“Certified Organic” is not the most important thing about our food.


The most important thing is the food itself! And most of us in the Western world are eating the wrong food. Under the title of “myth-busting” in a recent blog piece (July 18, 2011) by Christie Wilcox in Scientific American (See link below), she did a nice job of presenting a ton of apparently well-documented information that would suggest that buying organic isn’t that much better for you or for the environment, yet it costs a whole lot more money. But there was a single paragraph that meant more to me than all of the rest of the lengthy piece combined:

Nutritionally speaking, organic food is more like a brand name or luxury item. It’s great if you can afford the higher price and want to have it, but it’s not a panacea. You would improve your nutritional intake far more by eating a larger volume of fruits and vegetables than by eating organic ones instead of conventionally produced ones.

That’s pretty much the conclusion that I made in 2003 when I started eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. But the larger point in the article that was never mentioned or even hinted was the simple fact that 95% of the people in the Western world (maybe including the author) truly believe that we humans “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy. And that simple misconception is what is driving the absolute madness of our never-ending search for the next great source of animal protein. That’s the myth that I would like to see her bust.

For if we can bust that myth, we can start feeding 20 people on the same amount of land that it takes to feed just one person the typical Western diet. When we bust that myth, we can feed the world’s entire population of seven billion people on far less than two billion acres and can then return the other six billion acres (that we’re using for our “animal protein” food) to nature — forests, meadows and more natural habitats for the other “Earthlings” with whom we share this planet. 

Michael Pollan, author of "In Defense of Food" and "Omnivore's Dilemma"

I liked another line in her piece when she said, “The sad truth is, factory farming is factory farming, whether its organic or conventional. Many large organic farms use pesticides liberally. They’re organic by certification, but you’d never know it if you saw their farming practices.” Then she quoted Michael Pollan, best-selling book author and organic supporter, who said in an interview with Organic Gardening,

“They’re organic by the letter, not organic in spirit… if most organic consumers went to those places, they would feel they were getting ripped off.”

After reading the entire piece this morning, I am now less likely to seek out the “Certified Organic” in the supermarket and just continue to focus on what looks freshest and appears to be the best value. But I will continue to seek out and buy local, fresh organic food for as long as I live. I refer to a piece that I wrote earlier this year after visiting Frank Oakes’ family farm and restaurant in Naples, FL. Also provided is my post earlier this week on another example of our harmful and unnecessary search for animal protein. (See the complete Christie Wilcox piece just below my signature)

J. Morris Hicks, the "big picture guy," promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Organic, local and sustainable — simply the right thing to do

Fish-Farming — A sad “solution” to an unnecessary problem

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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com

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Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture | Science Sushi, Scientific American Blog Network.

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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One Response to “Certified Organic” is not the most important thing about our food.

  1. John says:

    Although I sometimes buy organic, one thing that always bothered me about organic is the possibility that it was grown using manures from slaughterhouses.

    On the other hand, crops for which varieties exist that might be genetically modified, such as corn and soy, I only buy organic.

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