Is organic food a 'scam'?

That may be true, I don’t know about Danish or EU requirements. But you might consider how old the chickens are that you buy. Chances are you’re buying a chicken that isn’t much older than 6-10 weeks. In the US, during the first 6 weeks or so they aren’t allowed outside because of the health risk from not being able to use antibiotics. That gives the chickens about 1 month to room free and play kick ball before they’re slaughtered.

Danish hens (both ecological and on factory farms) used for egg production are 12-13 months when slaughtered.

Here are the requirements for ecological egg production: organic hens used for egg production are not allowed to have their beaks cut as is normal practise for non-ecological hens. They must have access to both indoor and outdoor areas year round. Inside there must max be 9 hens per m2, and stick to sit on, nests to lie in and straw on at least 1/3 of the floor space. The indoor areas must be lighted with natural light. Outside there must as a minimum be 4m2 per hen and the ground must be covered with vegetation. The outdoor areas must be taken out of production every other year and lay fallow for a year for the vegetation to regrow. Ecological hens must be fed with varied and non-processed fodder (grasses, carrots, roes, etc.) In addition the fodder must be ecological. The last thing is not important for me.

That would be organic e.coli though, which is proven better the the regular type :smiley:

YO! You guys are going each other’s heads… In the US, at least, and I suspect also in the EU, chickens are used in two different industries, broilers (meat) and laying hens (eggs).

Your posts are regarding egg-laying hens, which are longer lived, while emacknight is talking about broilers, which, in the US, are bred so that they reach market size in 6 weeks. A ten week old (or older) chicken is either niche market, backyard bird, or one of the few that didn’t make it at the 6 week mark (perhaps a breeder or laying hen). And since chicken barns usually do “all in-all out” biosecurity, they really want the whole flock out at the same time, and no stragglers left behind.

Also, IIRC, use of hormones is not allowed in poultry (organic or not).


USDA National Organic Program

There is a fact sheet available from the USDA from this web page describing to consumers what to look for on consumer labels. Look for the header that says, “Standard Organic Labeling for Consumers” and note the two links under it.

Also, many of the “bad” chemical used in farming are fat soluble, so are more dangerous in animal than in vegetable products. Something you may or may not be aware of.

TheMightyAtlas is right. Wild, ocean-caught Alaskan salmon cannot be called “organic”, while farmed, pen raised Atlantic salmon that are certified organic in Scotland, Norway or Chile are being sold as “organic” in the US. The USDA currently has no certification for “organic” salmon (or any seafood produced through aquaculture), other than wild salmon are excluded.

I find the whole concept of “organic” incredibly annoying. What is important to me is that the variety is grown because it tastes good, not because it is easy to ship or store. Same with meat. Give me pork from a nice fat pig and don’t put that god awful brine in it to make it moist.

The idea that organic food has more vitamins is probably BS, and even if it were marginally better, who cares? It’s not like the western world is malnourished. So eat the peel on potatoes if you think it tastes good, not because it is good for you. Don’t worry about nutrients being lost when you boil a carrot, make it taste good and you and your family will eat more of them,

If growing vegetables in shit makes them taste better that’s cool, if it takes a little fertilizer that’s cool with me too. I swear that if I have to listen to one more Birkenstocked person at a restaurant grill the waiter on every friggin ingredient in a dish someone will get hurt. Eating is a pleasure!!

And the term “organic” is just stupid. All food is organic because it contains molecules that have carbon in them.

But organic foods don’t have chemicals in them, right?

I don’t believe this is accurate; one of the complaints about the standards among folks who support the spirit of the rules (e.g., members of tilth groups) is that the welfare standards are too easily sidestepped, not that they’re nonexistent.

Ooh, my search just bore fruit:

Unless I’m drastically misreading this cite, there are certainly provisions in the standards that address animal welfare.

This complaint is really ridiculous, yet you keep seeing it. Words have more than one definition. Unless someone is speaking in the context of a chemistry experiment, they’re vastly unlikely to be referring to food as organic according to a chemist’s definition of the word.

What a load of crap.

One note–even if there are strict definitions of what foods can be considered organic (fulfillment of certain criteria, such as the lack of use of certain pesticides, etc.) that still does not mean that the food is free such chemicals. If Monsanto chooses to spray its crops with pesticide X, and a small-time organic farmer miles away does not, guess what? The “organic” produce might still contain significant amounts of pesticide X. It’s difficult to ensure that organic food really is that pure, though that’s not to say it’s not a worthwhile endeavor.

According to Left Hand of Dorkness’ cite, even the federal regulations aren’t even being followed by all:

Well I know that, it’s just that “organic” in terms of how it is used by the organic food crowd is just so devoid of meaning to be useless. Are petroleum based chemicals organic? Petroleum comes from plants and animals that decomposed. If I create mulch, is that not “manufacturing” a new substance by transforming a plant based substance? How about if I completely synthesize something from scratch but it is the exact same compound as occurs in nature; does the plant somehow magically “know” that it is a bad chemical rather than a good chemical? If pesticides are bad, then how about the pesticides made by plants to protect themselves?

Crap science makes for crap public policy. Our food supply is the end result of thousands of years of man interfering with nature to improve the taste and yield of plants and animals and to transform the raw ingredients into wonderful products like cheese, wine, and bacon.

I highly recommend The Omnivore’s Dilemma for an excellent exploration of this topic, as well as other food production related issues.

Over at the JREF Forum, a regular poster who is a veterinarian in the UK said:

Okay, just to be clear, this is not a “traditional” vs “industrial” argument. I am not against the concept of organic agriculture. I do not like feed lots jam packed with cattle. I don’t like that those cattle had to be shipped hundreds of miles to feed lots near the corn because, “it’s cheaper to ship the cows than the corn.” (from a discussion with a Virginian farmer) I don’t like the over use of antibiotics, I don’t like the over use of pesticides. And I don’t like stripping the soil of everything in it requiring the overuse of chemical fertilizers.

But more than all of that, I hate that the term organic has been bastardized to the point that the above mentioned practices continue, now labeled organic with a hefty mark up. That is why organic food is a scam. The products sold in grocery stores labeled organic is bullshit. It is the industrialization of organic farming.

If you have the ability to raise chickens and get farm fresh eggs, I am envious of you.

But if you think you’re doing the world a favour by choosing the store brand organics line vs the regular store brand you’re just kidding yourself and probably making things worse.

And that is was this discussion is all about. It may be that some farmers are practicing ethical practices when it comes to growing produce and raising livestock. But that’s not what is in the Roundy’s Brand Organics (or what ever store you shop at).

As a good rule of thumb, if there is an able supply of products, that all look the same, you are NOT buying organic, what ever the label may say; you are in fact being ripped off. That can of organic kidney beans was regular kidney means last week, now it has new label and a higher price.

When you actually see real organic products, you’ll notice that they are never round, never free from blemishes, never uniform in size, and never plentiful.

Yup, a very good start on a long and painful path. The Compassionate Carnivore and 100 Mile Diet are also worth a read.

I should also point out that those that think organic food is not a scam need to learn and understand the term green washing.

No, that’s pretty much how it is. Vegetables absorb the minerals in the soil. If there aren’t minerals in the soil than there aren’t minerals in the vegetables. In wine it’s what’s know as terroir. It’s why the same grape grown in different places can taste differently.

In addition, the food animals eat is reflected in the taste of their meat. Salmon farmers are able to pick the colour of the meat that they desire like you pick paint for your living room. Then they feed them the right colour pellets towards the end of their life and get that brilliant orange colour.

There is a basis of fact in the term, “you are what you eat.”