MSN recently published a little piece called 6 Myths About Organic Food. The only hitch is this: They’re not dispelling myths; they’re propagating them (and probably not organically!)!
The first myth this article attempts to dispel is the myth that organic foods are always better for the environment. While the article acknowledges that crops grown organically don’t pollute our environment with deadly chemicals, it claims that since “organic farming is only about half as productive as conventional farming, it requires far more land to produce the same amount of food.” MSN should do their research a bit more carefully because numerous recent studies have found that this is a myth, if not a flat-out lie.
For the real truths about organic food, we suggest you check out Farm Aid funded-group Organic Farming Research Foundation. They’ll tell you, for instance, of a study based on 154 growing seasons’ worth of data on various crops that found that organic crops yielded 95% of crops grown conventionally. And if the USDA would increase its funding of organic crops to reflect the proportion of organic products we see in the marketplace (an effort that OFRF is working on with Farm Aid’s support), we could probably get that 95% up to 100% or higher!
MSN gets myth #2, IT’S MORE NUTRITIOUS, wrong too: Recent studies have proven that organic food is in fact more nutritious than conventionally grown food. A March 2008 publication, “New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods,” compiles the evidence of more than 100 recent studies that have found that organic food contains more nutrients than food grown with chemical inputs.
As far as myth #5: YOUR’E SUPPORTING SMALL FARMS OR ECO-COMPANIES, MSN gets this partly right. But most of us are smart enough to know that just because something has been raised organically, doesn’t mean that it comes straight from a family farm (even if that’s what the package has been designed to make you think!). But just because some of the producers of organic products happen to be large corporations doesn’t mean that those companies (at least the brand that makes the organic product) aren’t “eco-companies.” Let’s be realistic, it’s best to get our food directly from farmers — people we know and trust, who are important to our local economy and ecosystem. But buying directly from a local family farmer is not always possible (although this is the goal that Farm Aid is working toward!). In certain cases we are going to buy some products from a large food corporation. At the very least, don’t we want to tell those corporations that we want our food grown without chemicals? If we tell them that by buying their organic products, won’t they produce more products organically? Won’t that result in fewer toxins in our soil, groundwater, and oceans?
To sum it up: Organic is always a good option. And buying direct from a family farmer is what we at Farm Aid like best. If you happen to be growing your own, check out today’s Homegrown blog post to learn how to make your own organic pesticide from veggies and dish soap!