The Running Score: Organic Verse Conventional

15 03 2011

Today is it virtually impossible to buy or eat everything we want without something be labeled “organic.” My favorite snack, fruit leather, has cashed in on this growing niche market… and at $6.00 a box or so it must be working out for them. I would gladly eat fruit leather of the non-organic variety and when it comes down to cost, I would prefer it.

So why are so many people doling out the dough to eat organic diets? It might be that it protects the environment, saves the soil, or that is better for our bodies, healthier. It might be that they just don’t know the facts.

And truthfully, neither did I.

What makes something organic? Common answer: it’s all natural. Even more correct, scientifically based answer: Soluble mineral inputs are prohibited and synthetic herbicides and pesticidesare rejected in favour of natural pesticides. Natural, yes. But is it better?

And why is it so expensive? Well, organic farming practices mean lower yields and inefficient use of the land.

An article by Anthony Trewavas said that the leading organic researcher admits that in organic farming “there is very little science” and “this gives rise to a great deal of illogicality and confusion particularly insome areas of production.”

I would think that when it comes to the health of the environment and our families, science would be of the utmost importance.

So here is the break down so far: organic means expensive, unscientific production of food. Conventional is, and again Trewavas said it best: a diverse set of technologies using the best available knowledge, whose ultimate goal is the safe, efficient provision of foods in abundance and at lowest price.  And the score stands:

And as we stand:

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3 responses

4 04 2011
Bob Matthews

When it comes to information on organic agriculture, you should point that first card directly at Prof. Trevawas! Look at other sources before you award yourself the second card.

4 04 2011
ruralroutereview

This is very true. I merely tried to summarize his points and include my own perspective on the topic. That is why I ended it with the photograph stating “somewhat informed consumer” because I realize that one article (and one summarization thereof blog post) do not encompass all the necessary information needed to be informed consumers.

This is obviously a complicated topic that requires a lot of different perspectives and conversations. I didn’t mean to imply that this post included all the research needed to be fully informed consumers–it has been too a hectic semester to even attempt that feat.

And it is a feat. Organic verse conventional (in my opinion) is causing a rift in the industry and forcing farmers to plan around each other rather than the season, weather, etc. It is also affecting the budget of American families. This was just an attempt to prompt curiosity and further research.

22 05 2011
F Maguire

It is worth noting things like Sulphur and Bordeux mixture (copper(II) sulphate and hydrated lime) are considered as “organic” pesticides.

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