Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is organic food good for you? (aka The Farm Fresh Fetish)

To continue on the theme of the previous post:

It turns out that during the Climate Change meeting next month in Copenhagen (which has already dashed hopes of an agreement after President Obama discounted the possibility of agreeing to definitive caps on emissions) Denmark has promised ecologically friendly fare -- tap water, fair trade tea and coffee and food that will be 65% organic.

Which brings us to the point of this post -- is organic food really the solution to the food problems of this planet? If it means recognising chicken as an animal and not a plastic wrapped package, no squeezable tubes of Go-Gurt, or granola bars 'fortified' with soy protein, omega-3, vitamin D and zinc, then the answer is yes. One doesn't need to get one's daily recommended dose of roughage in our coffee or all four food groups in our snack bars. It's enough to eat just normal 'real food' which includes mostly plants, not necessarily organic foods. Unfortunately, fears of bio-technology interfering with our food and a general distrust of the use of science and technology in agriculture has given rise to a fetish about the benefits of organically grown food. True, organic foods have slightly smaller ecological footprints but because of the present obsession with organic food, these are frequently then trucked to distant places, wiping out their ecological edge. It makes more sense to buy local foods but 'local' is frequently conflated with 'organic'.

Read about this and more here. And find out why there isn't -- and has never been -- anything natural about farming.


gaddeswarup said...

True but what worries people may be the different rates of our adaptability and the change in foods without long term studies. In this connection the follwing study may be interesting:

L said...

The use of endosulfan on cashew lead to severe disorders amongst the workers.The overuse of fertilisers lead to algal bloom. The use of diclofenac for cattle has decimated vultures that in turn has upset the food chain balance.... There are a large number of reasons why organic farming is the way to go.
As far as genetic engineering goes, there is not enough done to evaluate the risks...thirteen years is not enough. However, with the world population soaring, we must find out what these risks are and whether we can live with the risks...."all technology is good" is as misleading as "all tech is bad" The people who say transgenic crops have no bad effects are their manufacturers...more objective studies are needed.
Organic food should not be treated as a fad, but should be taken seriously.

L said...

A study