What is in this article?:
- Stanford organic farming study sparks giant squabble
- Stanford backbone
- Elitist ideology
- Stanford organic farming study has sparked a movement to have its findings rescinded.
- The study simply pointed out that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than traditionally grown crops.
The article, in other words, wasn’t about the entirety of everything that people think is wrong about the way our food is grown and produced today. It simply pointed out that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than traditionally grown crops, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were organic foods any less likely to be tainted by dangerous bacteria such as E. coli.
Although the authors of the study, headed by Dr. Dena Bravata of Stanford’s Center for Health Policy, are not commenting on the controversy, university officials had this to say: “This paper was published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal, and the researchers received no funding for the study from any outside company. We stand by the work and the study authors.” Bravo for Stanford for having the backbone to go to bat for its team! And, the university added, “Stanford Center for Health Policy (where the study was conducted) has never received research money from Cargill.” So there.
Out of the many news stories I’ve read on the Stanford study, I was entertained by one written by Roger Cohen of the New York Times, who appeared quite giddy about the findings of the report in his article headlined “The Organic Fable.” I share with you some of his thoughts.
“Organic has long since become an ideology, the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism, to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century and whose poor will get a lot more nutrients from the two regular carrots they can buy for the price of one organic carrot.
Cohen did have some nice things to say about the organic phenomenon. First, he says that it reflects a growing awareness about diet that has spurred a quality, small-scale local farming boost that was disappearing; secondly, organic farming is probably better for the environment because less soil, flora and fauna are contaminated by chemicals (although of course, without fertilizers, you have to use more land to grow the same amount of produce or feed the same amount of livestock); thirdly, in the U.S., organic food must meet standards ensuring the genetic engineering, synthetic fertilizers, sewage and irradiation were not used in the food’s production.