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Organic: a load of BS?

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  • Organic: a load of BS?

    Penn & Teller on organic foods:

    What do you think? I think they might have a point.

  • #2

    I tell ya what, the veggies I grow in my garden beat the crap out of anything you'll find at Walmart.


    • #3

      The magicians? If they were offering magic trick secrets, I'd bite... But, are they experts on food?

      Homegrown is definitely best, Diana!


      • #4

        Give 'em a chance. Is it so hard to consider that the organic movement has become a matter of faith instead of fact? Gotta look at both sides of the story.

        p.s. I agree, home-grown veggies taste great, but they're insanely expensive when you factor in all your costs (including your time).


        • #5

          My understanding was that there are some fruits and veggies with thick skin, like avocado, in which the organic quality is less important than in others, like strawberries.

          Of course, when you factor in the cost on the environment, all organic all the time is the most advantageous.


          • #6

            I actually saw Penn and Teller live once at the Mirage in Las Vegas. After the show, I talked to Penn Gilette and asked him about his Showtime series "Bullshit" (the show featuring the episode you mention). I asked if they ever did a show where they took a side then realized at a later time that they were wrong. Penn responded that yes, they had, the most notorious one being the episode on how 2nd hand smoking was not bad for you (they later concluded that yes it is bad). But if you had watched the show, you would have sworn they were onto something.

            On the show, they really blast the side that they're trying to debunk. So you need to take what they say with a grain of salt. Yes, there are very probably elements of B.S. associated with the organic food industry. But finding one study that shows there is a negligible difference between the nutritional value of a specific organic fruit and its conventional cousin (and who knows what nutrients they're testing for) does not prove that there is not a significant health advantage to buying organic. How about pesticide/other synthetic residue in the conventional item that isn't being tested for in the nutritional profile? What about sustainability of farming procedures, which you pretty much never support if you buy conventional? I'm not an expert but these are just a few of the questions I had when I watched the episode in question.


            • #7

              Seems pretty one sided against organics and seems heavily funded by corporations or lobbyist... As for the taste tests... I'd have to agree that I don't think I can truly tell the difference between organics and non either... The conventionally grown stuff probably is fresher and taste better due to all the hormones, injections, pesticides used to grow.

              I choose organics not because I believe they taste better but for the nutritional value, no hormones, and pesticide issues with conventional produce.

              I love how they try to make it seem like all organic eating people are crazy hippies from the 70's.


              • #8

                I'm not saying they're right, it's just good to hear some criticism when something becomes a quasi-faith. What if the benefits of organic are way overblown??


                • #9


                  What if the benefits of organic are way overblown?? </blockquote>

                  What if they aren&#39;t?

                  There are so many lies and misconceptions in the food industry, that no end consumer has a clue what goes on anymore...

                  The "Seven Deadly Sins"

                  Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . . Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
                  Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
                  Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)


                  • #10

                    Also, let&#39;s consider the difference between livestock raised on all organic grain, and livestock actually fed its natural diet (say, grass, but still "organic" with no pesticides). There&#39;s going to be a big difference in fat and nutrient profile and how healthy the animal in question is (susceptibility to E. coli, etc.).

                    Framing the debate about food supply quality as organic vs. non-organic really doesn&#39;t address many points of great substance that are relevant in either context.


                    • #11

                      To me, it&#39;s about the pesticides: what they do to the workers who are surrounded by them day and night, what they do to the soil, and then there&#39;s the fact that then corporations have to genetically modify the vegetables so that the pesticides will continue working.

                      When I was little, there was an apple tree outside our apartment building. We kids would pick apples from it and bring them home, and the first thing parents would always ask is "That tree isn&#39;t sprayed, is it?"

                      I think it&#39;s a basic instinct to want to eat something that isn&#39;t sprayed with chemicals.


                      • #12

                        Addressing the issue of the taste test:

                        It might very well be the case that &#39;everything being equal&#39; an organic tomato tastes noticeably better than a conventional tomato. Discovering that fact however, if it were true, would be damn near impossible.

                        Were the two items picked at the same time? Are they the same type of tomato? Were they grown in the same soil? Was one tended to better than the other. If you grew something in ideal conditions using pesticides and then grew the same type of vegetable or fruit in horrible conditions without using any pesticides would it be that much of a shock if the former looked or tasted better than the latter?

                        My point is that if you are going to do an organic vs non-organic taste test, IMHO there is a large burden on you to show that the processes by which the two samples were created are sufficiently similar to make the comparison even valid. They didn&#39;t do that at all on the show.

                        A good example of the effect of this is how Mark recommends that we eat local, conventional produce over distantly created, organic produce. The effect of a large transit time on quality of produce can often trump its lack of synthetic ingredients (pesticides, etc.).


                        • #13

                          "Organic" generically has pushed forth into the virtually meaningless, especially as an "approved label." Giant corporations are running technically organic farms that are vast in scale -- I think our lot is more interested in small-scale sustainable agriculture that tends to be organic in spirit if not in label.

                          So yeah, it&#39;s kinda BS and kinda not.


                          • #14

                            I recorded the episode and watched it the other night. I can see their point and they make a couple of interesting statements, but I am not on board with the way they went about it.

                            First, could they have found a worse representative of the "organic" movement as the couple that they used? Why couldn&#39;t they get some intelligent, competent people to talk with like Mark or just about anybody on this board?

                            Second, they didn&#39;t address meat at all, only produce and they touched on milk.

                            Lastly, if one does a little investigating into the "Hudson Institute" you&#39;ll find that they&#39;re industry shills. Take a look at some of where their funding comes from:


                            * Ag Processing Inc

                            * American Crop Protection Association

                            * American Cyanamid

                            * Archer Daniels Midland

                            * Cargill

                            * Ciba-Geigy

                            * ConAgra Foods

                            * Conrad Black

                            * CropLife International

                            * DowElanco

                            * DuPont

                            * Eli Lilly and Company

                            * Exxon Mobil

                            * Fannie Mae

                            * General Electric Fund

                            * Heinz

                            * IBM

                            * Lilly Endowment

                            * McDonald&#39;s

                            * Merck

                            * Microsoft

                            * Monsanto

                            * National Agricultural Chemical Association

                            * Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Group

                            * Novartis

                            * PayPal

                            * PhRMA

                            * PriceWaterhouseCoopers

                            * Procter & Gamble

                            * Sunkist Growers

                            * Syngenta Crop Protection

                            * United Agri Products

                            * Westfield Corporation

                            Now THAT is what I call Bullshit.