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May 2, 2010 06:39 PM

Organic Produce: A beautiful lie

I've been reading a lot about organic food recently. I started my search on organic produce when a local produce store owner voiced his doubts about organic food. I decided to see for myself, since telling customers organic is not all its cracked up to be would be within the owner's best interests. I've read several articles, and I've come to the following conclusion about organic produce.

Organic started out as a great idea. Small farmers treating the animals, workers, and environment with respect. The innovative small farmers painted a picture of beauty and ethics. Big companies wanted in once the organic movement took off.

Big companies took advantage of the picture created by small farmers. One of the big concerns with the original organic movement is local produce. Once the government stepped in and started the organic certificate program to make things "better" things really went downhill. The organic certificate program is expensive and helps big farms more than small farms. Particularly the regulation that an organic crop must be grown at least a certain distance from a processing plant.

Not only that but organic is not pesticide free. Many of the natural pesticides need to be applied more times to get the same benefit as a synthetic pesticide. Also the same natural pesticides can be very detrimental to the environment.

What trumps all in my opinion though is where organic food is grown. Remember the original organic movement involved local produce. Many of the organic foods being sold are being grown in California, New Zeland, and China. China for crying out loud. Do you really think organic food grown in China is healthy or better than conventional food?

In conclusion organic food in its current form may be grown from a small farm. Instead, you are most likely buying from a gigantic farm very farm away. In short, you are buying inferior quality food at premium prices. Yes, organic food in my opinion is inferior quality because of the nutrients lost in transportation.

Thoughts, comments, ideas on where to buy good local produce?

Here's my sources:
Brady, Diane. Businessweek. "The Organic Myth"

No author nor title, talks about natural vs synthetic pesticides and organic foods

Kuepper, Georg. Organic Farm Certification & the National Organic Program

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  1. I believe it, because it started to hit me when a family member decided to go into the "organic business" and this was overseas, so shipping things over here because they are grown without pesticides in a specific region (no regulations as far as I know)

    I like the idea of locally grown, organic food, but not everything we buy and need can come from certain climates so this is when I really started to think about things differently.

    Thank you for raising these points, I will read the articles you posted too.

    1. Didn't Pollan cover this in the Omnivore's Dilemma?

      Did you add anything new here?

      3 Replies
      1. re: toomuchfat

        Well, Bottomless Pit convinced me that I was right in my original suspicion that I would be paying too much for too little if I was suckered into buying organic produce.

        1. re: toomuchfat

          Yes, plus I think it's fairly common knowledge anyway to people who want good food. Michael Pollan did say it was marginally better to buy from large farm organics over large farm non-organcs, FWIW. When WF sources its frozen organic vegetables from China, you know organic isn't always better. Buying by sound bites like "always buys organic" doesn't work.

          To the OP, ideas on buying local, try:

          If you're buying from a farmers market, get to know the farm (and make sure it's not someone just picking up produce from the terminal market). Or better yet, start your own garden.

          1. re: toomuchfat

            Yes - bringing it up for discussion among the Hounds. This is the cliff notes version. :)

          2. I never really bought the organic argument. Seemed like over price stuff to me.


              1. "...ideas on where to buy good local produce?" Join a local CSA.