Paying through the nose, for no nutritional payoff
The Kansas City Star
A group of Stanford scientists sorted through 237 studies published over four decades on organic farming and guess what? Paying premium prices for organic food doesn’t get you any added nutritional benefit. And the risk of contamination from dangerous germs like E. coli isn’t any less from organic fruit and vegetables.
None of this will persuade organic food buyers. Food isn’t food anymore. It’s a political statement, a statement about how one sees oneself. People want to know their bean sprouts have been cultivated with a loving hand. The coffee must be “fair trade” coffee. They want to make sure their chicken was massaged and deeply loved and had the run of the barnyard before it was killed and torn into pieces. Today’s foodies must feel good about their food, and about themselves.
The Stanford study did offer some ammo for organic food eaters. Conventional fruit and vegetables may be no more risky than organic when it comes to E. coli and the like, but organic chicken and pork is less likely to harbor the really bad bugs (which are killed during cooking anyway). And organic produce likely has lower pesticide residue than conventional produce.
If people want to spend more on this stuff, more power to them. Three cheers for a market that serves up the choices. What worries me is that the food nannies will start pushing to eliminate the regular stuff for those of us who understand that pesticide residues on conventional produce are already below government safety limits. Michael Bloomberg’s war on transfats and the like is a harbinger.
As I get older, I do pay more attention to what I eat. Sure, pass the brocoli. But the additional increment of perceived safety from organic is priced at what to me seem ridiculous levels. Yesterday I noticed the red grapes in the store were more than twice the price of the regular grapes.
Those organic grapes will be there as long as people keep buying them, but let’s also recognize there’s an indirect link between price and health. If everybody’s produce bill doubled, we’d eat a lot fewer fruit and vegetables and be less healthy. Seek the best value and eat more, say I.