Is organic food a 'scam'?

In a recent thread in GQ, several poster called organic food ‘a scam’

One poster then chimed in saying organic food has a real benefit to the environment, although perhaps not the the health of the individual consumer.

Is there any real answer to this? Are their proven environmental or health benefits to organic food?

Is there any regulation of the term ‘organic’ as applied to foods in the USA, or is it basically down to the honesty of the vendor? (there is in the UK, but I’m just wondering if the perception of Organic foods in the USA might be partly because of sloppy, vague or absent standards)

Organic food is sold as healthier and more natural and better tasting than conventional food, and I’ve never seen a blind test that confirms this idea.

It is in some ways beneficial to the environment, and in others not so much. Some of the pesticides and fertilizers and such that we use are less harmful to the environment than the “natural” ones they use. Genetically engineered crops can also have a better defense against pests than unaltered ones, making it so that they require less pesticide. Organic farming is not something suitable to be ramped up to large scale production, because it simply gets much less food per acre. The world couldn’t switch over to primarily organic farming without starving a whole lot of people.

Whether it’s a “scam” or not depends on who’s selling you on the idea, but I’m leaning in that direction. It isn’t better or healthier, and whether or not it’s better for the environment is a mixed bag.

Organic eggs have various health benefits over factory farm-produced eggs. Same for organic milk. And organic vegetables are free from pesticide residues that may cause cancer.

Speaking from gardening experience, organic vegetables also have insect and arthropod infestations, are nibbled by wildlife, afflicted by various plant diseases, and so forth. Unless you consider such additions “healthy” they are a negative and not a positive of organic farming.

Oh, and my garden easily suffered 30-40% losses. That’s one thing in a backyard plot, quite another if you’re attempting to grow for profit.

I don’t think organic food is a “scam” - I do think it’s oversold.

Another thing - food is only as healthy as the soil it’s grown in. I don’t care how organic the farming, if it’s done in ground that is either deficient in nutrients, or contaminated, the resulting food will not be healthy. For example, spinach is so good at soaking up lead from the soil it has been used in lead remediation - but eating the result, no matter how green and wonderful looking, would be most unhealthy. Organic vegetables grown on contaminated ground may be free of pesticides but full of other bad stuff.

Whether or not a food is “healthy” can be a surprisingly complex question.

Sorry to say, but those articles have some dubious claims.

The first article does not compare organic to “regular” eggs. Especially with statements like:

Really? So he has no data to support a claim, but why not make it anyway? Pure crap.

The second article is from where it states:

The third article, ugh. Well, first, she misuses and misspells a word:


Of course, she ignores the fact that a lot of organics come from China when she says:

But if you notice she’s completely missing a HUGE point. The fact that organic do use pesticides and there are no strict regulations about that in the US. The article is a bit sad coming from a source named “Scientific Blogging”.

Organic food is no healthier than ordinary food.

Got any studies that say this? Your quote makes the claim, but doesn’t back it up. Here’s a websitethat makes the opposite claim, and also doesn’t back it up.

Yes, but organic vegetables carry an elevated risk of e.coli and other diseases/infestations.

I’m not sure about all the other stuff, but if someone thinks that Atlantic salmon tastes anywhere near as good as wild Alaskan, they are in-freakin’-sane.

So, chalk one up for organic, I guess.

There aren’t as many organic farms as “regular” farms, so odds are any organic food you find at your supermarket had to travel farther to get there. A longer drive means more pollution created by the trucks carrying the produce. So, there’s one environmental negative for ya.

I buy organic meat, eggs and dairy products not for any benefits to the environment or health benefits but for animal welfare.

Organic is a good direction for us all to go, in theory. It would be really nice if we could grow good looking veggies and meat without any kind of additives and completely humanely. Unfortunately it just isn’t possible to grow enough food for the low prices we expect without some sort of nod to mass production techniques. Sure, you and I can put in a garden and produce some “organic” food that tastes better than the store food. In my garden it usually costs me about $2 per tomato in the end.

The “scam” of organic food is that most of it is grown in an almost identical manner to the non-organic, with just enough of a concession to gain the organic label, and yet such huge claims are made.

The short answer is yes, overwhelmingly yes.

The concept of organic farming is worthwhile and noble. As Broomstick mentioned, the health of your produce is a reflection of the health of your soil. Likewise, the health of your livestock is a reflection of the produce you feed them, which is a reflection of the health of the soil.

The problem is that the term organic was very quickly applied to anything and everything in order to make more money–as long as it followed the letter of the law, producers were happy to spit in the face of the spirit of the law.

It didn’t take the agro-business industry long to realize it could relabel all if it’s industrial crap “organic” and make more money. Unfortunately consumers are all to happy to blindly buy what they’re told to buy.

The label organic DOES NOT mean that it is healthier, better tasting, or better for the environment than the cheaper, non-organic, product next to it. It might be, but probably isn’t.

Any other opinions you’d like to share? What’s your favourite brand of peanut butter? Do you prefer Helman’s or Miracle Whip?

That’s wild vs farmed - not really the same topic, and I don’t think there’s much argument about the difference.

You can’t assign an “organic” label to wild caught game.

As far as taste goes, we have an accidental experiment going in our house. Our 3 year old daughter (can’t read) is fed by my mother in law (who can’t read English and probably has no idea what “organic” even is).

My daughter (who is extremely fussy about taste and texture) has rejected the non-organic version of:

  • apples and grapes
  • chicken and turkey
  • cereal
  • goldfish-type crackers
  • soup
    and a variety of other things but happily consumes the organic version. I can’t remember her ever going the other way.

Of course I have no idea if the reason the organic stuff is preferred by our princess is because it is organic or just better in some other way (they are fresher, have more salt, less sweet, whatever) that has nothing to do with being organic, per se.

So what makes you think the term “organic” has anything to do with animal welfare? Have you checked the requirements for organic eggs? Does it say anything about making the chickens happy?

To save you the trouble, the answer is no. It says they can’t have antibiotics or growth hormones. Nothing about their welfare. And if you look at the factory farms, the ones selling organic chicken/eggs haven’t changed anything. They put in a little doggy door to say the chickens are “free range.” And if the chickens in a particular batch get sick, they dose’m up and sell them as inorganic chicken.

Same farm, same practices, 4 times the price. To me that is a scam.

Yes. I have noticed that some store brand organics (Trader Joes as well as supermarkets) taste much worse than the name brands to us, or even the Whole Foods store brand.

Well, the eggs that drop out of my hens butt taste a hell of a lot better than storebought, and are of better quality as they are absolutely fresh that morning…and I know what they got fed and didnt get medicationwise, and they are very healthy.

Not everybody gets to keep hens however =(

Yes it does. I suppose the Danish and EU requirements are different from the Canadian, but in Denmark organic eggs include such things as minimum space per chicken, requirements on covering, that they much be outside so and so many months a year etc.

HA But the joke here is that your eggs aren’t organic! They follow the spirit of organic farming, but you can’t sell them or label them as USDA Organic until you follow the law of organic farming.

So again, to drive home the point, your eggs are not organic, but they are tastier, healthier, and better for the environment than organic eggs from an ORGANIC industrial farm.

ergo organic food is a scam.