Monday, May 24, 2010
As I checked out Twitter tonight, something caught my attention, and I had to post my reaction here in this blog.
First, look at the impulsive tweets, by people with an ax to grind against organic food, or people who just RT (re-tweet) news items without checking them out.
Some people like to persecute those who favor organic farming and organic food. They like to say we're "idiots" for buying organic products. I suspect that most of these people love junk food and feel guilty about their poor diets. To feel taller, they step on other people whose opinions are different from their own.
The "anti-organic" crowd is crowing jubilantly about a Reuters report. They claim that the report bashes organic food and declares it has no proven health benefits. I guess they're looking for any excuse to keep obliviously consuming dangerous additives and noxious chemicals in their beloved "convenience foods" that "taste so great".
Problem: the Reuters article links to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) as the source of the study report, but I couldn't find the report anywhere on their site.
That's kind of suspicious. The Reuters link was not a direct link to the report, but a link to the home page of AJCN. That's sloppy web content writing, but typical of mainstream news organizations. So people on Twitter are linking to a Reuters article with a dubious link to the source document. Some "scientific method" this is shaping up to be!
Here's the statement they're chortling about, from "No Evidence Organic Foods Benefit Health".
A "disappointingly small" number of well-designed studies have looked at whether organic foods may have health benefits beyond their conventional counterparts', according to the review, by researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in the UK.
Moreover, they found, what studies have been done have largely focused on short-term effects of organic eating -- mainly antioxidant activity in the body -- rather than longer-term health outcomes. And most of the antioxidant studies failed to find differences between organic and conventional diets.
But the report they're tweeting links to does not say that organic food has absolutely no advantages over non-organic food. In fact, the report simply states that some short-term, limited studies have found no big boost in antioxidant activity in the bloodstreams of those who eat organic food.
We who prefer organic food have multiple reasons for our choices.
Now I direct your attention to a comment a reader posted on this Reuters story.
Wow. No scientific evidence that pesticides are harmful?! This is just the type of rhetoric that the tobacco industry was using 30 years ago.
Perhaps we need to start buying our own pesticides … in salt shakers and with instructions how much to add to each food to make it healthier. It’s such a pity when otherwise respectable news organizations like Reuters participate by spreading nonsense.
LOL. Who does Reuters think they're fooling?
Here's another comment somebody attached to the story.
Why were they testing antioxidant activity? Why people eat organic is to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
I don’t think any organic company ever tried to tell people their food had more antioxidants. It’s just that their food doesn’t have the added poisons.
When will researchers start asking the right questions? Or is it that they are paid to ask the wrong questions so that we can see headlines like “No Evidence Organic Foods Benefit Health: Study”. With studies like that, who needs ignorance?
Typical–spending millions to see if nutritional value is any better and completely ignoring the poisons and their effects on the body. Whaaaaattttt??????? Ridiculous.
Take a look at the end of this increasingly suspicious Reuters article.
However, the study had several key limitations, including its reliance on parents' reports of eczema. And the basic design of the study does not allow for any conclusions about whether children's consumption of organic dairy was the reason for the lower eczema risk.
While questions remain as to whether organic foods have any extra nutritional value, people buy organic for a number of other reasons as well.
Organic foods are made without the use of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones -- which could potentially reap benefits for people's health and the environment.
The current review, Dangour and his colleagues point out, did not look for studies on the possible health benefits of reduced exposure to those substances. Nor did it address the environmental impact of organic food production.
And yet, the junk food junkies call us "idiots" who are "wasting" our money. Time will tell.
It's not easy, this business of mastering our taste buds and hunger drives.
It takes a lot of self-control and self-awareness to shift your eating habits from what tastes good to what does your system good. What we eat is largely determined by what our parents and schools taught us, the influence of peers and media advertising, the aroma of fast food restaurants, and what we feel "entitled to".
People can argue about food the way they argue about religion or politics. I prefer to let them debate all they want. I'm too busy studying topics related to improving my health and extending the time I have in this life.
The very existence of health food stores and organic farms poses a threat to insecure people who probably have tried to adopt a healthier diet, but failed. Others are just ignorant and are jealous of people who have learned something they don't understand or don't agree with.
I personally don't care if they never prove scientifically that organic food is better than non-organic food. I will still refuse to dump loads of weird chemicals into my body and the scientists can eat whatever they want. Since genetically modified food is a product of science, I'm sure a lot of scientists will cheer and champion these horrible foods, too.
It's the Myth of the Technological Imperative: what can be made, must be made, and humans will just have to adjust to it. The idea that brought us nuclear weapons, violent video games, and uncontrollable oil spills.
I'm sticking with organic food. How about you?