19 September 2001
Evidence abounds that organic food is safer, more nutritious, better tasting, better for the environment, and better economically for growers and producers in comparison to commercially grown and produced food. This research soundly discounts the negative myths about organic food that have been spread by the Hudson Institute's Dennis Avery, ABC 20/20's John Stossel, and others. Evidence of organic food's superiority is confirmed by Consumer Reports, the Soil Association, the Rodale Institute, Pesticide Action Network, research at Johns Hopkins and Washington State University ... the list goes on.
Unfortunately these findings have not put to rest rhetoric from some members of the organic industry who are still trying to tell "the rest of the industry" that we must not promote organic food as being better in any aspect other than benefiting the environment.
When the USDA announced approval of the final national organic standards in March 2000, then Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman made a point to appease commercial food producers by saying "Organic is a marketing tool ... Just because something is labeled as organic does not mean it is ... superior, safer or more healthy than conventional food." Not surprising coming from the USDA with its long history catering to the conventional food imitation and adulteration industry. More disturbing is that some in the organic industry have been echoing this statement.
In the September 2001 Natural Food Merchandiser Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) says "Organic is not a preventive or a cure for some disease." The article continues, "DiMatteo says organics is vulnerable when it says something is pesticide-free or healthier than conventional crops... The industry needs to speak as one voice, she says, and make the same basic, provable claims." Why would a group whose members are organic companies claim that organic food is no healthier than conventional food, given all the evidence that shows that organic food is healthier? Whatever the reason, when "organic" becomes diluted to a minimum expectation and when we are dissuaded from promoting the virtues of organic food, the quality of food labeled as organic is allowed to decline.
Organic producers' right to commercial free speech is already hampered in Britain. In 2000 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the Soil Association could not claim organic food was healthier, better for the environment, tasted better, or that organically reared animals were happier or healthier than their intensively farmed counterparts. The ASA is responsible for supervising the system applying the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion "to make sure that the public are not misled or offended by advertisements." This group can take action to have an advertisement withdrawn or changed without having to wait for a complaint. From their website: "Having advertisements stopped by the ASA can be costly for companies, both financially and in terms of their reputation."
We will also lose our right to commercial free speech in the U.S. if we are not vigilant. Backed by giant corporations, groups like the National Food Processors Association, the Hudson Institute, and the National Center for Public Policy Research are just some of the organizations that actively campaign to make people believe that organic food is no better than conventional food. The only way to protect our right to free speech is by exercising that right, now.
Of course before promoting organic food as superior, we must be sure it is true. At Eden we do this through meticulous audit trails, through residue and GEO testing, through reliance on traditional methods of conversion and fermentation rather than pharmaceutical enzymes; through "above and beyond" third party certifications including AIB/HACCP; and by knowing every field, every farmer, and their families.
If challenged to prove that organic food is safer, we can present evidence outlined by the Pesticide Action Network UK that it is safer for children and babies to eat organic food because "Latest pesticide residue results from the European Commission suggest that residue safety breaches are getting worse." We can point out that in 1997 the Consumers Union tested conventional foods and their organic counterparts, and found that "Organic fruits and vegetables have fewer pesticide residues than non-organic produce, they have lower levels of pesticides, and they have much less overall pesticide toxicity than fruits and vegetables grown with chemicals."
If challenged to prove that organic food is more nutritious we can point to studies such as "Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains" by Virginia Worthington, doctoral candidate at John Hopkins University. Her research found that "Organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops." We can also compare nutrition panels of organic food and their commercial counterpart. For example comparing a can of EDEN Organic Kidney Beans with a can of commercial kidney beans (going by USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the organic beans provide seventeen percent more protein, fifty five percent more fiber, forty two percent more calcium, forty two percent more zinc, fourteen percent more thiamin (vitamin B1), and twenty five percent more potassium. Commercial beans also have about fifty to sixty times more sodium than EDEN beans, plus refined sugar and disodium EDTA to preserve color.
If challenged to prove that organic food tastes better we can point to the recent Washington State University study in which a panel of tasters rated organic apples to be tastier and sweeter than conventional apples. We can also offer our own taste tests. (Have you ever eaten an organic carrot next to a conventional one? Organic wins every time.)
If challenged to prove that organic food is better economically for growers we can point to the above mentioned Washington State University study which concluded that organic methods of apple growing yield better profits for growers than commercial apple growing methods. We can also point to the Rodale Institute's 15 year Farming Systems Trial which showed that organic growing methods produce at least the same yields and better withstand draught thus producing greater yields in years of low rainfall compared to conventional growing methods. And we can show what we pay growers for their organic production.
Eden Foods and our suppliers; those of us who grow, produce, and eat authentically organic food, know this food is safer, more nutritious, better tasting, and superior in every way to commercially grown and produced food. As the Organic Consumers Association explains, "Of course organic food is safer and more nutritious than chemical intensive and genetically engineered agriculture's 'industrial food.' Not only does organic food contain more trace minerals and other valuable nutrients, but of course it's not laced with pesticide and drug residues, nor is it genetically engineered. And of course it's not riddled with eColi 0157, salmonella, listeria, campylobachter, or any of the other filth and pathogens which are routinely found in factory farm meat and animal products. Health and safety considerations are the major reason why 10 million consumers are buying organic food.
If we are growing and processing organic food correctly, then it is superior in every way. We should never hesitate to say it.
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