On a worldwide scale, the organic food industry is a 52 billion dollar per year business. When you consider that organic products can cost three times as much as their conventional counterparts, this comes as no surprise. Most people buy organic under the assumption that it’s better for their bodies and the environment. However, the truth of this statement is debatable at best. Here are some of the reasons why organic food may not be as great as it’s been made out to be.
When people buy organic, they do so because they believe that they’re avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals, but nothing is further from the truth. Organic growers are still allowed to use pesticides as long as they’re natural in origin. However, a product’s status as natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe. One example of this is rotenone, a pesticide commonly used in organic farming. Rotenone works by destroying mitochondrial cells, which act as the body’s power plants. It is also deadly to fish and has been implicated as a cause of Parkinson’s disease.
As if that wasn’t alarming enough, you can’t even be certain that your organic produce is free of man-made pesticides. These aren’t used directly on the food itself. However, studies have shown that many certified organic fruits and vegetables test positive for traces of these substances, some so high that they exceeded the federal guidelines for what can legally be considered organic.
Another common misconception is that organic food is more sustainable than conventionally farmed food. In reality, it is far less sustainable. Yields are lower, by about 34 percent, due to destruction by pests. Furthermore, it requires significantly more land for organic farming to equal the same output as conventional methods. That means more wetlands, forests, and prairies will have to be destroyed in order to facilitate the growing appetite for organic food.
Some people argue that, if nothing else, organic food is more nutritious than conventional. Unfortunately, this is also a myth. Hundreds of studies comparing organic and conventional foods showed that there was no difference in the amounts of vitamins and minerals. This also holds true for organically produced meat, dairy, and eggs. On top of that, it has also been found that organic foods are higher in trans fats than conventional ones.
Organic food remains a huge market throughout the industrialized world. Unfortunately, our confidence in it is largely misplaced. The next time you’re grocery shopping, save your hard-earned money and stick to conventional products.