Are Organic Foods Worth The Price?

In February of 2007, the Los Angeles Times ran an article that said, among other things, the following:

Since 1989, when organic-food activists raised a [bunked] nationwide scare over the pesticide alar in apples, many scientists have seethed quietly at what they perceive as a campaign of scare tactics, innuendo and shoddy science perpetrated by organic food producers and their allies.

Indeed, organic food activists are increasingly open about their fraudulent agenda. Organic Valley Marketing Director Theresa Marquez, for instance, laid out, in no uncertain terms, her strategy of falsifying data to dupe the masses into thinking organics are worth their premium price:

“We think it’s important that people pay more for food,” she said. “The question is: ‘Will consumers pay more for that?’ and ‘How can we convince them to do that?’”

And yet: “Organic food has no higher nutritional value compared to conventional food,” says Nutrition and Diet Professor Tom Sanders, of Kings College London.

Which is hardly news, however.

In fact, Professor Sanders is merely echoing what science has been saying for years.

The only people who really disagree are environmental groups and animal rights activists, with all their agendas and quackery — in response to which quackery, food science professor Joseph Rosen, of Rutgers University, says this: “Most [of their studies] are not designed, conducted or published according to accepted scientific standards, and many were done by groups that openly promote organic foods.”

Where, then, is all the proof that organic food is better and better for you?

“The short answer, food safety and nutrition scientists say, is that such proof does not exist” (Los Angeles Times, February, 2007).

Indeed, the very word “organic” has been commandeered by phonies, so that the term, which was once legitimate, has now become a conceptual void. Quoting, at length, the erudite R.I. Throckmorton, Dean of Kansas State College:

This cult has sought to appropriate a good word “organic,” and has twisted its meaning to cover a whole crazy doctrine. The facts are that organic matter in its true sense is an important component of the soil — but soil fertility and the kind of crops you grow on a soil are not determined by humus alone.

Soil fertility is determined by the amount of active organic matter, the amount of available mineral nutrients, the activities of soil organisms, chemical activities in the soil solution and the physical condition of the soil. Ever since we have had soil scientists, they have recognized the values of organic matter. The loss of soil humus through cultivation has long been a matter of concern. So the faddists have nothing new to offer on that score.

Organic matter is often called “the life of the soil” because it supplies most of the food needs of the soil organisms which aid in changing nonavailable plant food materials into forms-that are available to the plants, and contains small quantities of practically all plant nutrients….

The antichemical-fertilizer doctrine makes a great point of the fact that plant food in organic matter is in a “natural” form, while in chemical form fertilizer it is “unnatural” and thus supposedly is harmful, if not downright poisonous. The logic of this escapes me. Science completely disproved the conclusion. The facts are that any plant foods, whether from organic matter, or from a bag of commercial fertilizer, necessarily came from Nature in the first place. Why is one more “natural” than another?

A Plant takes in a given nutrient in the same chemical form whether it came from organic matter, or from a bag of commercial fertilizer. The facts are that practically all plant-food elements carried by organic matter are not used in their organic form; they are changed by microorganisms to the simple chemical forms which the plants can use — the same form in which these elements become available to plants when applied as chemical fertilizers. For example, it is foolish to say that nitrogen in commercial fertilizer is “poisonous” while nitrogen from organic matter is beneficial. The basic nitrogen is the same in either case (“The Organic Farming Myths,” R.I. Throckmorton).

Muck soil, as it’s called, holds as much as 50 percent organic matter — “organic” in the real sense of the word — and yet, according to organic pseudoscience, “You could do little to improve such soils.”

But in fact all that these soils need is fertilizer, as Doctor J.F. Davis, of Michigan State University, discovered:

The yield of wheat on unfertilized muck soils was 5.7 bushels an acre, while the yield on plots receiving the chemical phosphorus and potash was 29.2 bushels per acre. The yield of potatoes was increased from 97 bushels an acre with no treatment, to 697 with commercial fertilizer carrying phosphorus and potash. Cabbage yields were boosted by the same means from 1/2 ton to 27 tons.

And if you believe, as many people do, that “inorganic” food contains more cancer-causing pesticides, think again:

It’s a well-known fact that so-called organic farmers routinely spray pesticides on crops — albeit naturally occurring pesticides — one of which, pyrethrum, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as a “likely human carcinogen.”

This, along with a number of other findings, calls into question the very philosophy behind “organic farming.” Beware the scare-mongering, I beg. Read this exceptionally well-written article, from an exceptionally well-informed lady.

For a long time now, environmentalists have alleged that organic food is healthier. In addition to this, environmentalists have told us over and over that organic farming is better for the environment because our laid-back green farmers use no “synthetic” pesticides.

What they don’t tell you, however, is that these same laid-back organic farmers are permitted to use (”permitted” in the sense that they can spray with it and still qualify as “organic”) a number of so-called natural chemicals to kill pests, which natural chemicals are neither as expedient nor as purely benign as you might think. For instance, it was discovered almost a decade ago, in the year 1999, that rotenone, a natural insecticide squeezed from roots of tropical plants, causes symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats. That discovery came in addition to the previously mentioned pyrethrum data. It is true that in tests, these pesticides are administered in extraordinarily high doses, but so too is the dosage for synthetic pesticides. The fact is, neither are what you could legitimately call dangerous.

From the New York Post:

The EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee based its 1999 decision on the same high-dose rat tests long used by eco-activists to condemn synthetic pesticides. Because no one knows just how pyrethrum causes tumors, the committee also recommended assuming that even the tiniest dose can be deadly. (The same logic is used to brand hundreds of other chemicals as carcinogens.) Charles Benbrook, a long-time organic activist, notes that pyrethrum is applied to crops at low rates and that pyrethrum degrades relatively rapidly, minimizing consumer exposure. He’s right, but all this is true of today’s non-persistent synthetic pesticides as well. Pyrethrum and modern synthetic pesticides break down so rapidly that consumers are rarely exposed to any at all. Two-thirds of all fruits and vegetables tested as they leave the farm in the U.S. have no detectable pesticide residues — despite our being able to detect chemicals at parts per trillion levels.

Pyrethrum is extracted from a type of chrysanthemum grown mainly in Africa. It is literally a nerve poison that these plants evolved to fight off munching insects. The dried, ground-up flowers were used in the early 19th century to control body lice.In fact, many of the widely used synthetic pesticides are based on natural plant-defense chemicals. Synthetic versions of pyrethrum (known as pyrethroids) make it possible to protect a crop with one or two sprays instead of spraying natural pyrethrum five to seven times at higher volumes. Organic activists hold to the twisted logic that if a toxic chemical can be squeezed from a plant or mined from the earth, it’s OK — but a safer chemical synthesized in a lab is unacceptable. It is possible to farm without pesticides, as demonstrated by a farm family recently highlighted in Organic Gardening magazine. They use a Shop-Vac and a portable generator in a wheelbarrow to daily suck insects off crops. And even that won’t fight fungal or bacterial diseases, or insects that eat crops from the inside out. Organic coffee growers in Guatemala spray coffee trees with fermented urine as a primitive fungicide. Bruce Ames, noted cancer expert and recent winner of the National Medal of Science, notes that more than half of the natural food chemicals he tests come up carcinogenic — the same proportion as synthetic chemicals. These natural chemicals are collectively present in large amounts in the very fruits and vegetables that are our biggest defense against cancer (June, 2001).

The main thing for you to remember is this:

It’s not that which goes into a human that defiles her, but only that which comes out — for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Our lives consist of more than the vegetables and meat.

The food snobbery of the vegetarian, the vegan, or the organic-only nut is every bit as beastly as the food snobbery of the gourmand — and ultimately every bit as dangerous.

It’s all a form of gourmandizing.

“And gourmandizing,” as Karl Shapiro once sagely said, “is a sure sign of stupidity.”

14 Comments

  • ScummyD

    March 5, 2010

    Thanks again, Ray. This piece couldn’t have come at a better time. Me and my wife have been going back and forth about organics the last few weeks. She wants us to buy organic and I have been hesitant to pay more for them and have been questioning why we should do it. A link to your article here is patiently waiting in her email inbox now with the title “No more organics for me or see I told you so!”

  • anna mong

    March 6, 2010

    hope all you peeps enjoy your sythetic pesticides
    and enjoy the tumors on your organs you get from
    consuming them but don’t malign those of us who
    dont want to eat them and our kids.

  • Redmond

    March 6, 2010

    Hello Ray

    Wonderful post as usual, filled with pertinent and important information for those of us trying to make rational decisions in this complicated world.

    To further your point, another thing that the organic food movement has done is created a class based food distinction, as you point at the end of your piece.

    The more fortunate among us now have another thing with which to separate themselves from the poor, and it also allows them to ameliorate their guilt over their outrageous “ecological footprint” that any “Environmentalist” would think they have.
    _______________________________________
    Indeed, organic food activists are increasingly open about their fraudulent agenda. Organic Valley Marketing Director Theresa Marquez, for instance, laid out, in no uncertain terms, her strategy of falsifying data to dupe the masses into thinking organics are worth their premium price:

    “We think it’s important that people pay more for food,” she said. “The question is: ‘Will consumers pay more for that?’ and ‘How can we convince them to do that?’”
    _______________________________________

    In the past, the rich would eat at fancier restaurants, or go to specialty shops to get their higher priced items, but would most likely do the bulk of their shopping at the local grocery store.

    Now the local grocery store stocks “organic” items, and and people can demonstrate their moral superiority by paying too much for carrots.

    It is interesting to note, that it was once white bread that was reserved for the upper classes and dark bread for the peasants – that is now nicely reversed.

    Tied to that is that the rich were also once known as “Fat Cats” due to the fact that they had a much higher caloric intake than the general population.

    That has now too reversed, and it is the poor and morally degenerate who are overweight.

    Not too say that highly processed wheat flour doesn’t clog up your colon.

    Another thing to note – if we gave up on “unnatural” fertilizers and mandated that all food be organic, we would then have to cut down every forest in North America to feed the population.
    How is that for eco-friendly?
    Luckily the environmentalists have already figured that one out – reduce the global population to one 16th its current size(check out the book “Times Up” endorsed by none other than climate conspirator James Hansen), then we can all be peasant farmers, engaged in morally uplifting manual labour, cultivating “organic” produce for our green overlords.

    ECO-SERFS

  • Ray

    March 6, 2010

    anna mong, peeps? They’re loaded with toxins, I virtually guarantee it.

    And I don’t recommend you eating them any more than I recommend you eating your kids.

    ScummyD, that’s fantastic — almost as fantastic as your name. Report back and let us know what lovely wife has to say about your I-told-you-so. I wonder if she’ll capitulate.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Redmond

    March 6, 2010

    Hello Ray

    I forwarded this post to a blogger I have corresponding with – he is over at http://wastedenergy.net/
    In any case I thought his response to me was worth sharing, so here it is, posted with permission.
    ______________
    Aye, the word “organic” is almost as abused as “sustainable” these days. People seem to forget that the beginning of “organic” agriculture was in the “freeganism” (actually free food, not the dumpster-diving that has corrupted the word today) of plots grown in abandoned lots in Berkeley in the 60’s…a decade whose history has been so thoroughly written and overwritten that today kids think they are starting a revolution by “jamming out” at a Phish show. Yeah, rock out! (Just make sure you get stoned out of your gourds enough that you’ll never be able to think a truly revolutionary thought)

    Maybe they should listen to Cake first:

    Excess ain’t rebellion.
    You’re drinking what they’re selling.
    Your self-destruction doesn’t hurt them.
    Your chaos won’t convert them.
    They’re so happy to rebuild it.
    You’ll never really kill it.

    Meanwhile, Malcolm X is rolling over in his grave…And back to organics, now of course Stonyfield Farms is convinced they are saving the world by selling their product in Wal-Mart…talk about useful idiots! I posted recently about the atrazine scare and the “gender bender” effects on frogs – strange how we only seem to care about pollution when it makes us gay. Meanwhile the EPA, as usual, is probably going to play “whack-a-mole” and put some restrictions on its use all while ignoring the much larger effects of eutrophic runoff and monocropping, of which “Big Organic” is just as guilty as Monsanto and ADM. Hey, why does all my organic produce come from California? We actually have more fertile soil here out on the East Coast…(I live in Washington, DC)
    I love the flyer campaigns PETA is putting out these days promoting veganism too. Featuring celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix and others who have gone insane, likely from Vitamin B12 deficiency!

    And of course, one of the oldest pesticides used by humans is also one of the deadliest: nicotiana rustica, also known as tobacco…

  • Nick

    March 7, 2010

    Personally, I’d rephrase the title to something like “Are Organic Foods Healthier?”

    Are they worth the price? Sure. It certainly seems so. If people are buying them at the current price, then that’s what they’re worth.

  • Ray

    March 7, 2010

    I think that’s a fair point, Nick, in a way.

  • Stacy

    March 8, 2010

    Heifer International is a nonprofit organization which encourages you to buy a goat or cow or chicken for a family in an impoverished country. One goat can mean the difference between living and dying. How might a green/sustainable/environmental/globalist/animal rights activist weigh the issue? On one hand, they believe wealthy nations should share your resources with people who struggle daily to find food to eat. On the other hand, they believe livestock are evil because of the vast amounts of natural pollutants they emit into the air. Do they truly want you to send a goat to Cambodia? Calculate the carbon footprint of that one goat and they may decide to let the people starve in order to save the planet.

  • Dave Cochrane

    March 10, 2010

    “Are Organic Foods Worth The Price?”

    Certainly, as long as there are enough gullible idiots willing to pay it, then yes – they are worth the price.

  • WastedEnergy

    March 15, 2010

    Stacy, not everyone who supports organic food is as dumb as you think. Sometimes, there is nothing as tasty as a juicy steak – truly free range and grass fed, of course! And you really should give organic cheese a whirl sometime. It has a lot less growth hormone and other crap in it than the stuff you can get at the supermarket!

    Of course, we all know Whole Paycheck overcharges for certain things, and have to be wary. But all it takes is a little “using your noodle” to know the difference between what is really worth the extra bucks and what is just hype!

  • WastedEnergy

    March 15, 2010

    And…sometimes it doesn’t even cost more, either!

  • Stacy

    March 18, 2010

    WastedEnergy: Where in my post did I intimate that organic supporters were “dumb”? I clearly explained one example, out of the thousands available, of the green/enviro hypocrisy. Why won’t you comment on what I actually said? Do you want more examples of the hypocrisy?

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