Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sticking It To Organiphiles (And Not In A Good Way)

In the plague of asinine ideas and individuals that have captured the imagination (and dollars) of the American public one stands head and shoulders above all the others- the organiphiles. ‘Organiphile’ is my pet term for an individual who is preoccupied with the consumption of organic goods- regardless of objective quality or pragmatism.
(P.S. I am well aware of the fact that I made fun of Michael Shermer for his liberal, spontaneous genesis of words so don’t waste your energy sending me scathing emails pointing out my hypocrisy. My words are FUNNY! So there!)
The pervasive idea behind this dumbness is that somehow organic food is substantially “better” for you (though often times better is an amorphous euphemism for ‘more expensive’) and ‘better’ for the planet. One website that hocks organic food and products even claims “Organic food is known to contain 50% more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than produce that has been intensively farmed.” (Organic Food Info).
Known by who? The people who have a substantial financial stake in the organic food market?
There’s a link that says ‘Read More About This Here’, but when clicked it takes you to a page selling a books. (Whoever would have suspected! Gasp!) Among the literature advertised is a book called Healthy Urban Kitchen that is written by certified fitness trainer.
Unfortunately folks, a certified fitness trainer is not a dietitian, doctor, biologist, or chemist. Understanding nutrition is not a requirement for becoming certified as a personal trainer (Certified). I looked. You can too.
Another book featured on this website tells you that the chemicals on yucky store bought food can cause conditions ranging from little to no motivation to low energy levels (My Organic) . (Which to the uninitiated, or anyone not suffering from mild retardation, those two conditions may sound a lot like the exact same thing.)
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that there is no evidence to support the claim that organic food has greater nutritional value than its’ traditional supermarket counterpart (Science Daily). Initial results indicated that organic foods may have greater nutritional content, but the most recent studies have discredited those early findings.
In some ways, organic food actually poses a greater risk to the public health than conventional produce. The likelihood of bacterial contamination is greater for organic crops. Cow manure, a favorite ‘natural fertilizer’, is an excellent source of E. Coli (The Skeptic‘s Dictionary).
(Remember the Black Plague was organic too, but that didn’t make it fabulous, now did it?)
Nor is organic food necessarily better for the environment. Organic bananas from the dark side of the moon are still going to have an enormous carbon footprint.
The Organic Food Info website says: “In the rush to produce more and more crops to satisfy growing demand producers have had to resort to using a lethal cocktail of pesticides to control disease and insect attack. Good news for their bank balances perhaps but not good news for your health, this is why you need to be informed of the advantages of organic food.”
Well, they seem to be presenting two ideas contradictory ideas. In the first sentence, the producers are responding to a demands for more crops. Why would we need more food? Obviously- because there’s more people. So the producers grow more. But that’s good news for their ‘bank balances’? Isn’t it also good news for all the people who… I don’t know…have food to eat? The demand for more crops was caused by a swelling population that demanded more food. If that demand wasn’t met, those people would have died.
Do people really believe that farmers masterminded a scheme to use chemicals (which cost money) to grow more food that they wouldn’t sell? How that be beneficial for their ’bank balances’? Someone would have to be buying it, and if someone was buying it, then it stands to reason that someone is eating it. The alternative is that people are buying produce to let it rot, in which buying organic produce wouldn’t matter because no one would be eating it in the first place.
This is just a hypothesis, but I would wager a human would die a lot faster from starvation than from the alleged ‘poisoning’ caused by ‘toxic’ chemicals.
All available evidence contradicts the idea that we’re being poisoned by our food. If the claim that the nutritional value of our food has declined since the advent of modern farming techniques came into vogue, then why would our life expectancy continue to rise?
The idea contradicts all available evidence: a population that is being ‘poisoned’ simply does not live longer than it did before. If it did, then it really wouldn’t be being poisoned, now would it (Life Expectancy)?
They have all sorts of answers to this questions. For example, medicine has offset the “deadly” chemicals. (We’ll forget for an instant that the same people who tend to be organic farming most ardent supporters also tend to denounce Big Pharma.) Unfortunately, medicine ultimately employs the same tactics as agriculture, so the argument that medicine has saved us from our food is dubious at best.
The organiphiles also overlook one inconvenient piece of reality: if organic farming was able to support the population, it probably would have. The agriculture revolution happened in response to a population that didn’t have enough food.
I believe some people who purchase organic produce simply because it’s organic have the best interests of their families and others at heart. But more are simply ignorant food snobs, who are attracted to the organic movement because of the elitism it supports. They eat organic food because they’re better than you. You can spot these people eating bags of “organic chocolate chips” or organic deep fried onion rings (made in genuine organic lard!). It sets them apart from the common, pedestrian populace eating common “regular” food.
There’s also a healthy number of conspiracy nuts in the organiphile camps who think mainstream anything is a scheme to kill your goldfish and eat your children. Attempting to critique the moronic logic of conspiracy nuts is too great an endeavor for this particular post, however.
So- it’s a good thing to want to be healthy. It creates a problem when you’re purchasing something based on inaccurate information. In the case of organic food, that error in judgment can get you paying as much as three times the amount for a non-organic product. With that kind of money at stake, it’s good idea to make sure you’re getting three times the value. And in most cases, you just aren’t.
And for those of you who think you’ve found a way to stick it to big business- I have some news for you. According to the Organic Trade Association sales from organic food and beverages totaled $16.7 billion. (I wonder how many precious, precious trees would be used to print 16.7 billion dollars? Would the OTA only use money made from the finest organic trees? I doubt it.) It’s hardly Mom & Pop revenue, and the people peddling organic food are hardly Mom & Pop companies. Wal-Mart now carries organic produce.
Remember the organiphiles don’t mind selling you a load of shit, so long as the shit’s organic.

Works Cited

Certified Fitness Trainer-

Life Expectancy-

My Organic Food Garden-

Organic Food Info-

Science Daily-

The Skeptic’s Dictionary-


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