Links of interest: Organic food

Organic vegetable gardenOrganic Foods Slideshow: To Buy or Not to Buy Organic (WebMD)

A slide show with advice on when to buy organic and when it’s OK to use conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. Peaches, apples, peppers, strawberries, pears, grapes, broccoli, and more..

Organic: What it means on different products (Los Angeles Times)

Is the extra dollar worth it? Organic and conventional food may have similar nutritional value, but then there’s the environment to consider. “What we do to our environment, we are also doing to ourselves.” A good discussion of pesticides, dairy and meat, cosmetics and personal care products, processed food, cotton and coffee. Very informative.

Benefits of organic food questioned yet again (GMO Pundit)

Evidence from human studies suggests that children who consume organic fruits and vegetables and adults who consume organic cereal may significantly reduce their pesticide exposure compared with groups consuming conventional diets, although the levels of pesticide exposures in both groups is within accepted safety standards. There is no evidence of any other benefits of consuming organic food based on human dietary studies. Finally, although rates of bacterial contamination did not differ significantly between organic and conventionally grown meats, eggs, and milk, the antibiotic resistance of bacteria cultured from conventional meats, eggs, and milk was significantly greater than for organic products.

Is Organic Food Marketing Hype? (Newsweek)

Six experts disagree. “In eight countries which have looked at this issue, in every case they have concluded there is no health benefit of eating organic food compared with conventional food.” On the other hand: “Organic animals eat a diet free of excrement … [and] organic is free of antibiotics.”

Organic is healthier…but you can still get fat (Salon)

[T]he organic seal appears to make people believe their organic snacks have a lot fewer calories than they do. For example, people who ate cookies labeled as “organic” believed that their snack contained 40% fewer calories than the same cookies that had no label.

Attention Whole Foods Shoppers (Foreign Policy)

A very serious article that argues for industrial agriculture in the interests of feeding the world’s poor. “Stop obsessing about arugula. Your ‘sustainable’ mantra — organic, local, and slow — is no recipe for saving the world’s hungry millions.“

Carnivorous Climate Skeptics in the Media (The Atlantic)

Should we reduce meat consumption to prevent climate change? Are headlines like “Go Veggie to prevent warming? Bull” irresponsible and harmful?

[T]he environmental case against industrial meat production remains powerfully convincing. But when news outlets distort studies to raise public doubt about the virtues of consuming less meat, it undermines the consumer’s most direct and achievable forms of protest against industrial food. It takes away from us one of the most concrete actions we can take to do our personal part for Mother Nature.

What We’re about to Receive (London Review of Books)

The view from the UK:

What makes these conversations [about food] possible is the abundance we’re now accustomed to: plenty is the medium in which our anxieties, our pleasures and even our ‘ethics’ thrive. So it comes as a bigger shock than the salmonella scare … or the BSE scare … to hear the latest strand in the table talk: that the era of endless food is winding down. … [W]e are eating beyond our means and stretching our supply lines.

Book reviews: Three books about organic food (Washington Post)

These authors have different stories to tell, different flags to wave, but they’re all marching forward in agreement on one thing: The food we eat is in danger, and so is our environment.

The Earth’s Best Story: A Bittersweet Tale of Twin Brothers Who Sparked an Organic Revolution
Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer (The New York Times)

There have been many stories – pro and con – on the President’s Cancer Panel report. It argues that we are ignoring the significance of chemicals in the environment as carcinogens. This is an editorial from Nicholas Kristof.

Traditionally, we reduce cancer risks through regular doctor visits, self-examinations and screenings such as mammograms. The President’s Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.

No Bar Code (Mother Jones)

A 2006 article by Michael Pollan on Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm. Salatin (and Pollan) are featured in the documentary Food Inc.

[W]ith our food, all of the costs are figured into the price. Society is not bearing the cost of water pollution, of antibiotic resistance, of food-borne illnesses, of crop subsidies, of subsidized oil and water – of all the hidden costs to the environment and the taxpayer that make cheap food seem cheap. No thinking person will tell you they don’t care about all that. I tell them the choice is simple: You can buy honestly priced food or you can buy irresponsibly priced food.

Related posts:
What’s wrong with our food?
Pig dignity: Animal welfare in Europe
Is it safe to eat yet?
Is agriculture bad for your health?
Not just peanut butter: What’s happening to our food supply?


Photo source: Starting a Garden

Organic Foods Slideshow: To Buy or Not to Buy Organic, WebMD, July 20, 2009

Julie Deardorff, Organic: What it means on different products, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2010

David Tribe, Benefits of organic food questioned yet again, GMO Pundit, April 20, 2010

John Donvan, moderator, Is Organic Food Marketing Hype?, Newsweek, April 19, 2010

Ayala Laufer-Cahana, Organic is healthier…but you can still get fat, Salon, May 10, 2010

Robert Paarlberg, Attention Whole Foods Shoppers, Foreign Policy, May/June 2010

James McWilliams. Carnivorous Climate Skeptics in the Media, The Atlantic, April 22, 2010

Jeremy Harding, What We’re about to Receive, London Review of Books, May 13, 2010

Suki Casanave, Book reviews: Three books about organic food, Washington Post, May 12, 2010

Nicholas D. Kristof, New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer, The New York Times, May 5, 2010

Michael Pollan, No Bar Code, Mother Jones, May 1, 2006


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