17 Responses

  1. Lee Ann Thill
    Lee Ann Thill March 26, 2012 at 7:19 am | | Reply

    I find all of the issues related to the food industry very depressing – Kraft and Nestle, which have a ridiculous monopoly over the entire food industry, the environmental and ecological effects of large corporations’ growing, producing, packaging and transporting practices, how labeling seems to become a bigger mess every year, and the government’s role in all of it. To the government’s credit, at least there are standards because I think our food supply would be less safe without them, but in the end, I think the government has created at least as many problems as it’s solved with such things as subsidies due to the food industry’s lobbying presence. Every time I read or watch anything related to it, I wish I had the time and energy to grow, raise and make my own food because the systemic nature of the problem seems so hopelessly beyond repair, and I think we pay for it, not just from our wallets, but with our health and the destruction of the environment..

  2. mollyjade
    mollyjade March 26, 2012 at 7:33 am | | Reply

    I don’t always buy organic, but when I do, I do it to protect the environment and the field workers more than to protect myself. Pesticides and fertilizers wash into waterways. And those fertilizers in particular create dead zones in the ocean. Agricultural employees exposed to large amounts of pesticides can develop health problems as can their children.

  3. Scott S
    Scott S March 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm | | Reply

    I can recall back in the 1990′s when the USDA proposed regulating the term “organic”. Up until that point, organic meant largely a self-regulated term and a few others such as Oregon Tilth standards which pretty much defined the term “organic”, and if I can say it, did a pretty fine job. But then the Feds wanted in, and initially, Big-Agri wanted to permit all kinds of crap allowed under the term “organic” that organic farmers and consumers fought hard to keep out. But you point out one of the biggest holes in that, which is that many smaller farmers concluded having the USDA organic certification wasn’t worth the effort simply to have the USDA badge on there. However, many still qualify for inclusion by certain retailers who maintain fairly strict purchasing standards (Whole Foods comes to mine). The bottom line is that I think Federal regulators ruined what was a fairly self-policed term that worked prior to that. The next step in this is that the Federal regs should make the process much easier.

  4. Mike Ratrie
    Mike Ratrie March 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm | | Reply

    Great post, Wil!

    As always there is much more to the story than what’s on the label.

    Reminds me of nutrition labels – how can there be “X” grams of carb in my bread/cereal/juice/milk every time?

  5. bh
    bh March 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm | | Reply

    i don’t agree when he says if you buy food that has pesticides that you can just wash them off this is misleading.common since tells you that the spray wont just get on the plant,but will get onto the soil thus also into the ground where the plant will absorb it into itself.

  6. Cowboymom
    Cowboymom March 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm | | Reply

    Thank you!!!! It is about time that the whole “organic” scam is revealed for what it is, bunk! I always tell people that if it doesn’t glow in the dark, then it is organic!

    I have seen too many charlatans make people feel better about themselves while fleecing their pocketbooks! They are “sold” on the “family farm” aspect when it is not true as you so aptly stated.

    We have one rancher who pushes “grass fed organic beef” from his “family ranch”. What he fails to share is that he is one of the worst if not the worst stewards of the land in the area. He also fails to mention that this is his hobby and his family has outside investments that are not in any way “green”.

    Thank you, thank you….finally someone who wrote an article such as this for something other than an agricultural publication!

  7. cj
    cj March 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm | | Reply

    You left off a very important reason to choose organic: pesticides and fertilizers are terrible for the environement (contaiminating drinking water supplies, feminizing frogs and fish, eutrophication, ect). Also, if you care about animal welfare, organic has certain standards such as required access to outdoors. Sure labling is misleading, but in the absence of other information it is wise to choose organic. Athough a good idea, Its not always practical to talk to your farmer. I sure wish your article would have covered the full spectrum of issues.

  8. Sarah Howard
    Sarah Howard March 30, 2012 at 6:33 am | | Reply

    I don’t disagree with most of this, but it’s not the whole story. There are studies that show eating organic food can reduce children’s exposure to pesticides, see:
    The pesticides they tested for in that study, organophosphorous pesticides, are toxic to the immune system (see and also may be linked to prediabetes and obesity ( Avoiding pesticide exposure is especially important for pregnant women and children.

    Not all organic food is created equal, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support the good organic farmers when we find them.

  9. Florian
    Florian April 2, 2012 at 7:02 am | | Reply

    Hi, Would you please write about this sometime.

    “there’s only so much insulin your tissues can absorb in one shot”. Literally.

  10. Michael
    Michael April 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm | | Reply

    Modern pesticides are water soluble. When spraying a field, the desired effect is deter insects from munching on the crop. With modern pesticides all it takes is one quick spray and insects are either dead or immediately deterred. Rain water then dissolves the pesticide to a point that could never be harmful. Everyone should do their homework before making comments about an industry they aren’t even a part of nor do they have knowledge of. Say what you want about Kraft and the likes but they have managed to feed our growing population, which by the way is the third largest in the world, all while improving our GDP and increasing the standard of living in the US.

  11. cj
    cj April 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm | | Reply

    @ Michael. Making a statement that modern pesticides are harmless to our water supply and aquatic life is quite the claim and I doubtful that it is actually true. If you are so sure of this please cite your source of information.

  12. cj
    cj April 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm | | Reply

    @ michael. Another point, it is foolish to assume that any chemical that is released into the environment in large quantities is benign. Just because no deliterious effects have been found yet doesn’t mean something won’t come up later after years of use. Decades went by before the effects of ddt were noticed and then banned. I also don’t understand your statement about how “rainwater dissolves it to the point it could never be harmful”- seems to go against the concept of non-point source pollution.

  13. Michael
    Michael April 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm | | Reply

    Hey cj, I’m sorry that you don’t agree with me. Now I must say that I did not mean to say dissolve, I meant to say degrade. Modern pesticides degrade to point where they don’t harm the surrounding environment. Obviously they do harm the environment in large quantities, but why would a farmer spend more money to spray large amounts of pesticides when they could just spend less, spray less and have the same effect. It sounds like you may be a supporter of all natural, organic pesticides. If you are, you should know that organic pesticides and organic fertilizer are responsible for most of the food borne illnesses of the recent past including several deaths in Germany due to salmonella infected spinach. Next, the effects of DDT were immediate. In the early 20th century, the average life expectancy was increasing so research into potential effects of chemicals was of no concern to producers or health organizations. The writer of this article most likely left the subject of pesticides out because they aren’t as big a problem as people and organic pushers make it out to be. Finally, this is a response to an article, not a scientific statement being published in a journal, hence I don’t need to cite my sources nor do I need to go into detail about my work with various farmers associations in Central Illinois.

  14. Michael
    Michael April 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm | | Reply

    I wasn’t clear about my point on DDT. I meant finish it with saying that Because there was no research into chemicals like DDT we never even knew there was a problem until many years later

  15. Hermit
    Hermit April 27, 2012 at 3:29 am | | Reply

    Your article is misleading and irresponsible. It risks making people feel more complacent about their choices. The fact that big multinationals own almost everything is ALL THE MORE REASON to fight by boycotting them and buying from local farmers. Consumers have tremendous power. Also, diligence in label reading goes a very long way. If people have the will to eat healthy, they should – and they should also be encouraged to do so, particularly by people of influence. Why don’t you write another piece on practical ways that people can succeed in buying organic? That will be far more beneficial for everyone.

  16. Jamie
    Jamie June 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm | | Reply

    I completely agree with the statement that we should be buying from local Farmers Markets. It is not true that it is more expensive – it just takes a bit more effort. Its my body and no one else is putting the effort into taking care of me except myself. I love the relationships that I have developed with my greens guy, my fruit guy and all of the other committed farmers that I meet every week. It make cooking for my family a true joy!

  17. Rose Vadnais
    Rose Vadnais November 24, 2012 at 8:59 am | | Reply

    I understand that we all need to think critically about this issue, but to state that “Organic is a lie” is really pushing it.

    I completely agree with your statements about confusing labeling, particularly when it comes to ‘natural’ ingredients or ‘free range’ eggs/meat. I hear what you’re saying about organic farmers opting not to participate in the government’s labeling system; I regularly buy from local farmers where this is the case. However, I don’t think that chastising people for trying to find a healthier option is the best way to make your point. ‘Organic’ is not a lie.

    Organics are clearly better for the health of our environment and bodies. Pick up a book if you truly think otherwise. If you want to believe you can peel off pesticides (surely none of those pesticides got into the water that was used by the plant to produce the fruit within the peel) be my guest.

    Another thought – we have to remember how lucky we are if we have a choice between organic and conventional; this isn’t an argument that everyone can have. I hope that those who have the luxury of making a choice about how they eat try to do what is right for the world outside of their own kitchen.

    Yes, labeling is confusing. However, this isn’t a reason to throw up our hands and give up on attempting to eat clean and eat well.

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