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The Organic Versus Chemical Feud

Categories: Diet and Nutrition
Sources: 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 fa
se. 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

pesticide residues.