You know when you see the “certified organic” label when shopping for food? You probably notice that its color is always green, and it’s pricier for a start. Then you ask yourself — is this food really helping the environment? Is this the way to go to save our planet?
There are enormous problems facing us such as world hunger, food security, and climate change. We will need 50% more food to support 10 billion people globally by 2050. Is the bio/organic label going to change all that?
Here are 7 myths about organic/bio food you need to be wary of.
1. Organic farming will reduce world hunger.
The UN 2030 Agenda with its 17 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) is a welcome beam of light in a very dark world. The only problem is that organic farming will never be mass-produced. It is simply not economically viable for producers and consumers. In theory, this is the way to go, but it is not practical on a massive scale.
If organic farmers want the envied USDA green and white Certified Seal label, they really have to adopt strict standards such as organic food for livestock and ensuring safe and clean water not to mention strict measures on the use of antibiotics.
Now you know why you have to pay anything from 10% to 30% more for the organic label.
“There are people who eat only organic food, and then there are people who don’t have tons of money to waste.”
― Jim Gaffigan, Food: A Love Story
2. Organic farming does not use pesticides
Another myth that needs to be debunked.
Bio farming uses lots of pesticides!
Yes. It is true that certain ones containing glyphosate, atrazine, methyl bromide, and organophosphates are banned. But have a look at some ones that are allowed:-
· Copper sulfate
· Synthetic Vitamin C
· Spinosad (derived from soil bacteria which can cause skin irritation)
The alarming fact is that farmers are hoping for government permission to use even more of these synthetic products.
You will probably be shocked to learn that fungicides containing sulfur and copper used by organic farmers are roughly double the amount used in conventional farms.
One reassuring note is that toxicity from conventional mass-produced farming, as opposed to organic, is not yet proved. The jury is still out as there are so many variables.
3. Organic farming will save wildlife habitats
The sad fact is that organic farming needs more land. If the world was capable of that sort of mass production, we would have to destroy one million square miles of forest. That would be a disastrous trade-off, in my opinion. We are running out of soil because organic farming has lower yields.
A better way to save wildlife is to reduce meat consumption and make other changes to our diet. Vertical farming looks promising and could save the world from starvation.
4. Organic food is healthier.
All those lovely nutrients in safely produced food is another “bio” myth. The bad news is that the nutritional value of organic fruit and veg gets less as it definitely has a shorter shelf life.
Studies have yet to prove conclusively that organic is more nutritious than its non-organic rival. Certainly, there are more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in organic food.
The real issue is that of antibiotic resistance which is a threat to global health.
5. Organic food farming uses fewer insecticides and herbicides
Not necessarily. You see there is an organic insecticide which is banned in some countries but not in the USA. They call this one rotenone and it kills off mitochondria which are essential for our cell health and growth. It may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.
But the main point here is that organic food and plants have hundreds and hundreds of bacteria and fungi.
We cannot make a sweeping statement to say they are 100% safer.
6. Organic food is great for the environment.
Yes, it is great, up to a point. After all, you say, it is much more sustainable as it uses fewer pesticides and that will enhance the quality of the soil. As it uses a greater variety of plants, this is helping biodiversity. It will also decrease the toxic run-off from fertilizers and that helps to reduce water pollution.
But there are a few uncomfortable facts that are never mentioned.
One is that sometimes organic farming can lead to greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions! Research by The Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden on peas grown under organic conditions shows this led to 50% higher emissions than peas grown with conventional farming.
Another study focused on organic farming in England and Wales and found that again, because of lower yields, the GHG emissions will shoot up.
Various lobbies jumped on these studies and said they were not universally valid.
7. Organic food will never kill you
Some years ago, my brother died because doctors were unable to find a suitable antibiotic to kill the E.coli bacteria which he had.
Many people foolishly claim that organic food contains fewer germs and bacteria and so it is safer.
The fact is that organic food is just as likely to contain these killer germs as mass-produced food.
The latest E.coli outbreak may have come from the Salinas region in California. The CDC advises against buying vegetables such as romaine lettuce which has the Salinas label.
The E.coli bacteria is not as environmentally friendly as you think!
These are the 7 myths going the rounds and often broadcasted by interested lobbies.
The USDA Organic label is no guarantee because it is practically impossible to trace the origin of organic foods.
Dr. Peter Laufer has written a timely book called Organic: A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling. He recounts the deception and confusion associated with organic food production.
The take-home message is that we should be very wary about the sometimes dubious origins of the “organic and “bio” foods.
Sadly, no surprises here as this industry is worth $27 billion and growing!
“Most consumers automatically assume that the word “organic” is synonymous with health, but it makes no difference to your insulin metabolism if the high-fructose corn syrup in your soda is organic.”
― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto