Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Organic Food Is A Scam
Don't believe me? Check out this study published in Reuters, today.
(This is the part where I criticize people who don't know what the hell they're talking about while only pretending to know what the hell I'm talking about. Note my complete lack of nutritional credentials and absence of any sited sources for my many claims. Good thing this is just some jaggoff shooting his mouth on a crappy blog and not an academic publishing.)
There is no nutritional advantage in paying significantly more money for the exact same food. Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy. All of the thousands of food products under those categories also offer organic alternatives that cost a lot more. It is branding, pure and simple. By charging more, they create the illusion of superior quality. And like other similar products, the actual advantages of paying more is negligible at best.
Buying organic food is not evidence that you are more intelligent or more informed than the average consumer. It illustrates that you are gullible. Fertilizer, pesticides, growth hormones and whatever else farmers use to produce a high yield crop do not harm people one bit. And the absence of these things do not provide any nutritional advantage at all. But people don't spend more money on a commodity, that is universally available for much less money, unless they think they are smarter than the fools who buy conventionally grown food.
"Sure, I could pay a buck a pound for those giant, flavorful, red bell peppers. Or I could pay a buck seventy five a pound for the much smaller, wilty looking peppers next to them with the green 'organic' label. Evil corporate farms are poisoning our children with their chemicals and pesticides to make more money. Oprah said that growth hormones fed to dairy cows result in earlier puberty in children,type 2 diabetes and autism. So I'm going to pay more for less, because I know the truth. Everyone else is stupid but me."
Now, there are other reasons people buy organic food besides egotistical placebos. Some will claim organic food tastes better. I would suggest that by paying more, people convince themselves of any difference in quality. But organic food is usually grown closer to the place it is sold, so it reasons that will more likely be more fresh. That's fair. But you can still buy local, and therefore fresher and cheaper, produce in season. It doesn't need to be organic to be fresh.
There is a case to be made that synthetic fertilizer production results in a destructive cost on the environment. Most of those fertilizers are mined from quarries and result in significant damage to the natural state of the earth in that particular location. Many people choose to not indirectly support this practice by paying more money for food grown with compost. If that kind of symbolism is important to you, fine. But you should also avoid using anything made with concrete, asphalt or gravel, (you know, every building and road in existence) since those things are also products of planet raping quarries.
Eating organic food, driving a Prius, wiping your butt with recycled toilet paper. Whatever superficial lifestyle choice you make to convince yourself that you are not a environmentally destructive consumer, it all boils down to a snobbish transference of guilt. You're not making any kind of actual difference. You're just convincing yourself of an imagined personal superiority.
Perhaps you want to support small, family owned farms. I'm all for this. I frequent Salt Lake's Farmer's market. Currently I have a dozen ears of Utah corn in my fridge I bought from a roadside vendor. It may be organic. I really don't know. That's not why I buy it. I buy it because it's fresh, local, delicious and cheap.
The family farm in this country is something that is quickly dying out. Over the past couple of decades production methods have become more efficient and food prices have dropped. This is good for consumers and good for large scale farms that can afford the capital. But it costs more and more to stay in the game and more often than not, family farms can't afford to do it. So do you know what most of these small farms do to stay afloat? The maximize their production. Traditional fertilizers are cheap as hell when compared to compost. And considering the yield that results from them, it's far more lucrative to go the traditional route as opposed to organic. Most organic food is produced by the giant corporate farms who employ migrant labor at slave wages because it's the only way it can be produced on a large scale for a profit.
You want to support the small farmer? Buy the fertilized, hormone infused cheap stuff.
In the spirit of the Reuter's article, here is a clip from Penn and Teller's show, "Bullshit". Now, I usually don't take my political thought from "Illusionists!". But I do think this clip is pretty funny.