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The Great Organic Product Scam


Was your Thanksgiving dinner yesterday organic? If so, you paid a premium for food that likely was no healthier for you and wasn’t better for the environment. Physician Henry Miller outlines the case for non-organic food over at Project Syndicate:

2012 meta-analysis of data from 240 studies concluded that organic fruits and vegetables were, on average, no more nutritious than their cheaper conventional counterparts; nor were they less likely to be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli or salmonella – a finding that surprised even the researchers. “When we began this project,” said Dena Bravata, one of the researchers, “we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food.”

Not only are organic foods no more nutritious than conventional products, their lower yields mean they can actually be worse for the environment to grow:

Another rationale for buying organic is that it is supposedly better for the natural environment. But the low yields of organic agriculture in real-world settings – typically 20-50% below yields from conventional agriculture – impose various stresses on farmland and increase water consumption substantially. According to a recent British meta-analysis, ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching, and nitrous-oxide emissions per unit of output were higher in organic systems than in conventional agriculture, as were land use and the potential for eutrophication – adverse ecosystem responses to the addition of fertilizers and wastes – and acidification.

Miller notes that organic crops may even be less humane, as the lack of pesticides used to grow them usually leads to more weeds, and it’s often women and children stuck with the arduous task of hand-weeding.

Scientists have known for years that the organic product fad is based on nothing more than wishful thinking and moonshine, but science denial is hard wired into the modern green movement. This is why so many people find the self righteous “pro-science” posturing by GMO-bashing, cult minded organic faddists so hypocritical when the subject of global warming comes up.

There are serious environmentalists doing real good out there, and we don’t want to tar them all with the same brush, but far too many greens want to use science like a piece of Kleenex tissue using it when it suits their prejudices and discarding it the second the purpose has been solved.

[Organic food image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Steve


  • NCMountainGirl

    About the best that can be said about the organic food fad is that the people with more money than brains who line up to buy this stuff in Asheville do at least help keep a lot of local small farmer in business. The local farmers were hurting after the tobacco subsidies ended.

    • Andrew Allison

      Not sure that I follow your line of reasoning. Isn’t there a fundamental difference between organic and fresh? Truth is that those with more money than brains shop at Whole Paycheck which, I suspect, doesn’t do much for small farmers.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “This is why so many people find the self righteous “pro-science” posturing by GMO-bashing, cult minded organic faddists so hypocritical when the subject of global warming comes up.”
    So you’re trying to say that despite a history of repeated scientific malfeasance, we should all faithfully believe the cult minded Green movement when it comes to “Global Warming” oh, excuse me “Climate Change”? Why did they change the name again? Oh, right because the Globe wasn’t Warming, like they said it would.
    The Scientific method is very unforgiving, if your hypothesis predicts something, and experimental evidence doesn’t confirm it, they your hypothesis is WRONG!

    • Andrew Allison

      I read it exactly oppositely.

  • ljgude

    I spent my youth on my hands and knees weeding endless rows of organic turnips with my mother and sisters. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew I’d grow up to be man and could finally leave the weeding to the women and children. It was almost as bad as being an alter boy……

  • BobSykes

    I taught environmental engineering and science for 37 years. Environmentalism is a cesspool of cant and superstition, and many environmental groups are little more than violent criminal gangs. That includes Green Peace, Friends of the Earth and the Earth Liberation Front. The field abounds in pseudoscientist frauds like Paul Ehrlich and his former colleague John Holdren.

    Environmentalists are for the most part totalitarian socialists. In the 30s, they had an affinity for Naziism, nowadays they’re mostly communists. But always, they hold human beings in contempt. Many want to reduce the human population to a few million hunter-gatherers.

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