Consumer Reports Fell Into The Trap Of Telling People To Eat Organic

ConsumerReportsPesticidesI’m reading this right now and I have my head in my hands. It’s so depressing.

Consumer Reports, Food Safety & Sustainability Center: From Crop To Table, Pesticide Use In Produce (pdf)

They just don’t see it. So many people don’t see it. Organic (or the latest form of this: ‘sustainable’) for the rich and conventional for everyone else is not the way to fix things. We have to fix everyone’s food, not create some esoteric “pure” food for the minority of people who have access to it. People in care homes, schools, hospitals, the elderly, the poor … these groups eat, by-and-large, conventional food. I would venture that most people eat, by-and-large, conventional food … because that’s what there is to eat!

Telling people they are going to get sick eating conventional food …

A 2015 study found that people who ate conventionally grown produce had high concentrations of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in their urine, and people who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower levels.

A 2006 study found that levels of two organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of children fell to undetectable levels when the children were switched to an organic diet.

A 2010 study suggests that children with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in their urine are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

… is like telling people who live in a city with a lot of air pollution that they are going to get sick and they should choose to breathe cleaner air. What’s their choice?

Right. Well, here are Consumer Reports’ tips on how to access organic food:

  • Buy whole foods and process at home.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Buy at a farm or farmer’s market.
  • And the most ridiculous way they say to access organic? “Replace processed snack foods with organic fruits and vegetables.” Yes, just buy organic. Just breath that fresh non-polluted air.

These tips work for people who already have good access to organic. But I’ve written quite a bit about why they fail for many, especially for the most vulnerable who have the hardest time accessing organic foods. When you’re a single parent (or not) working two jobs (or not) you don’t have time to cook from scratch at home. Frail elderly don’t have the energy. When you take public transportation to a big grocery store, you can’t carry pounds of apples, oranges, and carrots home on the bus. There are few, if any, farms and farmers’ markets in low-income urban environments. And if someone else is feeding you, say you live in a nursing home, you really don’t have a choice.

If it’s so easy to eat organic food, why aren’t most people eating it?

We need to, bit by bit, use fewer chemicals in conventional food production. Less polluted air for everyone is better than clean air for a few and polluted air for everyone else.

One thought on “Consumer Reports Fell Into The Trap Of Telling People To Eat Organic

  1. Bix Post author

    I know people who are older, who no longer drive, who don’t own cars. They catch a ride to the supermarket or they take public transportation. They are on fixed incomes. How do they get to a farmers’ market? There aren’t any around here to begin with. How do they “buy in bulk?” Carry pounds of produce home?

    Good food, “organic” food if you will, should be the standard, available to everyone. It should be the default. It shouldn’t be so exclusive.

    Reply

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