Organic's Not Good For Me?

Did you know that organic food is actually no healthier nor more nutritional than conventionally-grown food? (Somewhere, in Santa Monica, a baby is crying in the humid night.) Jenny Goldstein has the whole story at Earth Matters, but she adds a helpful (and perhaps hopeful?) note:
But more importantly, I think this is an opportunity for us to refocus, reclaim even, the discussion surrounding organic agriculture. It needs to be about the earth, not just about the produce that it yields and the vitamins we’re ingesting. We absolutely are paying for something, if not the guarantee that those organic grapes have more antioxidants than their pesticide-coated cousins. It’s a public good that we’re paying for with that label, a shot at staving off the depletion of our soil and water resources by entrusting farmers to use these organic production methods. Allowing organic food to be spun otherwise — even by the organic food marketers themselves — could prove to be much more dangerous to our, and the planet’s, health than that so-called nutrient-deficient organic banana you’re reaching for.
What she argues, in other words, is that we need to re-frame how we think about what "organic" means. It's not just a status symbol to eat organically grown food - it's making a larger statement about the world. I added my own brief thoughts to the end of her post, writing:
And then something else to add: How are you/we/they conceptualizing "health"? If you imagine that "health" is something that a discrete, individual, and clearly bounded individual can have (and has a right to?), then it might be possible to argue in some reductive way that eating organic is just the same as eating non-organic. But I also think that way of conceptualizing health - kind of the same way that we could calories - ignores the way in which health can (and should) be conceptualized as something that doesn't stop at the skin. I think Nick's work on the "extensible body" is really good in this respect, insofar as he's trying to think of ways in which the scale of the "healthy body" has changed dramatically. And I think that your last paragraph is spot on - one of the things that organic food offers is a way to frame our eating as something other than an individual act. Whether we like it or not, eating is always public. Right?
For Jenny's full post, look here.


Jordan M said…
I kinda skipped this topic before but thought I'd chime in with: I always thought the purpose of organic food was that it was grown / raised in ways that didn't use pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I've never even considered the argument of the nutritional value of the food. All I know is that it is usually a) locally-grown, b) better for the environment and c) generally tastes better.

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