Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Live: Oh where, oh where has my soap box gone...

Okay, Stanford. *rolls up sleeves* I wasn't even suppose to post today, but I couldn't wait til tomorrow to say I have three letters for you: W.T.F.

So, there's been some buzz in the blog/"news"/facebook world about Stanford's latest study nutritionally comparing organic and conventional produce. To give you a really quick summary on what the deal is, the big claim is that:


“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods 
are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” 

Based on that sentence, newspapers have found a new way to restate that we are wasting our precious dollars "buying in" to some organic fantasy. Well, this girl doesn't think it's a fantasy if you don't mind, and here's why:

(Note: Though these thoughts are my own, I've also done some background research. A lot of these points are motivated by the more scientifically legit opinion of Charles Benbrook.)


1. For starters, another major claim that the Stanford study makes is that “consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-­resistant bacteria.” Okay. Does anyone want to increase their exposure to pesticides/chemicals/and antibiotic-resistant bacteria? I sure don't. I prefer my food un-seasoned with toxins, thanks. Doesn't it also concern people that you legally have to put up signs like this in conventional agricultural fields:

So we can't touch it, but we'll eat it...

2. The main idea behind the organic food movement was that organic food is better for the environment. Obviously, healthy environment = healthy us. If the air is fresher to breathe, if the water is better to drink, if the soil is richer to grow food in (because  of less pesticide/insecticide run-off, etc.), we're probably going to be healthier as a planet and thus as a species from the get go. Organic food impacts human health in so many ways beyond "eating more nutrients." (like all these reasons)

3. The people monitored by the Stanford study didn't eat organic food long enough to legitimately be able to test for a difference. However, "the one exception in the literature—studies spanning the duration of a woman’s pregnancy and the first few years of a child’s life—provide encouraging evidence that organic food can reduce the odds of some adverse health impacts, including birth defects, neuro-­behavioral and learning problems, autism, and eczema." (Benbrook) Reading more carefully into it, you'll actually find lots of examples of kids growing up on organic diets who didn't suffer from some of the things we now see as "normal" problems in most kids. (allergies, etc.) 

4. What do they call "significant" anyway? The Stanford study claimed there wasn't a "meaningful" or "significant" difference between organic and conventional but what does that mean? Other "non-biased" studies have proven that when comparing organic and conventional fruits, milk, carrots, grains, and several other raw foods, organic farming leads to increases of 10% to 30% in the levels of several nutrients, but not all. Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phenolic acids tend to be higher in organic food about 60% to 80% of the time. (check out this study if you need the proof!) 

5. To all the media out there using this study as an excuse to a) justify your continuous purchasing of foods that generally harm the environment, or b) that you want to rant (yet again) about how "expensive" organic produce is (I started debunking that myth through some work for the OCA a few years back),  you would have found some other excuse to poopoo organic food anyway.


(Update: For another great article, check out this response in Mother Jones.)


End of rant. To lighten up the mood, here's a more visual, less angry, explanation:

5 comments:

  1. Love love love your thoughts! Yes to everything! I already posted what I though in re: to you, but just wanted to say again how much I love you on  your soapbox ;-)

    Sharing with my readers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is all so so very true! Like you said, those who are going to "poo poo" organic anyway will find some reason to do tso! In the mean time..I'm going to keep doing what I KNOW is healthy!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks :) I always just hope that articles/studies like those don't discourage too many people who are on the fence about whether or not they should buy organic!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks :) I always just hope that articles/studies like those don't discourage too many people who are on the fence about whether or not they should buy organic!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amen! (Imagine me standing near you on your soapbox,shouting and fist-pumping the air in agreement.)
    =)

    ReplyDelete