Is Organic Always Good?
We all know Gansie is a huge proponent of farmer’s market/local produce, and that the nation’s First Lady has recently been a prominent supporter of vegetable garden fun. A lot of my friends belong to this CSA or that CSA. And everyone I know seems to be buying or farming organic these days. Organic is one of those words that often gets bandied about in the local-foodie/farmer’s-markety circles. I was reminded of this fact when ES fan and new ES commenter NeeNee, who also happens to be one of my best friends from undergrad, recently reported to me:
I’m getting my green thumb on. I’ve had a severe problem at garden stores this spring, but we hope to be totally overflowing with veggies this summer. However, good plants grow in good dirt, and our dirt is friggin terrible. It has no organic matter, and we can’t possibly make enough compost to make it good. I’m ashamed to say that I’m not a very organic farmer….
Sorry, NeeNee, I didn’t ask for your permission before I broadcasted your addiction to gardening to the whole world via the interwebs! But as I was saying, I recently read this Huffington Post article on organic farming, Organic vs. Conventional: Have you been robbed?, that led me to question whether organic is really all that good. Now I’m not sure that NeeNee has all that much to be ashamed of. The author of the afore mentioned article,Makenna Goodman, a sustainable-living blogger and free-range egg farmer from Vermont, describes the reason she chose not to farm organic eggs, but instead opts for feeding the chickens cheaper grain and letting them roam free on her bucolic Vermont farm. Makenna argues:
…Organic may not mean the food is better for you. Organic may not mean the animal was treated right. Organic may, in fact, be little more than a sweet notion and marketing campaign that rests easy the hearts of the eco-conscious consumer. Organic, in other words, is not always the right choice. Sorry, but it’s true.
Wow. Provocative! The thing is, Makenna’s article kind of got to me, especially the part about her love for the free-range hens who spend their days consuming rose petals and basking and frolicking about (can chickens frolick?) under the weak Vermont sun (okay she didn’t really say they eat rose petals, but I imagine that would be the ideal life for an egg-laying hen, no?).
Organic veggies make sense to me: No one wants to eat veggies drenched in chemicals. But organic eggs? The article pretty much convinced me that there is not necessarily anything inherently good about eating eggs from hens that were only fed organic grain. Of course Makenna’s article does conflict with Mari Beautyman’s assessment of the virtues of organic eggs and organic milk, also published in the Huffington Post over a year ago. But my gut instinct is to side with MaKenna Goodman’s assessment in this debate. Granted, I’m no scientist…. just another biologist’s daughter (I think I may have mentioned that before). I guess I could look for more info in the much lauded peer reviewed journals…. But I prefer to put it to the blog.
And for the meat eaters among us, I’m wondering whether you all buy into the idea that organic meat is any better than conventional meat. Apparently it doesn’t indicate a difference in the actual treatment of the critters. Putting it to you foodie types on ES. Do you buy the organic hype?
ESer Liza points us to the Daily Show’s excellent piece of investigative journalism slamming “the limousine liberal” elitist local organic gardening trend that Gansie’s always pushing on us 😉
(Photo: Beaches Local Food Market)