News You Can Use: Organic Doesn't Mean "Grown Without Pesticides"

On Saturday, The New York Times ran a piece about a woman who buys her veggies at the farmers market after getting hit with a bad case of E. Coli. There are lots of reasons to be skeptical about this approach. Of broader interest, however, was the correction that appeared on the piece today, four days later:

The Patient Money column on Saturday, about ways to reduce exposure to foodborne pathogens, referred imprecisely to a requirement for organic labeling. To be labeled organic, crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides; certain botanically derived pesticides are acceptable. The label does not mean “grown without pesticides.”

The claim in the original piece was written, then likely vetted by a minimum of one editor and one copy editor. To be fair, the writer seems to be someone who covers health care most of the time, not food, and the story seems to have run in the Health section of the paper, not Dining & Wine. And the piece even notes that an organic label does nothing to protect you from E. Coli. But then there's this:

On the other hand, there is something reassuring about buying from a small organic farmer at a local stand or farmers’ market, even if it does cost more....most people can’t help but feel that food grown and raised on a small farm is a lower risk.

The corrected error and its framing illustrate what laymen believe about organic food, and how bias can operate in a newsroom, even on non-political topics: Organic food is not somehow magically grown without a mechanism for killing the bugs that like to eat crop plants. Instead, organic farmers, especially large commercial farmers, frequently use the same mechanism as conventional farmers—pesticides. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. UPDATE: Seriously. There's nothing wrong with that. The list below are all substances that are deemed safe. But so are the pesticides used on conventionally grown food.)

Just as a handy reminder, here is an small part of the list of of pesticides and other substances approved for use on organic crop farms:

(e) As insecticides (including acaricides or mite control).

(1) Ammonium carbonate—for use as bait in insect traps only, no direct contact with crop or soil.

(2) Boric acid—structural pest control, no direct contact with organic food or crops.

(3) Copper sulfate—for use as tadpole shrimp control in aquatic rice production, is limited to one application per field during any 24-month period. Application rates are limited to levels which do not increase baseline soil test values for copper over a timeframe agreed upon by the producer and accredited certifying agent.

(4) Elemental sulfur.

(5) Lime sulfur—including calcium polysulfide.

(6) Oils, horticultural—narrow range oils as dormant, suffocating, and summer oils.

(7) Soaps, insecticidal.

(8) Sticky traps/barriers.

(9) Sucrose octanoate esters (CAS #s—42922–74–7; 58064–47–4)—in accordance with approved labeling.

(f) As insect management. Pheromones.

(g) As rodenticides.

(1) Sulfur dioxide—underground rodent control only (smoke bombs).

(2) Vitamin D3.

(h) As slug or snail bait. Ferric phosphate (CAS # 10045–86–0).

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  • DG||

    I much prefer to eat foods that have been covered in animal shit rather than chemicals. No chance of getting any nasty pathogens from that.

  • ||

    "On the other hand, there is something reassuring about buying from a small organic farmer at a local stand or farmers’ market, even if it does cost more....most people can’t help but feel that food grown and raised on a small farm is a lower risk."

    Ah, yes! The good old days when 95% of the people were serfs happy peasants living naturally and dying before 40 of communicable diseases in harmony with nature.

  • ||

    Wouldn't an "organic" farmer be more likely to use organic fertilizer (a/k/a cowsh*t) than an industrial farmer who will use chemical fertilizers? And which is more likely to carry e-coli or other feces-borne pathogens?

  • Nigel Tufnel||

    Well that's just nitpicking...

  • mad libertarian guy||

    No.

    There are various organic fertilizers and supplements such as kelp and alfalfa which are not derived from animal shit. Either way, any commercial manure has been vetted for pathogens through a composting process which, essentially, cooks any pathogens out as it breaks down.

    Either way, for organic foods to be certified organic, they cannot have Bern treated with a manure fertilizer for "x" days before harvest (usually greater than 14).

    Http://www.puregrowthorganics.com

  • Lindsay Bluth||

    Vitamin D3 is what Reason calls a pesticide? As are ammonium carbonate and boric acid - which have no contact with food? Stick traps, for god's sake?!

    The Times is such a ridiculously easy target too - the pathetic gray lady in an online word. But it's like making fun of the kid whose parents are rich but who has no potential of a future beyond an entry level desk job. Seriously guys, you'd think you'd be supportive overall of food choice. You're a stone's throw away from equating those who purchase organic food to anti-vaxers.

  • skr||

    How about pyrethins? Sure they are pretty innocuous but still.

  • hmm||

    Reason doesn't call them pesticides. The world does. Chemical is chemical is chemical and if said chemical kills or mitigates bug damage it's a pesticide.

    Stick trap/barrier is arguable.

  • jasno||

    Yeah, like the poor bastard in San Diego who sells worm castings. He had the audacity to mention that worm castings can strengthen a plants immune system and ward off bugs. The state heard about it and wanted $100k from him to certify his 'pesticide'.

  • jasno||

    Here's the link.

    I think he was supposed to go to trial in June but I haven't heard anything regarding the outcome.

  • Yonemoto||

    i dunno, As a chemist, I have to say there's a huge difference between, say, caffeine and nicotine, versus, say, glyphosate (yes, herbicide, I know)... that carbon-phosphorus bond just irks me... Totally irrational, but still.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    I insist that all my food be dihydrogen monoxide free. A little crunchy, but you get used to it, and a small price to pay for Gaia.

  • ||

    You should buy all your groceries at the NASA gift shop.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Mountain House is cheaper, and I don't have to worry that I'm paying a premium to subsidize Muslim Outreach programs.

  • ||

    Mountain House uses dihydrogen monoxide!!!

  • Brett L||

    But think of all the DHMO manufactured every time they light off the Shuttle's main engine at NASA.

  • ||

    Do you have a point other than "waaa, don't pick on people"?

  • jasno||

    Maybe his point was that KMU is coming off as asinine for using such a poor argument against organic food?

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Not how I read it at all. KMW is not blasting "organic" or "food choice" at all.

    Merely pointing out the bleating that passes for rational discussion among certain subsets, and that "organic" does NOT mean safer.

    Also: Reason does not call Vitamin D3, ammonium carbonate, or boric acid pesticides. The government does.

  • ||

    She's not arguing against organic, oh reading-impaired one; she's pointing out that organic proponents often don't even understand what "organic" means in terms of rules farmers must follow.

    Let me guess: you're an organic proponent and pointing out that organic is not really "organic" chaps your ass. Got it; enjoy your fantasy world.

  • jasno||

    Let me save you from guessing, because you're not doing very well so far. I'm a home fruit and vegetable gardener, as well as a medical marijuana provider. I have a limited understanding of pesticides, but it's something I've worked with as a hobbyist for... 20 years now.

    I generally don't buy organic, but then again, I don't eat many fruits or vegetables that I don't grow. Well, bananas.. I eat a lot of bananas.

    Point taken - KMU wasn't assailing organic food. She did seem to be implying that the chemicals used carry the same risks as the chemicals used as conventional pesticides. I have to assume that she's comparing them to whatever conventional pesticides are currently used right now, because there is a long list of dangerous chemicals formerly used as conventional pesticides which are no longer deemed safe for human consumption.

  • ||

    As with any chemical that humans consume (dihydrogen monoxide included) the dose makes the poison.

    Just because these things have a relatively minimal risk when applied to produce intended for human consumption does not mean that they are safe in quantities beyond the intended dosage. I use boric acid, insecticidal soap, and pyrethrins in my garden on a regular basis. All of them carry a caution label with a wait time for harvesting after applying these things (anywhere from 1-7 days). And the dosage has to be p-r-e-c-i-s-e depending on crop type, square footage of treatment area, and type of pest being eliminated.

    The point is, even "organic" branding carries some exceptions to its supposedly "chemical-free" spectacularity, and people who are unaware or unconvinced otherwise are being a bit delusional about the realities of food production, organic or not. Even hobby gardening my modest few square feet is an enormous effort for me without the help of certain pesticides and fertilizers (yes, I use cow manure, fish heads/skeletons, bone meals, and compost, which is always supposed to be well rotted prior to application in order to prevent E. coli and other pathogens from entering the garden ecosystem). Where do people think their magical organic/biodynamic food comes from?

    And just because it bears repeating: organic = any compound consisting of two or more carbon atoms combined in sequence with each other and/or other elements to produce new molecules of precise and unique configurations. So, really my car runs on organic fuel - petroleum is carbon-based: ORGANIC!

  • jasno||

    Agree with everything except for your definition of organic. That's a fine definition when speaking of chemicals, but not so good when discussing farming. An unfortunate rebranding of the word, but nevertheless it is a word that means two different things depending on context.

  • ||

    @jasno: yes, I recognize the distinction of context. But it's a stupid distinction.

  • skr||

    That distinction has always bothered me as well. Damn you OChem.

  • Robert||

    It's not as if either meaning is really old, and the chemistry definition is more derivative than is the farming one.

  • Spoonman.||

    I honestly didn't get that at all from what she wrote.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    But, by all means, keep paying $4 for that fiddy cent apple. We all know it just has more "essence of apple" than non-organic ones.

  • Jason||

    We all know it just has more "essence of apple" than non-organic ones.

    No, no, no. Organic apples have more "purity of apple essence" than chemically grown apples.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    High five to Epi...

  • B||

    Actually I think the article is a stone's throw away from equating organic food buyers to gullible dickwads who pay a lot extra for what is essentially the same product so they can show us how socially and environmentally conscious they think they are. Yes, there are actually a multitude of assholes who think their shit doesn't stink because their tomatoes were fertilized with cow manure.

    There have been a multitude of studies demonstrating fairly conclusively that there is no nutrional benefit to be derived from eating organic food; the only well-known study suggesting otherwise was financed by the organic food industry. Furthermore, double-blind testing has indicated that regular buyers of organic produce can't tell the fucking difference between a $7 carton of strawberries (or any other organic produce) and one that costs $2. Moreover organic agriculture methods do not result in any environmental benefits; in fact the exact opposite is often true. It takes much more land to grow a fraction of the food.

  • Fluffy||

    I guarantee you that I can tell the difference between a green zebra tomato grown organically in my garden and picked 5 minutes ago and a California beefsteak tomato picked two weeks ago and shipped across country.

  • skr||

    Bringing up tomatoes isn't fair and you know it. It is impossible to compare a home grown tomato picked at the peak of ripeness and a chemically ripened (even if heirloom) piece of wet cardboard.

  • ||

    As are ammonium carbonate and boric acid - which have no contact with food?,

    But those pesticides do get into the environment just like the pesticides that non-organic producers use.

    I can't imagine how terrible ammonium carbonate is for fish in streams and rivers or when it seeps into the soil and hits the water table and contaminates drinking wells. Plus when it accumulates in the gulf it creates vast expanses of oxygen deprived dead zones.

  • Warty||

    Is that a tomato hornworm? I fucking hate those things, but I love when they're covered with wasp pupae that eat them from the inside.

  • Virginia||

    Would that be a parasitoid wasp? Things of beauty, indeed.

  • Warty||

  • Ted S.||

    You might like the 1971 "documentary" The Hellstrom Chronicle.

    It's not on DVD, but is on Youtube (in 11 parts).

  • Psychic Octopus||

    Excellent film. Everyone watch it. It is really refreshing!

  • hmm||

    I thought tomato worm was all green and tobacco worm had red bits.

  • ||

    I found one (only one, big shock) this weekend while trimming the tomatoes back. Hubby came to see what I found so fascinating and I explained about the wasp larvae sucking it dead from the inside out.

    His response: "Awesome! I love seeing nature take care of it's own problems."

    Really. He said that. He rocks.

  • Virginia||

    I buy exclusively from small producers who don't bother to get the USDA organic sticker. They put up a sign that reads "No pesticides, no herbicides, fuck you USDA" and I'm sold. They target those disabled by Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It's a niche market.

  • Yonemoto||

    not so niche anymore.

    http://www.naturallygrown.org/

  • skr||

    So how is ammonium carbonate and copper sulfate considered "organic" but ammonium sulfate is an evil fertilizer?

  • Ray Pew||

    So how is ammonium carbonate and copper sulfate considered "organic" but ammonium sulfate is an evil fertilizer?

    Technically they're all "inorganic", cept for the carbonate anion.

    The organic crowd would likely argue that they are naturally occuring compounds, as opposed to synthetic compounds like glyphosate.

  • skr||

    The whole, naturally occuring, thing chaffs me a bit as well as the OChem fail. Like naturally occuring compounds can't be dangerous. I want to spray some plutonium on my crops and make tomacco.

  • skr||

    er should have said Uranium

  • Robert||

    Plus, the clearly compromised the "naturally occurring". Soap? Sucrose octanoate?

  • jasno||

    I think the amounts you use are likely an order of magnitude different.

  • skr||

    but even a drop of the fert and poof no longer organic.

  • ||

    For a moment there, I thought the photo was Obama as Shai Hulud.

  • ||

    Are you mad? Obama couldn't pass the gom jabbar, let alone face the spice essence.

  • robc||

    Currently rereading Children of Dune right now.

  • ||

    Why?

    Dune was a great book.

    Every sequel/prequel was Gor-level crap.

  • robc||

    The first four are all good. Dune was a great book. I actually never read 5/6 or the prequels, because I either heard they blew or (in the case of 5 and 6), the universe of 4 was not one I was interested in anymore so I didnt continue on.

  • ||

    I think 5 & 6 are worth reading, robc, but steer clear of the abominations his son has produced.

  • Brett L||

    Is there anything Kevin J. Anderson can't turn to shit?

  • ||

    I disagree completely. The first book was truly great, but I think the other books were good, too. Just different.

    By "other books", of course, I mean other Dune books written by Frank Herbert.

  • ||

    I also liked the books written by the Father, but damn he was a Lefty.

    The whole premise of the series is how the good, noble and wise Atreides lead the collective human race to survive eternity. They, through Leto, even sacrifice about as much as can be imagined. But they never justify the death of innocents other than the joyous continuation of the human race. They willing sacrifice other human's lives for their ideal. Loved the series, hated this basic premise.

  • ||

    I've read some of Herbert's comments on the books, and I think he was trying to highlight both the tendency of humans to seek out authoritarian leaders and the inability even for good guys to safely take on those roles. Control is virtually impossible for Paul, for instance, despite his enormous powers.

  • ||

    I know, but it just recently occurred to me how much the "Golden Path" was similar to other Visions of the Anointed. The only difference being that Leto and Paul could actually see the future and it's results. It still amounts to leading the road to Utopia with an iron fist.

    If you haven't read Whipping Star and Dosadi Effect I highly recommend them.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Where's Organic Girl when you need her? I'm horny, and could use a good grudge fuck.

  • ||

    Oh, she will show up. She wouldn't miss a thread like this. (I think she is on the West Coast as her appearances tend to be later in the day.)

  • Fluffy||

    I get on Bailey's case when he goes all anti-organic, but I'm with Mangu-Ward here.

    The popular press is falsely conflating a preference for organic food with the rather demented "food safety" hysteria going on out there.

    Organic food is not less likely to have e coli contamination. It's more likely to have e coli contamination.

    In fact, the bad thing about the current e coli hysteria is that the measures our statist regime is likely to put in place in the false and hubristic belief that they can totally eliminate food-borne pathogens will likely devastate organic farmers and small farmers nationwide. It's easier to satisfy the proposed guidelines out there for "food safety" if you operate a massively-scaled monoculture production agrifacility. If you run a farm, that is, if you grow many different crops on a medium-sized plot while keeping animals and allowing your property to abut woodland, you will find it virtually impossible to satisfy the e coli phobics out there among the population or in government.

  • GILMORE||

    ""Organic food is not less likely to have e coli contamination. It's more likely to have e coli contamination.""

    Generally correct.

    Bacterial or parasitic infestation is more likely in 'organic' crops (depending on what they are, of course) - and so is post-harvest spoilage or contamination. But much 'organic' will tend to be processed in smaller batches, and less likely to result in a massive, widespread contamination issue.

    The line in the NYT piece that bothers me is the "feel" line... e.g. "most people can’t help but feel that food grown and raised on a small farm is a lower risk."

    Can't help it, ay? The poor souls. Not like the media is doing anything to pop that bubble, now, are they? The NYT is admitting, "most people are deluded - but you know, in a good way!"... implicitly apologizing for a widespread myth of organic purity.

    Another thing about organic production - it tends to fly under much of the regulatory structure, due largely to its fragmentation. This does not necessarily mean they don't comply! Most of course do, and many exceed the basic requirements. Just that the USDA does not have the resources to be enforcing policy on every little producer in the country. More than that - they don't really police it at all. So the variance of compliance in what is called, "organic" is far more diverse than in what we call modern agriculture.

    Large, "monofarms" are easier to police, and tend to care more about strict compliance, with more capital invested and thus more to lose. There have been one or two notable cases of certified organic producers who were completely vermin-infested, processing their foods in conditions that no 'non organic' producer would ever tolerate.

    Part of the problem is a paradox: there are strict requirements for food safety, but the truth is that ensuring safe food is significantly harder without modern technology. For instance: Irradiation of foods was originally perfectly OK under the proposed Organic standards, and most producers thought it was a good idea... however, because consumers are (@*#$ irrational, it was eventually written out, along with use of any kind of biotech seeds. Things that make food safer were considered too *corporatey* and unnatural.

    Other examples are contradictions in the law: antibiotics are forbidden in organic livestock as a growth stimulant (yay!)...but are perfectly ok *to prevent infections*. End result? Not much difference in reality.

    Couple years back farmers in California (largest organic producer in the country) found that the majority of their 'organic' fertilizer wasn't really so organic after all. Only reason it was caught was because of someone inside the company blowing the whistle... not because of any regulators policing the industry.

    http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=36008

    Anyone interested in the nexus between government and organic food production, we have this bountiful website: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop

    Oh, in regards to "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS standards) comment below... all those nasty 'artificial', chemically pesticides and fertilizers are *also* GRAS compliant, FWIW. The point of the piece is that there is a myth of 'pesticide free' in the industry. It's not - its just different stuff. Not healthier, not *better*, just different stuff.

    Finally - in many studies of organic vs. non-organic produce, tests for pesticide residue on foods found that trace elements were virtually non-existant in *both cases*. Meaning, from a 'chemical' point of view, they were indistinguishable from one another. Just worth noting that basically ALL foods are "pesticide-free" by the time they get to the supermarket or farmer's market. The idea that pesticides are getting to you through your food is itself a myth.*

    *caveat: it mostly gets to you through groundwater contamination. :) But it should be noted that contamination by artificial vs. natural pesticides is largely moot. Either is undesirable. Which is why low-till farming with GMO's is actually more 'natural' and safe and environmentally friendly! But tell that to the paranoid hippy food nazis.

  • jasno||

    pesticides and fertilizers are *also* GRAS compliant

    [Citation needed]

    Most chemical fertilizers are probably GRAS, but inorganic pesticides? That's laughable.

  • GILMORE||

    No, what I meant was that all the stuff typically used in 'modern agriculture', stuff used in our modern food supply, is not any more dangerous to human health than the organic stuff. Either one leeching into the water supply is bad news, but as far as food production goes, are not particularly controversial.

  • Yonemoto||

    "Which is why low-till farming with GMO's is actually more 'natural' and safe and environmentally friendly! But tell that to the paranoid hippy food nazis."

    Heh, until peak oil kills our ability to use glyphosate. I'm predicting a dust bowl in 2016-2020 timeframe after oil prices go up and make no-till economically unviable, and people go back to "stupid farming", loosening the topsoil.

  • jasno||

    As much as I agree with the e.coli claims, I have to take issue with what KMU is implying by listing the allowed chemicals. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe everything on that list is either generally recognized as safe, or isn't something that actually comes into contact with the part you eat.

    Let's not use the goofy lefty-logic of 'chemical sounding things are bad'. Sure, showing that list to a lefty might be entertaining as they froth and foam in fear, but implying those chemicals are anywhere near as dangerous as some of the shit they sprayed on crops over the last 20 years is just wrong.

  • Brett L||

    Maybe the point is that ammonium nitrate is no less safe nor less organic -- if organic is anything but a marketing label.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Oh, Ammonium Nitrate is definitely less safe

  • Ray Pew||

    Let's not use the goofy lefty-logic of 'chemical sounding things are bad'. Sure, showing that list to a lefty might be entertaining as they froth and foam in fear, but implying those chemicals are anywhere near as dangerous as some of the shit they sprayed on crops over the last 20 years is just wrong.

    You've implied that the common pesticides are MORE dangerous, yet you haven't presented any evidence.

  • jasno||

    Haha, yeah fucktard, because everyone knows that we've never banned pesticides after finding out the ill-effects. I'll throw you a bone - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbofuran. Since you appear not to know how to use google, here's a list you can follow up on: http://www.scorecard.org/chemi.....ame=brpest

  • SIV||

    In Kenya farmers are using carbofuran to kill lions and other predators

    Sounds like some good shit.

  • Ray Pew||

    Haha, yeah fucktard, because everyone knows that we've never banned pesticides after finding out the ill-effects. I'll throw you a bone - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbofuran. Since you appear not to know how to use google, here's a list you can follow up on: http://www.scorecard.org/chemi.....ame=brpest

    Where did I ever make the claim that no pesticide has ever been banned? Showing me that various pesticides have been banned doesn't show me anything in regards to their toxicological profile in comparison to the list of "organic" pesticides. Nicotine sulfate is allowed as an "organic" pesticide and it is highly toxic.

  • jasno||

    Nicotine sulfate is allowed as an "organic" pesticide and it is highly toxic.

    No it isn't. Check your facts.
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/.....05.603.pdf

  • Ray Pew||

    No it isn't. Check your facts.
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/.....05.603.pdf

    From a quick Google, it seems that the regs you presented are not well acknowledged to many in the organic community, as several pages list nicotine sulfate and tobacco "tea" as organic pesticides.

  • Abdul||

    Does "Organic" still mean that it costs twice as much as the other shit?

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    You're off by about a factor of 4-6.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Absolutely.

    Just last week I was buying some provisions for a weekend boating trip, and I grabbed a big jug of water to take along. It was something like $4.00 for 2 gallons.

    A few aisled over I find a nearly identical 2-gallon jug of water, but with a different brand label, for something like $2.59.

    I had not noticed that I had grabbed the first one from the "organic" and "natural" foods aisle.

    Organic water? It was nearly double the price of the plain ol' water.

    Next time I'll just find a jug I can close and fill it from my kitchen tap.

  • skr||

    you're fucking kidding me.

  • highnumber||

    This may not be directly related to this particular story, but it is timely:

    Organic Strawberries Beat Conventionally Grown In Test Plots

  • GILMORE||

    FYI

    There have been dozens of similar studies, and the summary of all of them as far as whether 'organic' is universally superior is.... mostly inconclusive.

    see this (a little old, but comprehensive)

    http://www.misa.umn.edu/vd/bourn.pdf

    For *some foods*, organic is clearly superior. No one debates that, really. The question is whether the process is superior across the entire spectrum of produce, dairy, meats, grains, etc. In some cases it is, in many others, it is in fact inferior.

    [One reason is, in say, berries or tomatoes, where the product is mostly *water and cellulose*, the product often does end up significantly better. Taste better too! I am a fan of organic tomatoes, and so are most chefs I know. In other products - say, grains - it makes no difference. or its inferior. Check that report... they have a few comparison tables that are interesting]

    In ALL cases - which the 'scientific' study of course omits completely - Organic costs more, requires more labor, requires more carbon output, etc. So most benefits - like a 10% increase in vitamin C? - are offset by other significant issues. Everything is a trade off. When all factors are considered (and they rarely are), organic tends to look worse and worse as a model for food production. It's a nice option! But not any magic bullet.

    Also, BTW - most of these comparative studies done on a small 'side by side' scale when they start comparing to dozens of other samples of other products. Like, for instance, if you took strawberries from 25 different non-organic producers around the country, and compared to the single 'organic' sample... is it higher than *all* of them? Is the shelf like higher than *all* of them? Whenever they do this they discover the variance among the non-organic sample ends up blowing the statistical significance of the organic 'improvement' out of the water. Meaning, there will be some strawberries 10% higher in vitamin C than the organic... and some 20% less. Etc etc. Every time they've done these piecemeal studies, they are eventually shown to be less and less exciting than the actual variance that exists in normal agriculture.

  • GILMORE||

    p.s. I did note they compared "13" samples... but with no clarity on the diversity within each sample.

    Secondly, no discussion of actual *yield* of one versus the other. An important point, if you sell strawberries.

  • Yonemoto||

    "Organic costs more, requires more labor"

    Sounds like we need a stimulas.

  • ||

    Am I wrong in thinking that you might be more likely to get e coli from "organic" veggies, since e coli is not going to be present in chemical fertilizers, but might be present in organic fertilizers?

    Am I also wrong in thinking that pesticide use (or non-use) and e coli have exactly nothing to do with each other?

  • jasno||

    You are correct, sir.

  • ||

    And it sometimes depends on your water source, what lies upstream from you, and how "fresh" your organic fertilizers are.

    Ideally, if you are using cow or horse manure, you are supposed to leave it to rot for a significant period of time (depending on climate and season, anywhere from 3-7 months). Never, ever apply fresh manure to a garden/farm crop. That can lead to contamination from E. coli and other bugs, not to mention that the decomposition process at work in fresh manure produces far too much heat for a plant's root system to withstand.

    That said, I suppose even organic farmers succumb to the demands of market realities now and then, and might find themselves cutting a few corners w/r/t their fertilizers and processes. Not that they deviate from the approved list of chemicals, but they might be tempted to deviate from the allotted rot-timeline of manure.

  • Yonemoto||

    where does e coli contamination come from?

    IIRC, the E coli contamination in the spinach scare several years ago came from a single pig carcass that had wandered off of its factory farm into an irrigation ditch that fed into the spinach fields.

    Sounds like that's less likely to happen in a small-scale-production farm.

  • hmm||

  • Odd Barker||

    Hey, this reminds me of a hit piece Stossel did 10 years ago.

  • ||

    I went through that phase... eating high-priced, shit-covered hippie produce. Then I stopped worrying what other people think of me.

    I'm a big fan of conventionally-grown apples now - veggies too. I can't believe it never occurred to me before that I could reduce the amount of pesticides by washing the damn produce before I eat it. It's nice to make a nice, big fruit salad without having to take out a second mortgage.

  • ||

    For the record, I didn't actually go through such a phase. The above is a restatement of the argument jasno gave yesterday for why he stopped buying craft (or, in his words, "queer") beer. I just find it odd that somebody who's so opinionated about food would have trouble understanding that others might be equally opinionated about beer.

    And also I just wanted to talk about beer again, which I enjoy much more than either conventional OR organic produce.

  • jasno||

    Wow, you went to that effort just for me? I feel so loved!

    By the way, who's so opinionated about food? Did you misinterpret my criticisms of the second half of KMUs post with a fetish for organic produce?

    Sorry, I just want to talk about produce fetishes...

  • Spoonman.||

    My wife and I refuse to buy organic produce. If they only have x product in organic this week, we're not having x. Hate that overpriced crap.

  • B||

    Ah, my favorite, threads about organic produce.

    Individuals that pay extra so they can affirm to other Whole Foods snobs that their shit doesn't stink should be forced to wear a scarlet G, for gullible, around their necks. Organic food is the biggest fucking scam since the Hitler Diaries.

  • ||

    Actually it's the biggest scam since Krugman's reputation for economic competence, that being a much more recent myth than the Hitler Diaries. But yeah the whole organic thing is ridiculous.

    Heirloom breeds are different - the idea that breeding for one thing can screw over other beneficial traits is very sound, as demonstrated in the genetic problems (behavioral and physiological) in pure bred animals. Certain types of organic animal breeding are also good, since they avoid prion exposure and enable taste differences through diet and exercise. But those differences in animal breeding are good despite being organic, not because of. They also have huge labeling problems (free-range isn't, and can lead to huge health dangers as well).

  • skr||

    "heirloom" has also turned into a huge marketing ploy as well. My hybrid tomatoes from Burpee taste better than any heiroom tomato I ever bought in a store. But of course that's not really fair. The culture with which the plant is grown is far more important. A vegetable that is consumed freshly picked and ripe will taste better than one that was harvested days previous regardless of whether it is an heirloom variety or a hybrid. I think the main reason hybrids have gotten such a bad rap is because the only hybrids most people have come in contact with are the ones in the store that where created for shipping not flavor. However, ther is a world of hybrids out there that were created for flavor as well as things like disease resistance. Heirlooms weren't necessarily selected for flavor either but also for the adaptation to the local conditions.

  • ||

    That list ignores that on average 15% of the dry weight of all plants are composed of pesticides.

  • hmm||

    And 80% of all internet statistics are made up on the spot. So does that mean there's an 12% or a 3% chance that the dry weight of all plants are composed of pesticides?

  • Psychic Octopus||

    What about Nicotine? Can organic producers use nicotine? Why not? It's naturally occurring (thank God!)

  • jasno||

    As noted above, no, not anymore.

  • AT||

    Hmmm, tomaccos...

  • SIV||

    OT: I enjoyed this bit of KMW juvenilia

  • honeyb||

    Ummm....there was a lot of talk about dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) and I was just wondering if anyone knows that that term was used as a hoax and it is actually the name for WATER. Please research the terms before using them! (^_^)

  • دردشة||

    thanks

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