why organic?

In a long-ago post on Frankenfood, I focused on the potential dangers in consuming it, and glossed over what I think is actually the larger problem: the world’s food supply in the greedy, grubby paws of a few corporations who think altruism is the latest Nissan model.

Similarly, the debate on organic food seems to focus on whether it’s healthier to eat. It would seem so, intuitively – which would you rather have, this broccoli grown in dirt, or this broccoli grown in dirt and then sprayed with poison? – but there is very little solid evidence for a causal relationship between eating pesticided food and developing cancer or having chronically ill babies or whatever the problem du jour is. I suspect that this evidence is lacking because there’s no market for it, whereas some people will pay a lot for evidence that pesticides are safe, but we’ll leave that for now.

But you know, that was never the only issue, maybe not even the most important one. Pesticides in the water, in the air, damage other species – some that we depend on, some that we don’t, but they have a right to exist without regard to whether we find them useful or not. I’m alarmed by the massive bee die-off we’re seeing in the U.S. and Germany (and elsewhere as well). And the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico (and elsewhere).

DrBob notes that organic food is more expensive, and believes it’s a scam – for him, that’s the beginning and end of the issue. He doesn’t believe the price accurately reflects the real cost, and he will not be taken in. For my part, I believe that money talks louder than votes (yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect, but it sounds better), so when I spend money on organic food I’m sending a message that this is something that matters to me.

What matters? My health and the health of my children, of course. But also clean water, clean air, clean dirt (hmm…) for other species to live in, including honeybees. I’d rather not give fatcat corporate freebooters the means to hold us all hostage to their spiralling greed. And I reject the idea that, to get what we need, we have to conquer nature when we could be cooperating. Here she gives us all this lovely food, and what do we do? Mace her and demand more.

Song du jour of the day: Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell.


3 responses to “why organic?

  • amy

    Well, why not organic? No, actually I prioritize. Food has become so complicated, though. Apples are on every top 10 list I’ve ever seen for most-contaminated foods, yet what’s the energy cost to get organic apples to the Northeast, where conditions are such that it’s pretty much (so I’ve been told) impossible to grow apples organically? (We eat lots of apples from your home state! And also, New Zealand, although I try not to buy those if possible because–New Zealand! So far away!)

    I dunno, I think we all eat fairly well. It’s important to me–how something is grown, where it’s grown, how it gets here–I just can’t always do as much as I want to do, y’know? Like those apples. We eat a lot of apples…

  • camellia

    I fully agree with you alala and I buy organic whenever possible. The thing is there are many thorny issues around this–as Amy pointed out, is it better to buy organic or local? Both, obviously, but not always an option.

    • alala

      Oh, totally, that really bugs me here in Europe: local pesticide-food or organic from Chile? And often the pesticide-stuff is sold singly and the organics come in styrofoam packs! Ditto for organic milk in weird hybrid paper-plastic packaging, like giant juice-boxes, or local pesticide milk in the reusable deposit-bottles. Gah! Hello, know your market, people?

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