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The Organic Versus Chemical Feud
Category: Diet and Nutrition
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
Now, regrettably, and at great personal risk to my reputation, I
must try to puncture the very favorite belief of food religionists,
the doctrine that organically grown food is as nutritious as food
can possibly be, Like Woody Allen's brown-rice-eating friends,
people think if you eat Organic foods, you will inevitably live a
very long time and be very healthy. Actually, the Organic vs.
chemical feud is in many ways false. Many (not all) samples of
organically grown food are as low or lower in nutrition as foods
raised with chemical fertilizers. Conversely, wisely using chemical
fertilizers (not pesticides) can greatly increase the nutritional
value of food. Judiciously used Organic fertilizing substances can
also do that as well or better. And in either case, using chemical
fertilizers or so-called organic fertilizers, to maximize nutrition
the humus content of the soil must be maintained. But, raising soil
organic matter levels too high can result in a massive reduction in
the nutritional content of the food being grown--a very frequent
mistake on the part of Organic devotees. In other words, growing
nutrition is a science, and is not a matter of religion.
The food I fed to my daughter in childhood, though Organic according
to Rodale and the certification bureaucrats, though providing this
organic food to my family and clients gave me a feeling of
self-righteousness, was not grown with an understanding of the
nutritional consequences of electing to use one particular Organic
fertilizing substance over another. So we and a lot of regional
Organic market gardeners near us that we bought from, were raising
food that was far from ideally nutritious. At least though, our food
was free of pesticide residues.
The real dichotomy in food is not "chemical" fertilizer versus
"Organic," It is between industrial food and quality food. What I
mean by industrial food is that which is raised with the intention
of maximizing profit or yield. There is no contradiction between
raising food that the "rabbis" running Organic certification
bureaucracies would deem perfectly "kosher" and raising that same
food to make the most possible money or the biggest harvest. When a
farmer grows for money, they want to produce the largest number of
bushels, crates, tons, bales per acre. Their criteria for success is
primarily unit volume. Many gardeners think the same way. To
maximize bulk yield they build soil fertility in a certain direction
(organically or chemically) and choose varieties that produce
greater bulk. However, nature is ironic in this respect. The most
nutritious food is always lower yielding. The very soil management
practices that maximize production simultaneously reduce nutrition.
The real problem we are having about our health is not that there
are residues of pesticides in our food. The real problem is that
there are only residues of nutrition left in our foods. Until our
culture comes to understand this and realizes that the health costs
of accepting less than optimum food far exceeds the profits made by
growing bulk, it will not be possible to frequently find the
ultimate of food quality in the marketplace, organically grown or
not. It will not be possible to find food that is labeled or
identified according to its real nutritional value. The best I can
say about Organic food these days is that it probably is no less
nutritious than chemically-grown food while at least it is free of
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