I think it’s time to add the “Farmer” into this blog! This topic has been an interest of mine for quite some time now. I’ve often wondered why people spend the extra money on organic food and products. Is it healthier? Is it better for the environment? Is it just a ‘”buzz” topic? So I posed the same question on my Twitter and Facebook accounts last week and here are some of your responses:
And my blog’s Facebook page discussion:
I have to point out that I’m not here to say “organic is bad” or “organic is good”…it really doesn’t matter to me what you choose to buy, but I just wanted to educate myself…and share it with you! In all honesty, this falls along with my husband’s line of work and he knows the science behind organic vs. conventional food growing and we talk about this stuff all the time.
I asked my friend Lyndsey of RealAgriculture for her thoughts on this subject and here’s what she has to say:
“I believe conventionally grown and produced foods are safe — including those that may contain GMOs. I believe GMOs are safe, but if you disagree, it’s important to remember that nearly all unprocessed food is GMO free — stay away from bad-for-you processed food (as you should anyway) and ta da! You’ve avoided GMOs. (they are found only in corn, soy, canola, sugar beet, cotton, NOT in produce). It is false to say that GMOs are in all our food.
A few key points about organics: over 75% of organic food found in Canada does not come from Canada. There are 2 things to consider:
a) Is the country producing the food really producing it organically? Organic food brought into Canada is only randomly tested and only has to meet current maximum residue limits (MRLs) for substances. This means that organic food can have the exact same levels of pesticides and stilled be labeled organic. That said, our food is safe and MRLs must be maintained for ALL food (local or internationally produced, organic or conventional)
b) Is it better to support local vs. organic? Is organic better for the environment if your cucumbers or tomatoes traveled thousands of miles to reach you? Think of the overall environmental footprint, not just whether or not synthetic fertilizer was used, please.
Organic food is NOT more healthy — that has been proven. You may perceive a taste benefit, but it is nutritionally equivalent.
Organic production still uses fertilizer and even insecticides, they’re just different. What’s more, organic production often makes use of manure (a good thing!) but improperly composted or raw manure is a key cause of food contamination. Plus, tillage is used more frequently in organic production — that can be damaging to the soil. There are trade offs for every production practice. Organic is different, not necessarily better.
My biggest pet peeve is about dairy — rBST is used in the U.S. (but actually not that much) but is COMPLETELY ILLEGAL for use in Canada. What’s more, antibiotics are used in dairy cattle (ever had mastitis? You’d want antibiotics, too) but that milk is DUMPED. A dairy farmer who ships milk with antibiotic residues would be fined a value equivalent of the entire truckload of milk. Still not convinced? Visit a dairy farm — those cows are pampered and likely are better fed and cared for than we are, as a happy, resting cow makes more milk. Organic dairy is likely the biggest scam going. Save your money!
I could go on forever….but really more people should:
a) Grow their own food — learn how tough it is and how important it is to feed the soil
b) Buy local — this is far more constructive than demanding “organic” from CHINA (for crying out loud)
c) Get educated — organic is not synonymous with better. Question everything! Don’t assume!”
Thank you for that, Lyndsey! That’s a very important thing to note – is it more important to buy organic or local? For my family, I’d rather buy food that is local and non-organic to decrease my “food miles”. Sometimes we can eat a whole meal with only 1 food mile on it! Veggies from my own garden and beef from our neighbor! For me and my family, I definitely prefer fresh veggies and fruits, and love them from my own garden and we buy lots of fruit when we go to BC every summer. I honestly only buy organic if it’s the only option available (note: the spinach in the above picture!). I have found that certain fruits definitely taste better organic, but on the whole I can’t really tell a difference, especially for the price.
I feel like I have to be really clear here: I am not “anti-organic” food whatsoever. I know a lot of my friends and readers buy organic foods for their families, as evidenced by my social media questions, I just want to challenge you as to why you do buy organic. Did you do your research? Do you know where your organic food is grown and where it is imported from? That’s all!
A a bit about Lyndsey: She’s the editor of RealAgriculture.com, mama to Elliott (1 year) and Hannah (nearly 5). She loves cooking real food, wearing her babies, breastfeeding past a year, working as a doula, and believes very strongly that we need more midwives in this country [Canada]. She also totally love farmers, farming, agronomy, social media, racehorses, and coffee! If you have any questions you can connect with Lyndsey on Twitter and on Facebook or leave her a comment here. She also thinks you’ll enjoy this post on “4 Common Ag Myths and How to Dispel Them“.
Thanks again, Lyndsey! Stay tuned, Friends…another Organic vs. Non-Organic post is coming up from The Farmer next week where we’ll look more into the science of pesticides and how conventional farming differs from organic! I’m also looking for input from an organic growing so that I can get the full picture. If you know anyone please send them my way!