To be upfront with any new readers, my husband and I are organic crop farmers. We walk the line of organic and conventional agriculture every day – we raise 2400 hogs in climate controlled curtain sided barns, meaning our animals are raised conventionally. We do this for a few reasons, but the main one is so that we are able to capture the manure to use as our fertilizer on our fields. In our opinion, it is the ultimate recycling program.
Much has been said about a newly published report by two doctors at Stanford University about nutritional differences in organic and conventional foods. I am a little sad that friends who choose to farm differently than I do are touting this report as a “see I told you so” kind of deal. I have avoided my Facebook account for most of the day because of some comments. So, here is my take on this.
Ever since advertising and marketing started – and all I know about that timeline is it started before I was ever thought about – people have been touting their products in such a way as to sway people into buying what they are selling. Who can forget the slogans “Tastes Great, Less Filling”, “Finger Lickin’ Good”, Good To The Last Drop”, or “Breakfast of Champions”?
Land O’ Lakes will tell you that their milk will stay fresher, longer because of their opaque packaging. Chevy Trucks will tell you that their trucks have a better payload than their competitors. Are they being deceptive, or are they trying to appeal to their target audience? How are the advertising practices of milk brands or truck brands any different than how conventional or organic produce are advertised?
The Stanford study looked at nutrition – mostly vitamins A, C, and E. It also looked at detectable pesticide residue. My first response to the study of the vitamins was “duh”. I don’t buy organic produce because I think it has better nutrients. I buy according to taste, and what my family will eat. Many times we can find different varieties of vegetables in the organic section that have a taste we prefer. Look at the surge in heirloom tomatoes being grown in back yard gardens, the the varieties of small tomatoes available at your local supermarket. People are enjoying the food experience, and are demanding foods that fit in with their developing tastes.
I have talked with people at different events that appreciate the way we grow our crops. They believe that a minimal three crop rotation is the best for the soil and the environment. They will buy organic as a way of supporting those who farm in ways they believe in. Nothing was said about nutritional value. There is more to the organic equation than just nutrients, I think.
We should all be celebrating that fact that there was only 38% of conventional produce that had detectable pesticide residue. That means our pesticide residue monitoring systems are working. I understand that there are those who have very little tolerance for pesticide residues due to allergies and illness, which is why you buy organic. I am happy you have that choice, and that it is becoming more readily available for you.
I will never make anyone feel bad for the food choices they make. We all have different taste in clothes, shoes, cars, TV’s, computers, orange juice, cereal, etc. We don’t tear each other apart for those differences, why do so many feel it is okay to condemn food choices? I see no need to have an us vs them attitude in agriculture. What benefit is that to anyone? I would encourage everyone to have a mixed, balanced diet filled with color…and the occasional deep fried Milky Way on a stick.
I am just thankful I live in a time where I do have the choice to buy what I like. I am thankful for those who gave their lives so that we are able to express our opinions in a public forum, and not be jailed for it. I am thankful for those who are still serving who are sacrificing time with their families, and for those who are eating mess hall meals so we are able to walk into a grocery store and buy whatever I feel like buying that day. I am thankful for all of the families that are farming, doing the best they can to raise crops and livestock for those who are unable to. As you can tell, I think there are many other issues that are a little more important than this study.
My younger brother, saluting the American Flag at a Twins game in July…a few weeks before being deployed for 12 months. I thank him for defending my freedom, and pray for his safe return.