Should We Eat Organic Vegetables?
You may remember that last year I wrote a persuasive article about organic food, in which I claimed organic food to be the best thing to be eating, not only for yourselves, but also for the planet.
After 12 months of thinking about it, scratching my head, itching my chin, looking puzzled at the sky, I’ve realised I was possibly a little hot off the mark for singing the praises of Organic without fully looking into the facts.
Having read the evidence and weighed up each side, I have to say that organic fruit and veg isn’t as good as it may have seemed.
There. I said it.
I can hear a million hessian-clad hipsters scream into their Clipper Green Tea.
There are around 7 billion people in the world and 1 in 9 of these people are currently dying of starvation. To contrast that, in the UK, around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year.
Organic veg doesn’t contain a lot of preservatives meaning that food spoils quicker, and therefore, typically more food would be wasted. This doesn’t sound so ethical when there are thousands of starving people in the world.
Organic veg is also much harder to grow due to the lack of pesticides which are used. A lot of the food is ruined by pests, such as mice or slugs, again contributing to waste.
There would also be a much bigger starvation epidemic if everyone turned to eating organic food as there simply isn’t the space to grow the crops and farm the animals organically.
People who say that organic food is healthier for you, aren’t really looking at the figures. There is an 8% increase of risk in contracting E.coli from organic food due to the lack of pesticides used. E.coli is a stomach disease which commonly leads to sickness, but can also cause kidney failure and even death. Would you really want to feed your children organic vegetables now?
You also need to look at what pesticides and preservatives are allowed in the cultivation of organic vegetables. One common pesticide is retinode which has a direct link to the cause of parkinson’s disease.
Having considered the problem of starvation in the world, you also need to think about the farmers. It is often very expensive for smaller, independent farmers to grow organic foods due to stricter regulations and also the fact that a lot of food is spoilt due to the lack of pesticides and preservatives, so farmers have to produce a lot more food to make a profit.
People like to think that by eating organic veg, they’re doing the world around them a big favour, but ‘organic’ producers can often be big corporations who are putting smaller farmers out of business.
There is also very little independent research to support the idea that organic vegetables are healthier for you to eat. Think about the years before the war when all food was ‘organically’ grown, then look at the life expectancy rates and the diseases caused by lack of nutrition. I know you could argue that this was because of lack of nutrition education, but there is still a link between food consumed and life expectancy.
Most scientists who, ten years ago claimed non-GM food was the best thing to be eating have now gone back on these findings, and a lot of them are now rallying for more food to be genetically modified and not organic.
My personal view is that Organic vegetables and fruit are a little more than a very clever marketing scam. People think that because they’re buying something with an organic label stamped on it they are somehow saving the world, but the reality is quite different.
However, I do believe we have a duty to care for the soil for the generations after us, which means not using a lot of preservatives and pesticides on the ground, and decent farmers have similar views with regards to this.
Furthermore, I also think that organic meat, and by meat I mean beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and not fish (because that’s a whole different kettle of, well…fish) is a good thing to be supporting. Animal welfare in organic farming is of a much higher standard than non-organic, and in a country where the treatment of farm animals is becoming worse and worse, organic can only be a good thing.
Fairtrade is the second biggest scam of the 21st Century. By buying fairtrade, you aren’t saving poor farmers, but are infact buying into a huge scam.
You see, for a farmer to qualify as a ‘fair trader’, they have to jump through a lot of hoops. Most small producers can’t afford to make their company fair trade, so fair trade only benefits larger producers.
Also, when you look at how much more expensive fair trade products are as opposed to ‘normal’ products, you’d hope that a lot more money went to the producer, but unfortunately only a tiny proportion of the extra money is passed on to producers.
Click here for a good video dispelling the myths of the 21st Century