View Full Version : Organic vs. non-organic food

06-06-2011, 06:09 AM
I know we've talked about this before. I've been reading about the German E.coli outbreak that was tracked back to an organic farm.

While I think that limiting one's exposure to pesticides and especially antibiotics and hormones is likely good, the critics of organic produce say that organic farmers use pesticides as well.

I am having trouble finding firm evidence one way or the other. I've seen a chemical like artificial colors being linked to ADHD or industrial exposure to pesticides by workers leading to birth defects but that hardly applies to food.

Does anyone have any information/opinions about longterm effects on health, one way or another. Been arguing with friends who think that organic is just a brilliant marketing ploy, while I err on what I think is the side of caution.

06-06-2011, 06:24 AM
I'm not going to argue about health benefits of organic vs. non-organic foods, but I do know that I definitely prefer the taste of many organic products. I'm usually very good at identifying whether certain foods are organic or not (not all foods, mind you, but some, like meat, milk, berries, and nuts).

I will say that irrationally or not, I feel weird about certain things like rBGH being in my food. Whenever I'm in the States, I make an effort to avoid any products made from cows treated with rBGH, which usually means that I have to buy organic dairy and beef products.

06-06-2011, 11:54 AM
I'm not sure. I try to buy things like organic milk and meat but considering the nutritional content of organic vs non-organic veggies is no different I have a hard time caring much.

06-06-2011, 12:51 PM
He doesn't get into the health effects, but if you want a really good overview of the organic industry, then Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma is a great place to start.

06-06-2011, 01:01 PM
My father was a farmer all his life and he only had the 4th grade, in his lifetime he went from a traditional style of agriculture to the adoption of machinery and pesticides to aid in the growth of the plants, if you could ask him or any of his colleagues of any age that have been in the trade long enough, they'd all tell you that fertilizers and pesticides are harmful even if they have absolutely no scientific knowledge to support the idea. Why? Because they know first hand how these chemicals affect their health and that of the living organisms they care for, unfortunately they have to keep using them because it's very hard to convert to organic and still maintain any type of income, at least here in Portugal, for younger farmers it is a possibility, but I'm talking mostly of men in their sixties. I've always seen my father buying from local farmers whenever possible and being careful choosing the vegetables he bought, he knew what he was doing, when he was at my house and I bought organic local products for him he loved it.
I regularly buy from an organic farmers' market, the taste of the vegetables is very different and I believe the nutritional value is too but that's probably due to their freshness and not necessarily the fact that they are organic.
Even if some pesticides are allowed in organic farming, the quantity you'll be ingesting is minimal compared to non-organic, also the chemicals won't accumulate in underground water supplies, in wild animals and plants, etc...

How many of your friends are even remotely linked to farming? Do they have an idea of the amount of pesticides that are used to grow vines, tomato plants, melons or strawberries? Some plants are injected with chemicals to make them mature faster, how can they possibly have the same nutritional value as a plant which had its normal growth rate?
I've seen recent studies that show no significant different in the nutritional value of organic vs non-organic vegetables, but I spotted a flaw in the studies, they controlled all the variables in the growth of the plants, which is great to have a neutral conclusion, but doesn't accurately represent the food that we buy in the supermarkets. Many farmers will use too much fertilizer thinking it will be good to their crops when in fact sometimes they are just "burning" the plants or stunting them. Others will use pesticides as a precaution of plagues. You also have the case of cultures that are made in very poor soil which need higher amounts of fertilizers to grow. There are so many variables that when you add everything up you have a huge amount of chemicals bonded to your food, these stress your liver, your colon and your kidneys, do we really need to stress our internal cleaning mechanisms with unnecessary chemicals? The studies are too neat and tidy, I would like to see someone comparing random samples of supermarket bought vegetables and fruits and foods bought at the local farmers market, I don't believe the results would be the same. In fact, I know a local farm, which is linked to an association that aids people with cerebral palsy and thus is not a commercial enterprise, which conducted some tests on the items they produce organically and some traditionally grown(don't know if from their farm or supermarket) and they stated the organic ones have a better nutritional value.

To sum it up, I don't care for scientific tests on the subject, I know what my mouth tastes and what good sense tells me, organic and fresh is better than supermarket non-organic and definitely not so fresh. To be honest I don't find that much difference in the supermarket organic foods(which are expensive as hell) with the exception of strawberries and potatoes, so I think that not all organic is made the same.