Yahoo HealthWWOF guest author Lynn Cameron forwarded to us the Who Buys Organic? article by Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D. posted at Yahoo Health. Now, this article is interesting for a number of reasons, and I’ll let it speak for itself. My point is another one entirely.

I’m not disputing Dr. Margolis’ statement that "I truly believe that people should spend more time worrying about a balanced diet, not overeating, and choosing the right foods rather than whether or not the foods they buy are organic" — this is, after all, his statement of his belief, and at this distance one can’t argue that he doesn’t believe just that.

And, in the grand scheme of things, it’s entirely possible that planning and carrying out one’s diet, ensuring that one is not overeating and is indeed choosing the right foods would take "more time" than "worrying" about whether the foods one buys are organic anyway. But even that is not my point.

It’s hard not to take exception to this (I’ve bolded the section below for emphasis):

Some purchasers of organic foods believe that these foods improve their feelings of well-being. For example, a newspaper article I read recently quoted an organic food buyer as follows: "I feel like it’s healthier. I feel like I have more energy, and my skin is clearer when I eat it." Pardon my disbelief; it’s hard to swallow that an organic food could impart greater energy or clearer skin.

I think that he misses the point entirely, which leads to what would seem to be an incorrect conclusion. Sure, Dr. Margolis is free to criticize whatever he wishes, as he does in this article. I’m not sure, however, why he seems bent on indicating that organic foods have little value beyond being, well, just food of nearly the same quality as conventional food — food that is allowed to be produced with pesticides, herbicides and other toxins.

Let’s look at it this way:

Can it really be that great a stretch to consider
that not ingesting toxic substances
might have a positive effect on the body?

That is precisely what we’re attempting in consuming organic food rather than "conventionally grown" food.

Unfortunately, Dr. Margolis does not stop there. He also states:

Even if organic foods contain only minimally lower levels of pesticides than conventional foods, who knows whether a slightly greater intake of pesticides over a period of many years may prove harmful?

Indeed. Then why argue otherwise? It seems that Dr. Margolis is either arguing that conventional foods have very low levels of pesticides or is implying that organic foods have nearly as much pesticides as conventional food. Or, just perchance, could he actually be unaware of the USDA standards for 100% organic food? In which case, why argue anything at all?

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4 Comments for "Who Buys Organic – wrong!"

  1. Lynn Cameron

    I appreciate this perspective, Diane.

    It’s something those of us who’ve run an organic kitchen for decades would not readily observe. You’re making a snappy website about a true, but somewhat tired issue that can use renewal and all the interested action we can muster for it.


  2. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Lynn. We’ve been doing organic for over a decade now, I’d say.

    But what I don’t appreciate is when opinionated fluff (if that’s all it is -wink wink-) is presented as fact, particulary by someone with a string of degrees.

    Luckily, we can simply walk through the logic to deduce what is really being said, if not why.

  3. The direction of the Organic Food Industry

    […] But what are they trying to tell us? Here! Take this pesticide. We're not giving you that much, so we don't THINK it will be harmful. (See: Who Buys Organic — wrong!) […]

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    […] and the ability to apply reason and logic to a concept, is what led me to call into question a few statements from a Ph.D. (Gutsy? Probably. I think all this makes me sound a bit like Mr. Spock: Illogical!) Send to a […]

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