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The Great Organic Debate

Posted in Society and Morals, and Spotlight on Food

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Is eating organic really healthier or is media hype? With the recent spate of food recalls, even a supplier of organic spinach was forced into admitting they had a listeria outbreak, leading to a recall of all products with spinach from Amy’s Kitchen.

In years gone by, people had no choice but to live off the land. Nowadays people who live in cities don’t have that choice. Some opt for an allotment, but that will not provide enough for subsistence. The growth of Farmer’s Markets has bridged that gap, however not all farms are organic. To be classified as organic, farms must convert and follow an application process before they are approved. It can be a long and costly and even then the farm may not pass the standards required. There are also local Cooperatives (co-ops) where farmers can sell their produce and members for a fee can get discounts. These are increasing in number and are a good blend of locally sourced produce and many stock ethical brands or foods with a health aspect.

The concerns over GM (genetically modified) foods also carries weight in the debate. Natural is preferable and healthier than artificially created food, however as organic is considerably higher in price and also more perishable with a shorter shelf life is it affordable to the masses? The price of organic can differ from a few pennies or nearly double in some cases, so families on a budget must decide between hunger or health. Not a choice people should be making in this day and age when there is so much food wastage.

Many farms struggle to make a living as society is geared towards mass production, so while they may not be officially organic, they may still choose to use organic methods. Personally for vegetables I opt for frozen at certain times of the year as it’s practical and cheaper. The media and celebrity chefs may tell us we need to buy organic, however it’s not always possible. Does that mean those who can’t afford organic or if have no organic outlets nearby are disadvantaged? Is organic dividing the classes between those who can afford and those who can’t? I do like to support Farmer’s Markets and they do well and some even take food stamps, but not all items will be organic. They will be fresh though and creates an outlet for farms that previously may have only had a farm stand and hoped for the best if there is no Cooperative nearby.

While too many chemicals on food is discouraging, organic is still susceptible to bacteria and is not 100% safe. Organic is marketed as a healthier way live, but the nutritional difference is often negligible. It’s not only the food you choose to eat, but how you cook it and when you eat that can also make a difference. Growing your own is the best way, and is possible with patience and good weather. Now that can be truly organic. Not all countries can afford organic methods and feeding the population comes before that. In addition factor in the weather and climate; not all countries are capable of growing crops, hence droughts and starvation or poor crops.

Organic farming is what farming was before fertilizers were created and the natural way; however the world has the choice to use them or not now and has the knowledge and machinery to maximize harvests. While organic maybe preferable, the health and nutritional benefits are marginally better, but unless you live in a place where organic is available year round, it simply isn’t possible, especially for city dwellers. Hopefully organic food will not be reserved for the wealthy as it appears now, but people shouldn’t dismiss non-organic. Not all farmers can afford to be officially organic, but that does not mean that their methods of farming are that far removed. The organic label doesn’t always mean safe or healthy despite the cost, but proves that we don’t need to rely heavily on chemicals to produce food, but we can limit them to what is necessary rather than to maximize profit.

 

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