Friday, September 7, 2012

Responses to the Stanford Study

I debated whether or not to write again about this topic since there has been so much press about it already, but as I continued to receive well written responses and the Executive Director started to get quoted on the subject, I decided that it was worth a followup, if for no other reason than because it will allow you to access important articles all in one place.  The first article in the following list - in which Bill Duesing is quoted extensively - sums up the organic community's reaction pretty well in its title.  It's annoying, and frustrating, when a narrow filter is applied to a holistic model of agriculture and then it's sensationalized in the press.  It's also annoying when the majority of the argument refutes a claim that most organic proponents never made in the first place.  But because those claims of organics' nutritional advantage were never the keystone of the organic model, the study and related negative press really isn't that intimidating.  Fortunately, media exposure is often a two way street, so there are a lot of well-rounded interpretations of the study out there.

Organic Reaction: Farmers Annoyed, Not Threatened By Stanford Study - Hartford Courant
The reaction among consumers seems muted or nonexistent, several organic farmers and advocates told me this week. They are perturbed but not alarmed. Perturbed because the Stanford report looked at health effects far too narrowly, and, anyway, missed the whole point of the organic movement — it’s not about better nutrition, it’s about a healthier planet and a sustainable food system.  More>

A Few Things to Remind People Quoting That Organic Food Study -
Whoa, slow down, internet and television news! Man, one document says organic food might not be worth the dollar and you'd think an organic vegetable had held up a bank.  More>

Organic Food vs. Conventional: What the Stanford Study Missed - Huffington Post

While the scientists analyzed vitamins and minerals, food isn't simply a delivery device for these things alone. We are quickly learning in this industrialized food era that our food can be full of a lot of other things. It has become a delivery device for artificial colors, additives, preservatives, added growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, insecticides and so much more.  More>

5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short - Mother Jones
the study in some places makes a strong case for organic—though you'd barely know it from the language the authors use. And in places where it finds organic wanting, key information gets left out. More>

The Case for Organic Food - LA Times

So a new study from Stanford University shows that organic produce probably isn't any more nutritious than the conventional variety. We doubt the folks at Whole Foods are trembling in their Birkenstocks. We're not aware of too many people who thought otherwise — it doesn't make a lot of sense to assume the application of pesticides would have much impact on a fruit's vitamin content. But that doesn't mean it isn't safer to eat.  More>

The main point here is that there's a lot more to the organic model than whether or not it's more nutritious than the conventional model, and to really determine the specific health effects of eating organic versus conventional, we need more scientific study.  Study takes time, however, and in light of the other detrimental effects of large scale conventional farming, like pesticide and fertilizer overloads and mistreatment of workers, animals, and the environment, I personally choose to buy organic in the meantime.

Have a great weekend!

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