firstly certified producers have a higher standard of animal welfare (at least in Australia); secondly, we have done side by side tests of organic vs conventional chicken, and there is a taste difference. The last surprised me, because I wasn't expecting to notice a difference. I certainly can't say I noticed much of a difference in the taste of organic produce (a few farm stands notwithstanding).

I can't even keep track of all the twists and turns in the organic farmed fish debate.

If concern for the environment is driving all this, then probably we shouldn't be eating beef or seafood at all. It's a conclusion we--as in people who really enjoy meat and seafood--probably don't want to hear, but it's a surer bet than fish gathered in even the most sustainable manner (and who knows what that is?) or beef from even the smallest and most expensive of organic producers.

Funny you mention the organic chickens. The Age recently reviewed a number of readily avaliable brands of chicken. It wasn't the most scientific of studies, altho' they did a reasonable job of keeping things fair, but the conclusion was that there wasn't much in it. Even the best chicken--which was merely free range, not organic--still received a score that was, I think, indicative of mediocrity. If you ranged a variety of pork producers and gave the best one a score out of 67/100, you'd be right in wondering if Australian pork was shit and that choosing 'the best' really meant 'choosing the best from a bad bunch.'

I've paid good money for Saskia Beer chickens and many other kinds of chickens, from the corn fed ones you can buy at the supermarkets to free range ones from the markets. And, honestly, most of them have been okay, but there's no real reason Saskia Beer's chickens should cost me three times as much as the Lilydale or Macro free rangers that serve as my go-to chickens. I know that if I go to Queen Vic market and throw down good money on some grass fed beef then I'll get my money's worth. It costs more than some cheap and nasty rump but it's much better than that cheap and nasty rump. There's a very pronounced difference. The difference with chicken, if it's there (and I reckon I've noticed it more with corn-fed birds), is nowhere near as pronounced and raises questions about whether, from a customer's standpoint, this bird is really worth damn near three twices as much as that one. Even if you can tell the difference between the two, I'd argue that anyone who says it's really three times as good is just trying to justify to themselves that they just threw down the best part of $30 on a chicken.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Bottom line in this thread we are to discuss whether paying a premium for organic is worth the price or a hoax. One argument advanced is that synthetic pesticides haven't really been "proven" to be bad for people.

Two elements to be analyzed... are sythentic pesticides generally bad for humans... and at what concentration?

Farm workers in high pesticide crops (such as Grapes, Bananas) are known to have tragically high rates of various cancers.. and causal relationships have been established.. here are some studies you can peruse:

Mills, P, "Cancer Incidence in the United Farmworkers of America 1987-1997," American Journal of Industrial Medicine 40 (2001): 596-603;

Vincent F. Garry et. al., "Pesticide Appliers, Biocides and Birth Defects in Rural Minnesota," Environmental Health Perspectives 104 (April 1996): 394-399.

As of now there is now comprehensive body of evidence to establish that synthetic pesticides are either bad or neutral for you at the concentrations typically found in produce. You will see some studies supporting either position but the # of substances studied for carcinogenicity (synthetic or naturally occurring in food / generated in the cooking process) is miniscule compared to the total number (for example roasted coffee has about 1,000 substances of which only a few dozen have been studied some are determine to be carcinogenic, others are determined to be protective against cancers such as anti oxidants etc.,) further some compounds that are generally believed to be healthful for humans are carcinogens for rodents (studies on humans are a minute.. most are conducted on rats)

In the case of grapes... it is well established that synthetic pesticides cause cancer among the farm workers...

1) We should have a way to allocate the hidden costs of the cancer treatments, human loss etc., back to the price of conventional grapes... we are currently paying for those costs in other means... taxpayer dollars, higher health insurance rates etc... then we can have a $ of $ comparison

2) There is no benefit to buying conventional grapes... these are a relative luxury not about feeding the world... they provide few calories etc., Organic grapes are not much more expensive than Conventional when grown on similar scale...

3) There is a hidden risk to eating conventional grapes... even if there isn't research studies clearly demonstrating that conventional grapes cause cancer in their current pesticide concentrations there is also NO research clearly demonstrating that they don't... who are you going to trust 2 Million years worth of human evolution or a chemical created 20 years ago?

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No strawman, alcuin. We were talking about organic foods, not evolution* or Africa. Raw milk was at one time sold in organic food markets when I was in college, back in ancient times. I picked it out as an example of what some think is a healthier product, when if not handled properly, can be quite deadly. Sort of like giving honey to a baby can be deadly since honey can contain botulism spores.

* Proven, but this is not the place for that discussion.

Sorry, but that was definitely a straw man argument. Nobody was talking raw milk, and I don't think raw milk and organic farming practices are really analogous at all. Connecting the two really begs the question, and attacks a viewpoint nobody said they held. That's the definition of the straw man fallacy.

Also, what's an "organic market"? I shop at a co-op that's probably one of the crunchiest in the country, the Willy Street Co-op, but it's not an organic market. Perhaps we're talking Whole Foods then? Count me as somebody who thinks that Whole Foods is a boutique "shopping experience" that I do think promotes the misapprehension that organic equals healthy. It's all about marketing. Whole Foods is not the ideal market: if organic food is going to work, it can't be boutique.

Then again, many people know this about Whole Foods (even though many do not), and I don't think raw milk has such a healthy image. Most people understand the benefits of pasteurization. Or maybe this just seems the case because I live in the dairy state and the milk industry is pretty strong around here (e.g., non-dairy creamers were banned from restaurants because the dairy industry wanted to maintain milk consumption...).

nunc est bibendum...

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