The Hard Truth About Organic Food
Everyone loves organic food. Or rather, everyone who can actually afford organic food loves it. In order to push for a healthier America, contrary to what many proponents of the locavore/organic movement claim, it actually makes less sense to feed the country’s population on a diet of solely organic or locally grown food.
For example, Big-Agra’s huge fields are capable of producing tons of fresh produce every season. The notion that they are inferior models to small farms that eventually hurt consumers is a logical fallacy. Although no one debates the inherent risks in the overuse of pesticide; harmful chemical runoff or the monopolization of seed patents, large-scale agriculture works due to economies of scale.
This theory dictates the more a given good is produced, the cheaper it will be. This is why safety pins are made in factories and sold by the dozens for $1.99 — rather than being made by hand for $4 each.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is some people dogmatically purport that in order to be healthy individuals, we should only eat organic — which is in an elitist proclamation.
The same concept applies to industrial scale agriculture vs. organic farms. On average, conventional farms are about 386 acres, while organic farms are 27 acres. The extra 359 acres of farmland allows conventional producers to sell a one pound box of strawberries for $3.99, as opposed to half a pound for $6.99. (Strawberries were chosen merely because they are inherently expensive).
Price is also affected by the fact that conventional farmers lose a much smaller proportion of their crop due to pests than organic farmers (since conventional pest control seeks to eliminate while organic pest control seeks to manage). Here, the larger quantity of produce (supply) necessitates that food vendors use non-organic methods to feed a large number of customers (demand). Therefore, in order to stay in business, Whole Foods and Bi-Rite have to charge a higher amount for a largely unchanged product.
GMOs, which are often cited as “hazardous to our health,” have never been proven to be truly dangerous — since virtually all related studies were either paid for by those against GMOs or didn’t follow the scientific method. Any potential follow-up studies are impossible to support or expand upon by other researchers.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is some people dogmatically purport that in order to be healthy individuals, we should only eat organic — which is in an elitist proclamation. The same people who cite the movie “Food Inc.” as evidence forget that most food subsidies for the poor go towards corn-based food products (the cheapest of which are foods containing corn syrup). Many of these people ignore the fact that Congress doesn’t want to lose lobbyist dollars and support subsidies for healthy produce. These individuals have lost sight of the point of eating whole foods: to be healthy. And as long as the “only” way to do so is by eating only organic, that won’t happen.
Andrew Menzer is a sophomore business major.