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Just a single link today both because I'm lazy and have some birding to do, and the fact that this is the best analysis of the term "organic" as it's commonly used by the Organic is God crowd.

The article perfectly mirrors my views on the subject.

I don’t have any a-priori or ideological issue with any of the specific practices that fall under the “organic” rubric. I do have a problem with the fact that there is an organic rubric. In fact I think the USDA made a mistake in giving into pressure and creating their organic certification. At the time they tried to make it clear that “certified organic” said absolutely nothing about the product itself, only that certain rules and restrictions were followed in production. It was not an endorsement of organic farming, just a way to regulate the use of the term in labeling food. Unfortunately, it further solidified the organic false dichotomy.


 

Comments

What was stupid about that study is that it fails to develop a methodology that identifies a mechanism by which organic could be more nutritious and then tests accordingly.

If you have no concern for the mechanism than its just a correlation study that can't really show evidence for a cause.

Why not just test if bad dreams cause cancer or being named Joe causes heart attacks.

What would the mechanism be?

The need for specific nutrients is quite well documented, and there is a considerable evidence that not getting specific nutrients results in quite specific negative outcomes. I'm sure that in most cases the mechanisms have already been explained.

The study in question compared the nutrients in organic foods with those of conventionally grown and found no significant differences.

Your attempt to dismiss all the knowledge we have about nutrition as just correlation and no better than the absurd examples you offered is . . .

Well, organic is a process and not a product really, so its highly unlikely that not using pesticides alone has any effect on nutrition. But there are probably a few elements that could potentially mean that someone eating organic means higher vitamin intake

  • The varieties of Fruits, vegetables, and animals available as organic could be more varied and some varieties might be more selected for their taste and nutrition rather than productivity.

  • The diet of animals might impact the nutrition of their meat, or eggs

-nutritious soil might mean organic plants have more nutrition than hydroponic grown vegetables.

  • Some process like radiation, ammonia wash, or cooking required in the mass production model might have a negative effect on the the products that undergo it.

Essentually this studies if being labeled as organic might have a positive effect on nutrition. Which is completely impossible. Being organic is about a set of things you don't do, products and processes you don't use, so unless the agribusiness does something to all of its products that reduces the nutrition then there can not be a universal effect. but some differences in some products could still mean a person eating organic could get more nutrition from their food than someone eating similar products produced conventionally.

Being organic is about a set of things you don't do, products and processes you don't use, so unless the agribusiness does something to all of its products that reduces the nutrition then there can not be a universal effect.

That's the money quote. I've been inundated with anti-GMO articles and studies recently - and this really is by happenstance. I want some time to digest these with the articles that are more or less pr0 GMO before I say anything else.

Red could might possibly have a point... potentially.

Occasionally one falls into my lap.

I have never been under the impression that organic food was more nutritious. I just thought it didn't have pesticides. Are some people making the claim that organics are more nutritious?

I have never been part of the "Organic is God crowd," but I recently switched to organic rice in light of revelations from the USDA on high levels of arsenic (not the naturally occurring variety) in most American rice. I always thought that was why people bought organic food -- to avoid toxic chemicals, not to increase their intake of nutrients.

Are some people making the claim, have you been reading what Red has been writing he is at the least implying that organic may be more nutritious. Do a google search you'll find many claims that organic is more nutritious.

As to your claims of toxicity, dose is what matters. What may be toxic at one dose may not be toxic at another in fact it may be beneficial or it may be insignificant one way or the other.

Finally your statement that you switched to organic rice because of your fear of arsenic reveals a lack of understanding about how the arsenic gets in the rice. Here I'll let the FDA explain it to you:

Do organic foods have less arsenic than non-organic foods?

The FDA is unaware of any data that shows a difference in the amount of arsenic found in organic rice vs. non-organic rice. Because arsenic is naturally found in the soil and water, it is absorbed by plants regardless of whether they are grown under conventional or organic farming practices.

Nice cherry-picking. I think you need to do more reading on the topic...or less selective reading.

From Mother Jones (and Nature and Consumer Reports):

But as Nature reported in 2005, US rice carries "1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India and Bangladesh." What gives? Here in the United States, we've added massive amounts of arsenic to the environment over the decades. How much? Here's Consumer Reports:

"The U.S. is the world's leading user of arsenic, and since 1910, about 1.6 million tons have been used for agricultural and industrial purposes, about half of it only since the mid-'60s."

Much of that came in the form of arsenate pesticides, which until they were banned in the 1980s were commonly used on cotton fields—where, according to Consumer Reports, residues of those pesticides linger today. And US cotton and rice price(sic) production have significant overlap in the mid-South region. "Quite a lot of land in Mississippi and Arkansas that previously grew cotton is now used for rice cultivation," Nature reports. And indeed, when rice first began to be grown on former cotton land, the crop did poorly, laid low by "an arsenic-induced disease known as straighthead," Nature reports. Rather than encourage farmers to abandon the project of growing a food crop in arsenic-rich soil, CR adds, USDA "invested in research to breed types of rice that can withstand arsenic."

[end of Mother Jones quotation]

So the federal government isn't exactly a sound go-to source for information on organic rice, is it? Contrary to Novella's assertion, it appears USDA's organic certification was less a cave-in to the "organic is God" crowd and more a guilt-motivated whitewash of its own flagrant enabling shameful farming practices.

In any case, my India-grown organic basmati rice is at least "1.4 to 5 times" safer than conventional American rice. Not sure about my California-grown organic brown rice. But even if that stuff is laced with arsenate residue, at least I'm not contributing to future contamination by buying it.

I'm sure the FDA statement considered U.S. grown rice. Do you have any evidence that organic U.S. rice has less arsenic?

And since as you acknowledge the arsenic hasn't been used since the 1980 you are not adding to the problem of arsenic by consuming conventionally grown U.S. rice.

You state:

In any case, my India-grown organic basmati rice is at least "1.4 to 5 times" safer than conventional American rice.

I assume you mean it has 1.4 to 5 times less arsenic. That doesn't equate to 1.4 to 5 times safer.

RedSeven. I don't see why finding a mechanism is relevant here. The question being asked by the Stanford study was whether or not organic foods are more nutritious, not what might cause them to be so. You don't need to identify a cause in order to determine whether organic foods higher levels of nutrients. You just measure the levels of nutrients in the foods. The Stanford Study was a review of a number of studies that did just this and compared them to measures of nutrients in conventionally produced foods.

If you don't identify a mechanism you can't identify the correct factors to control in the test.

My point is that if you test something with no identifiable mechanism your only potential results are a negative, or proof of the existence of magic.

If you look at the studies around vaccines and autism, there are two types, correlation studies and those that test specific proposed mechanisms. Both types showed no link between autism and vaccines.

There were specific claims about what ingredient in vaccines and how there administering contributed to autism. Here there is no clear claim and no clear test.

The factors to control in the test is where the nutrients come from food produced using organic methods or food conventionally produced.

How the nutrients get in the food is irrelevant.

Your obsession with a mechanism is baffling.

Millions of useful discoveries have and will be made without knowing the mechanism. Take penicillin as an example.

Here lets try this, if you are going to measure something like the amount of water in a glass the mechanism that was used to get the water in the glass is beside the point

Pretty sure Penicillinwas discovered accidentally.

And the fact that it killed bacteria was a simple observation. Correlation/causation without knowing what the hell the mechanism was.

You know that if you tested to see if Penicillin killed all bacteria everywhere the study would show that it does not kill all bacteria everywhere. And if someone wrote an article about that study that declared that Penicillin didn't kill bacteria because of that study we would all be calling them morons.

Instead they tested very specific effects on specific bacteria, using specific ways of administering it. THey figured out to treat human disease they had to inject it into the blood and that it could kill some illness but not all illness.

Stanford Study: I didn't pay for access to the actual study, and must base comments on the comments about it.

With respect to "nutrition", I think it has come to mean things like Vitamin content, fat, protein, fiber, perhaps ratio of Omega3/Omega6 fatty acids, type of carbohydrates, Linoleic acid, other micro-nutrients which may or may not be antioxidants - e.g., stuff that is generally considered to be food, and for which testing methods have been devised. I do not consider Pesticides, Antibiotic and BPA residues to be nutrients within the context of a food discussion.

I think the Stanford Study focused on the wrong question. For food products, whether they be from animal or vegetable, get their nutrient profiles from their genetics as fostered by the food, water,light,soil and treatment with which they are nourished. They don't get them from the label on the box, irrespective of whether or not it says "ORGANIC" or "GMO".

The same Chicken breed, confined indoors and fed corn based feed, will yield eggs with the USDA label nutrients. The same chicken, free ranging outdoors on green pasture will yield eggs with half the cholesterol and 4 times the folates. The difference is diet and lifestyle based. Lower stress, exercise, varied diet, yield lower cholesterol. Got nuthin' to do with Organic. What does have to do with Organic, is that the free range birds don't drop eggs laced with Pesticides and Antibiotics.

So, at least, I am glad that the researchers added Pesticide and Antibiotic residue to their testing.

With respect to Antibiotic residue, food production methods relying on prophylactic use of Antibiotics in animal feed are criminal. They create a public health issue of enormous proportions as antibiotic resistant illness stalks the globe.

With respect to Pesticide residue, It is a really big deal to find such residue in our children who are fed conventional produce.

Any who think the EPA knows there to be "Safe" levels of these Pesticide endocrine system distributors is, to be polite, a fool.

RedSeven "But there are probably a few elements that could potentially mean that someone eating organic means higher vitamin intake."

NORM "The need for specific nutrients is quite well documented"

comment: It's often the case that what we know how to test for is what we think is important. As it happens, often tiny tiny quantities of micro-nutrients we don't even pay any attention to are really what's important. Certainly things like low life stress levels on meat animals is known to make a difference in nutrients, tho this is not specific to Organic farms.

BIGDADDY "I always thought that was why people bought organic food -- to avoid toxic chemicals, not to increase their intake of nutrients."

comment: Pesticide and Herbicide avoidance in our food, our soil and our water is the big reason why I've been an Organic farmer for lo these many years.

NORM "How the nutrients get in the food is irrelevant."

comment: PROCESS IS RELEVANT. See, that's why you've never understood why a growing protocol that reluctantly allows BT to be sprayed on corn under certain specific circumstances is different than a growing protocol that breeds production of the pesticide in all parts of the plant, all the time.

The piece of the Organic Program you've never cottoned to is the part where there is an Organic Systems Plan, that addresses sustainability of production processes, and their compatibility with other natural systems. When you figure out that part, then you will understand that since the Organic farmer is viewing the entire lifecycle of all inputs to their farm, they are forced to consider the toxic waste created by the manufacturing process for petro-based fertilizers and poisons manufacture. (Hence the preference in the NOP for 'natural processes'.

But, to be sure, don't get me started on Homeopathy. the mention of Homeopathy in concert with the term National Organic Program, makes me crazy. In God We Trust.

PROCESS IS RELEVANT. See, that's why you've never understood why a growing protocol that reluctantly allows BT to be sprayed on corn under certain specific circumstances is different than a growing protocol that breeds production of the pesticide in all parts of the plant, all the time.

It's only relevant in your example if the resulting product is different in some significant way. In this case you'd need to demonstrate that harmful to consume a plant where BT is part of the plant. I've yet to see any convincing evidence that this is the case. If that's demonstrated then of course the process is relevant.

As to sustainability, that is not unique to organic. We should be instituting practices that promote sustainability wherever they come from, including GMOs But the organic movement has defined in advance what constitutes sustainable practices and seems unwilling to change even if it's discovered that they are wrong. The recent study, I posted a link to it but can't seem to find it pointing out that in some cases on a per unit basis organic was less sustainable.

Many in the organic movement view their principles as coming straight from a holy book and are close-minded when it comes to anything that conflicts with that book.

Case in point I don't recall any organic zealot to ever acknowledge a place for GMOs even including the modifications made to Papaya to combat a plant virus, and saving an industry.

Lose the term natural and we can finally have a discussion that is meaningful.

I had to laugh at Red's comment.

Being organic is about a set of things you don't do, products and processes you don't use.

I could say the same thing about conventional farming.

Both conventional and organic are about things you do and things you don't do. They're simply different things.

"Many in the organic movement view their principles as coming straight from a holy book and are close-minded when it comes to anything that conflicts with that book"

well sure that's true enough of some, tho perhaps not "many".

Homeopathy is a fair enough case in point. Also the new proposed rule that says I can lock my chickens in for the day if the temperatures drop below 50 degrees, but can't lock them in if the coyote is prancing down the driveway.

Such is what happens to standards when single issue advocacy (Humane Society) folk take control of animal welfare rules.

I shall be delighted when the GMO label proposition passes next month in California. Then I can save myself a thousand bucks and hours and hours worth of paperwork by giving up my Organic Certification.

You are quite right that what matters to me is sustainability - that is, growing food in a fashion that keeps the soil, water and wildlife happy such that food can continue to be grown here forever. Oh, and growing food and livestock without recourse to poison herbicide and pesticide which I think we have treated with all together too much complacency, and raising my meat animals in a caring fashion that keeps them happy, low stress and healthy.

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