Tag Archives: organic food

Reader’s Choice ’12: Food Fright

Remember Ryan Goodman?

Ryan Goodman

Ryan Goodman

He’s the young cowboy we visited last March. He’s been quite busy since then. Besides full-time graduate school, Ryan’s been blogging his passion for agriculture on CNN’s food blog Eatocracy.

You read that right: C-N-N.

Ryan graciously agreed to take a moment out of his celebrity schedule to be in our little Reader’s Choice feature. Meanwhile, our friend Dairy Carrie let me hijack his blog as a Bandita. I’ve never been a Bandita before! 

See my surprise guest post today on Ryan’s blog Agriculture Proud. But first, Ryan’s Reader’s Choice is:

Food Fright

click to read Food Fright

click to read Food Fright

Reader's Choice 2012

 

1 Comment

Filed under America, food & farm

What Organic Food Is and Is Not

There’s a lot of confusion about organic food.

USDA-Organic Seal

USDA Organic Seal

As a mom and consumer, I know organic food garners a premium price. But I like to have choices. My family buys and eats food that looks and tastes good and that we can afford. That includes conventional, organic, biotech, heirloom, domestic, international, and farmer’s market fare.

So how is organic food defined? The USDA sets the standards for foods labeled USDA Organic through the National Organic Program, established by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

Food that meets these standards can display the USDA Organic seal:

Organic crops. The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.
 
Organic livestock. The USDA organic seal verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.
 
Organic multi-ingredient foods. The USDA organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified organic content. If the label claims that it was made with specified organic ingredients, you can be sure that those specific ingredients are certified organic.
 

Seems straightforward. Why does confusion about organic food persist?

That brings us to what organic food is not:

bell peppers

peppers

Organic food is not more nutritious. This week’s Stanford University study concluded organic food is not healthier than conventional food. This isn’t really new information. Last year Scientific American reported 50 years of research comparisons have shown there are no health differences between organic and conventional food.

Organic food is not pesticide-free. Organic farms may use approved pesticides and fungicides derived from natural sources rather than synthetics to protect crops from insects and disease. Scientific American reported organic pesticides may be worse than those used in conventional farming. Organic food also tends to have more pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella than conventional food. It’s important to note the Stanford researchers found the pesticide levels of all food generally fell within the allowable safety limits.

Organic food is not better for the environment. According to Scientific American, organic farming requires more land to produce the same amount of food as conventional farming. If we were to switch to 100 percent organic farming today, we would have to clear another 20 percent of the ice-free land on earth to make up the difference in production.

Organic food is not necessarily local or fair-trade. Go Green Online reported the average organic food travels 1,200 miles before it reaches the consumer. And organic food may still be produced using illegal migrant workers receiving unfair wages in harsh working conditions.

My family buys and eats many different kinds of food; I’m not advocating one type of food over another. What I’m advocating is education and choice.

American blueberries

blueberries

We do ourselves a disservice when we pit organic against conventional or biotech, local against domestic or imported. There’s room at the table for all kinds of food to meet many different needs.

There’s freedom for us to learn and decide for ourselves what to eat.

You cause grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth. Psalm 104:14 NLT

Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino. Wow.

 Do you buy organic, conventional, or both? Why?

23 Comments

Filed under food & farm

Food Fright

This post was featured by BlogHer on July 17, 2012.

Something’s awry in the 630s and the 338.19s.

cauliflower

cauliflower

Recently I ventured into the 630s and 338.19s at the downtown branch of the Wichita Public Library. Those are the Dewey Decimal call numbers for farming and production.

I was looking for a book that could help me address the concerns of yet another well-intentioned friend who watched Food, Inc. and hit the panic button.

Food giant Cargill headquarters its meat operations in Wichita. Kansas ranks seventh among states for total agricultural production. You’d think this prairie town would be dyed-in-the-wool pro-ag. Not so fast.

Instead of books about the dignity of farming and food production, here’s a sample of the titles I found:

The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply–And What You Can Do About It

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American  Soil

Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization

Really?

Did you eat today? How about yesterday? Last year? Do you plan to eat again?

Did you have trouble finding food? Or did you have your choice of food at your choice of markets? Is someone preventing you from growing your own food if you want to do so?

I know your food didn’t kill you or you wouldn’t be reading this.

steak

steak

I have a child. To borrow a line of reasoning from Katie Pinke, because I have a child, do you think I abuse him? How about my dog? Do you assume I abuse her?

If you have children or animals, should I assume you abuse them? How about livestock or poultry? If a farmer raises livestock or poultry, is it a foregone conclusion that those animals are abused?

You know how I feel about milk.

Did you find insects in your produce? How about fungi on your fruit? Was your corn sweet and robust or wimpy and weedy? Was it dripping with chemicals?

Bad things happen in agriculture. There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die.

There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen at local swimming pools. And at city halls. In factories. Police departments. Schools. Daycares. Animal shelters. Fortune 500 companies. Convenience stores.

There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die. There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen, but they’re not the norm.

They’re certainly not the intention of the majority of people who work in these sectors. Crimes should be prosecuted. Innocent people shouldn’t be attacked.

Research, funding, and lifetimes of labor by dedicated farmers go into improving farming and our food. The result is one of the safest, most plentiful, least expensive food supplies in history. We have choices of what to eat.

Surely there must be something right about farming and food.

Much of what’s wrong appears to be grown and harvested on a bookshelf of misinformation. And don’t even get me started about what’s on the internet.

radicchio

radicchio

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4 NLT

The Farmer’s Song by Murray McLaughlin. Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real from a kid from the city to you.

I snapped the food photos in this post at The Fresh Market in Wichita, where conventional, organic, homegrown, and imported foods are sold from the same shelves.

What’s your take on this? What are your concerns about farming and food? What would you like to stay the same? What would you like to change? 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

30 Comments

Filed under America, food & farm