# Organic Food is Healthier: Bullshit.

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by BenTheMan, Jul 30, 2009.

1. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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So, is organic food actually any better for you?

According to food scientists in London: no. (Shocking, I know.)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124889070523990861.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE56S3ZJ20090729

Obviously the people who BUY organic food are not too concerned with these findings. (There was a thread a few days ago by a new member. It had something to do with people being hostile to science when it challenged their own opinions...) Of course, BBC had a woman who owned an organic grocery food store (who was not a scientist) claiming that the study was wrong.

I want to know your opinions.

Do you buy ALL organic food, or just some organic food?
Do you feel any better buying organic food?
Do you think it's possible for all of us to eat organic food?

In the interest of full disclosure, I do like organic milk more than regular milk, and the organic chicken breasts that my girlfriend's mom buys are pretty good. But outside those things, I don't really notice any differences in taste or texture between the foods.

2. ### S.A.M.uniquely dreadfulValued Senior Member

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I buy all free range and farm produce. I don't know if it qualifies as organic but it tastes way better than the cardboard in the stores. I'd be very interested in how the trend towards organic produce affects the finances of food scientists, whose major occupation is coming up with more sensory specific processed food. In fact, you'd be quite interested to see how deeply they study flavour addiction.

3. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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Probably not. Everywhere there's money to be made, there's someone studying how to make more money.

And I think flavor doesn't have a u in it

4. ### S.A.M.uniquely dreadfulValued Senior Member

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Ok FYI in India free range is called desi [indigenous] and broiler is called angrezi [English].

As in desi chicken, desi eggs, etc/

5. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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That seems like a subtle bit of propaganda.

6. ### S.A.M.uniquely dreadfulValued Senior Member

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Its not intentional, I think, desi is generic for local, angrezi for western.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desi#Food

But the distinction is less clear cut in India, since many farmers sell their own produce, so identifying what method of farming they use etc, is quite a challenge.

Generally you can only tell by purchasing and eating the produce how good the quality is.

Luckily we can identify most vegetables and fruits by where they are grown, so any change in taste, smell and texture is very dramatic.

7. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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Yeah, but are you importing your non-free range chicken from England, or are there chicken ranchers in India who don't raise free range chickens?

8. ### S.A.M.uniquely dreadfulValued Senior Member

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The desi chickens are native breeds, the broilers are those white Leghorn bred for meat chickens you see in most of those chicken farms.

desi chcikens are usually like this:

The meat is tougher, takes longer to cook and is generally stringier, with hard bones.
But its much much tastier.

The broiler chicken is like this:

Its got soft white meat, easy to cook but generally tasteless

9. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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Ahh I see. So it's an indication of the breed.

I agree that the chicken that you buy in the grocery store is generally much less tasty than wild animals that you may have to kill yourself. I much prefer wild quail or dove breasts than chicken, but you can't really buy them in a store.

If you're still in America, you might try Cornish Game Hens---they're the little chickens that they sell in the grocery store. They have a lot of bones, but they are very tasty.

10. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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Well, you CAN buy quail, but it's typically pretty expensive.

11. ### S.A.M.uniquely dreadfulValued Senior Member

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I had [frozen] game hens in Saudi Arabia. And quail. They have bones like glass!

12. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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Well, whenever I eat quail I have to watch out for the shotgun pellets

13. ### ElectricFetusI'm just going for a walk...Valued Senior Member

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As a Biochemist I don't care much for the anti-pesticide, anti-GM arguments, but organic locally grown produce is more energy efficient requiring less transport, and usually made with less fertilizers and less energy intensive techniques. Ideally if we could engineer perennial as food crops it would mean a dramatic reduction in water and fertilizer use and no plowing! As for meat, I eat meat rarely.

14. ### NasorValued Senior Member

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First off, this study was only looking at nutritional content. It wasn't trying to determine whether or not organic food is "healthier," merely whether or not you'll get better vitamin content etc. from organic food. One of the major reasons why some people consider organic food to be healthier is that it is pesticide-free, which is not something that this study addresses.

Second, contrary to what many news agencies are inaccurately reporting, this study did not find that there was no nutritional difference. It concluded that there wasn't sufficient evidence one way or the other. It can basically be summed up as "Some people claim that organic food has more nutrients than non-organic food, but in fact there isn't enough research to support that claim." Personally I would be pretty surprised if organic food was more nutritious (why would it be? it's all the same plants), but that doesn't change the fact that this study does not make such a claim.

Here's a clue for you: never believe any mainstream news source about what a scientific study says, because reporters are absolute shit at reporting on the results of scientific studies. Look up the actual study and read it yourself if you're interested. At best, mainstream news articles can be useful for alerting you to the fact that a potentially interesting article has been published on a particular topic.

But of course now we can look forward to years and years of people trying to use these news stories as "proof" that organic food isn't healthier, when in fact they're only proof that reporters don't bother to actually read studies before they write articles about them.

Last edited: Jul 30, 2009
15. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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From the Reuter's article:

I don't know what many news agencies'' are reporting, but the language in the Reuter's article is pretty clear.

Thank you for the advice. I listened to the scientist talking this morning on the BBC, and I think he can speak for himself...which I THOUGHT I made clear in the original post.

So now we're arguing about semantics. What does healthier'' mean? If you had a diet high in most vitamins and minerals that people are generally regarded to need to live, and I had a diet lower in those chemicals, would you be healthier'' than me?

In an effort to see what you're talking about, I did a bit of research (don't tell my boss I'm not doing physics) about pesticides in food.

First, do organic foods have any less pesticides in them than commercially produced foods? Let's do a quick google search:

http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/organic.html

Emphasis mine. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides. The caveat most'' really kills the pesticide argument. That, and actual tests about levels of pesticides in organic foods:

Clearly, this research shows that organic food is definitely NOT pesticide free (as you claimed).

Ok ok ok I know what you're saying. Those bloody Americans can't do anything right.

So 1% of organic food not only CONTAINS pesticides, but the levels exceed the government mandated maximum in Europe. (Note that this article is dated July 10, 2009.)

We've (I've) established that organic foods (broadly defined) are not pesticide free, en masse. Now, how terrible are these pesticides? Let's take one: chlorpyrifos. (I actually had a bit of trouble finding the name of even one common agricultural pesticide.) Nevertheless, the toxicology report is here. Looks like pretty bad stuff. I will note that:

So if you do happen to have a bit of it, it gets out of your system pretty quickly. After a week, you're left with something like 0.8% of what you started with.

Ok, so how much chlorpyrifos actually exists in the food that you eat? The USDA sets a limit of around 0.05 mg/kg of chlorpyrifos, depending on the food ([source]). (I used corn.)

Then we can check: what is the LD-50 for ingesting this drug? That is, suppose we give 100 rats a dose of this drug. At what dose do 50% of them die? A dose of 100 mg per kg of body weight is lethal, according to the toxicology report above.

Next, are there any chances that this is a carcinogen? Again:

So after feeding rats 45 times the current legal limit of chlorpyrifos for two years straight, they had no higher rates of cancer than other control rats.

Anyway, you will (of course) make your own conclusions from this, or wave your hands and change the subject. I will grant that pesticides do pose a health risk. That's why their use is regulated, and monitored. And that's why you wash the food that you get from the store, as most of these pesticides are water soluble.

If you feel better buying your tomatoes from a farmer rather than a grocer, great. If you think that bringing locally grown produce to market requires less resources, great. But, in the example above, there aren't any indications that organic produce is any healthier, or less harmful to your health than produce grown on a big, ugly, evil commercial farm.

Just as you have to deal with naughty bugaboos like myself trying to convince people that the claim organic food is better for you'' is bullshit, I'll have to deal with goofy liberals (ostensibly they're liberals) as yourself blatantly ignoring the science.

Evolution's just a theory, right?

16. ### Jozen-BoThe Wheel Spinning King!!!Registered Senior Member

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Yes I do buy organic foods. A great deal of the food items in Germany's normal grocery stores are already organic.

I buy just some organic foods. The stuff that tastes good and satisfies my appetite.

After eating organic rice I do. Also, I can taste a difference in organic veggies and fruits...more flavor. The difference between organic grain and non is the biggest I'd say...regarding the flavor. Also, organic grain gives me huge energy boosts that inorganic grain doesn't. I haven't noticed much difference regarding meats, candies, or dairy products.

As to your last question...No...it is impossible.

I do not buy foods because they are organic, I buy them for the taste and the satisfaction that comes with providing my body with nutrients. If the food item happens to be organic, I buy and eat it. If not, I buy it and eat it anyways. Many times I do not buy organic veggies, because they are too damn expensive...even if they do taste better. Living to be 1000 years old is not my main concern in life, though feeling healthy in the moments that I do live is a major concern.

17. ### spidergoatnameless monsterValued Senior Member

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Organic food is better for you. It may not be 100% pesticide free, but it contains much less than factory farmed food. It may not contain more nutrition, but the practice of organic farming is better for the environment, which translates into being better for you and me. It's sustainable, and when you buy organic food, you subsidize the kind of farming that will inevitably replace the petroleum-based methods used now.

18. ### BenTheManDr. of Physics, Prof. of LoveValued Senior Member

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I think there are several things wrong with what you've said.

1.) Organic food is better for you. It may not be 100% pesticide free, but it contains much less than factory farmed food.''

I don't know what the basis for this claim is. And I don't know what less'' means. The current limits are already set FAR below the toxicities of the various chemical pesticides, so it's not clear that less'' means better''. Do you have a counter-example to this?

2.) It may not contain more nutrition, but the practice of organic farming is better for the environment, which translates into being better for you and me.''

This is pretty dubious reasoning. Consider the following statement: Normally, I cut the fat off of my steak and discard the waste. However, it has come to my attention that this contributes to solid waste which is dumped in a landfill, which is bad for the environment. It's better for the environment if I eat the fat. Thus, because there is a net benefit to the environment (not all of the fat from the steak is passed to my waste), this translates into being better for me.''

Further, how do you quantify better for the planet''?

3.)  It's sustainable, and when you buy organic food, you subsidize the kind of farming that will inevitably replace the petroleum-based methods used now.''

Sustainable for who? Can we feed 6 billion people with organically farmed produce? I don't know the answer, maybe there's a study you can point to, or something?

19. ### ElectricFetusI'm just going for a walk...Valued Senior Member

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I don't buy the taste argument either, taste is very subjective and if you think your buying a better quaility food product of course your going to think it taste better and convince your self it does.

I would prefer locally grown over so called organic foods, as some organic food are shipped from afar and are thus have more detrimental energy usage. Organic foods is in my opinion a marketing slogan meant more to cash in on stupid yuppies than to designate a product that better for you health and the environment.

As for the pesticides used in organic foods, some of them are very notorious, for example Rotenone which has been link to Parkinson's disease, but because it is extracted from certain plant's roots its not one of those "chemicals" and thus was used for decades in licensed approved organic farming, feeding on the stupidity and fallacious logic of people that feared "unnatural" things like many pesticide and not "natural" things like this pesticide, which turned out of course to be harmful to humans.

Also I pop a vain every time I hear people cuu in fear over irradiated food, irradiated food is probably healthier for you than the food poisoning ridden normal meats. If clams were irradiated I would eat them.

20. ### Mrs.LucysnowValued Senior Member

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Quackwatch claims that organic food isn't tastier?:bugeye: That would be a matter of personal predilection would it not? I find organic food, fruits especially apples specifically, much tastier than non-organic. As for genetically modified foods I avoid them, I refuse to put money in the pocket of a company like Monsanto that would put a drug like rBGH in cows to up milk production when it was clearly unhealthy for human consumption not to mention unhealthy for the cows. Canada and Europe banned the product save the U.S who's FDA and EPA allowed for Monsanto to use the product without pre-market safety tests. They also attempted to use their lawyers to quell the story once Fox attempted to publicize a story of the drug; the journalists refused to allow Monsanto to edit their story and censor the story. Read it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/monsanto-forced-fox-tv-to_b_186428.html

Do you blame organic growers for not believing the outcome of the research? Its no longer being paranoid to think Monsanto can pay for research where results are in their favor. They also have waged a war against genetic diversity in India trying to force farmers to use their seeds where seeds cannot be harvested. Litigation against farmers forcing them to pay a technology fee because of cross-contamination no matter how it has taken place, suing them for saving seeds etc. the list goes on with them. Should I include that these are the guys who came up with Agent Orange? Why bother. It doesn't matter if the nutrients in organic foods are the same or if they are not 100% pesticide free or not. I don't care, I feel better supporting local farmers who use organic or traditional means of growing their food and not Monsanto (its a bully corporation, and they are unscrupulous evil fuckers!).

For me its not simply a matter of health its a matter of politics.

Last edited: Jul 30, 2009