Organic Food Study

I wanted to take a minute to weigh in on the organic food controversy.

There has been a new study recently published that calls into question the benefits of organic food. I have felt for a long time that the organic marketing has gotten away from it’s roots and that many people are misled as to what organic farming does or does not mean.

Our friend Eric wrote a blog post on this same topic a couple of months ago. And while I echo many of his sentiments, I have a slightly different take on things. I generally agree with what I feel are the goals of the organic movement, i.e. fewer chemicals on food and “healthier” food. The research shows that from a nutritional standpoint, just being organic may not be an improvement. In my own gardening, I take an integrated pest management approach, and try to limit the use of pesticides. In doing some research this year about organic fertilizers, I also found out that another one of the main benefits is that they enrich the soil whereas chemical fertilizers only provide nutrients. I had known this, but hadn’t really thought about it in that exact light. This is definitely a good long term benefit, but there is a cost/benefit analysis to be made when this is taken on a larger scale than my small vegetable patch.

My own studying has led me to mostly discount the organic label. What I think is really of value is adopting a slow-food/local-vore philosophy. If I buy something from a local farm stand or farmers market then I can ask the farmer how it was grown, when it was picked, etc. Knowing the true source is a much better way to ensure the freshest, most nutritious, and best tasting food. Buying local meat or produce, even in a grocery store is a better guarantee of quality than marketing on the label.

In the end, quality is what it is all about. I have seen organic produce that was well past its prime in the store right next to non-organic produce that was much fresher, but it still cost more. I like to use my senses and common sense to pick the best looking meats and produce from whatever source it may be, handle it properly and enjoy the benefits of fresh ingredients vs canned or frozen.

I know this is a controversial topic and elicits strong opinions on both sides. I like think that I am more of a pragmatic, middle of the road person by adopting my freshie-vore approach. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject – thanks!

Katie: Now that you have heard from Gray, let me add my two cents. My main problem with products labeled as “organic” is that there are no standards for that label. So, as Gray said, you don’t know what you are getting. I read the ingredients, evaluate the product, and make my own decision. I wish that organic had a specific meaning. Hopefully this will happen in the future!

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