organic food?

my question is about organic food versus the food in general supermarkets/shops.

(forenote: I have only been to 2 skeptics in wgtn meetups in last year/s due to my difficult situation/condition.)

in the last skeptics meetup i went to (the planning activism one) i remember someone mentioning organic food as one of their skeptical "woos".

years and years ago i was skeptical of organic food considering it grown in body waste products.

however in the last year(s) i have switched to prefering organic to nonorganic food due to concerns about health (incl balding) and problems with non-organic food :
- farmers spray fruit etc (from the "first spray")
- supermarkets spray the fruit etc to keep it fresh
- growth hormones in pig meat, chicken, etc
etc.

However sometimes i have noticed that organic shop food also seems questionable itself, but unfortunately i am not in a situation or condition to be able to have a graden and to grow my own food (or find a "urban farming" or communal garden situation). Organic eggs were the worst of all being very runny. [I buy free range eggs but have found they always seem to be runny with organic the worst, the only ones that aren't so bad are spca uncaged eggs.]
Some organic food definately seems better (eg bananas, some nuts, etc).

anyway after that long explantation my question is just that i'm wondering what that persons &/or other sceptics own views/info on organic (and on non-organic) food is?

Its a pain that there is no organic shop in Upper Hutt (while i am still stuck here) only in Wgtn or LH. Apparrently in UK they have organic sections in supermarkets.
I find it very hard to feel able to buy much food in normal supermarkets and struggling not to be malnourished/deficient/thin. When I saw LH hospital nutritionist they just said "oh well its worse to be not getting enough variety food than the things you are worried about" which annoyed me because its like no one cares about my valid concerns (eg I don't eat tinned/canned food anymore due to cadmium poisoning, etc).

thanks,
SeanB. (lifetraditon.webs.com)

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My take on it is that it's an

My take on it is that it's an expensive consumer rip-off.

Typically organic food tends to be considered "all natural", which is a logical fallacy right there. Cyanide is natural but I doubt I'll ever see someone pushing the "it has to be good because it's natural" argument willing to down a spoonful.

In double blind tests organic food has been well established to have taste and texture that is no better or worse than it's conventionally farmed counterpart.

There is a distinct lack of reliable studies that prove any nutritional benefit to organically produced food over food raised in a more modern manner.

Another aspect that sticks with me is that it effectively discards hundreds of years of progress in agriculture, biology and chemistry.

The final point I'll add is that organic farming methods tend to have a higher carbon footprint and much lower yield per acre than modern conventional farming.

Gold's is my take as well.

To add to this I also understand that organic farms ban (specifically) synthetic pesticides, the farmers are still allowed to use 'natural' pesticides. Moreover because these natural pesticides aren't as effective as the synthetic ones farmers need to use more (this is speaking generally - there are likely specific farms whose practices differ) and they are generally more harmful than the current state of the art synthetic pesticides.

Having said that I understand there are places (I think I'm right in saying some subsistence places in Africa) where organic farming is better (in terms of yield per acre) than the norm. But it's because the community can't afford the state of the art stuff cos they aren't dealing in a large enough volume for it to be worthwhile. The danger naturally then becomes what happens if that situations changes and all of a sudden they're stubbornly sticking to an ideology rather than doing what's best in the specific circumstances.

Sean. The fact that you are

Sean. The fact that you are not numbered in the billion or so humans that cannot obtain even the most basic of nutritional requirements that we take for granted should be of some consolation. To be in the position of being well nourished enough (I am assuming and hoping for a little hyperbole on your part about malnutrition) to reject the food options you feel confronted with is a boon not a curse.

I agree with Gold that organic food is largely illusory and agree with the nutritionist that you should concentrate on getting good nutrition first and foremost.

If you are finding your health is suffering and you are getting anxious about food then you really should talk to someone with professional knowledge. Seeking info on forums (even ones that claim to be unbiased) is no substitute. Your GP may be a good start.

I think if you find it

I think if you find it difficult, try my tip - eat fruits and vegetables while in season and if you want good produce and a good bang for your buck see if there is a farmers market near you where they bring in fresh produce. If you are concerned about nutritional quality, we are hopeless at gardening, but also this season we've bought parsley, tomato, strawberry plants etc - all of which can be grown in pots. That might be something you can try out, just get some pots and potting mix and go for it.

I'd second Rob, if you have concerns go and see your GP or a dietician who can address them. Also try thinking more positively about things and trying to get everything more in perspective. While you've possibly got some valid concerns there I can't help noting you say 'balding' in the context of health and given that is a genetic trait that really shouldn't be troubling you or causing you worries about your nutrition. Nothing you eat is going to 'cause' it as such, and it probably would help a lot to let go of the things that really aren't a problem and instead focus on the things that you can realistically do a bit of work on.

That being said, the whole organic thing is more about marketing a product than anything else. I don't have much concern about things like growth hormone as I don't believe it's used here, nor do NZ farmers routinely give anti-biotics to stock. I also think that what they spray on fruit and veges in the supermarket is simply water to keep the plants moist so that's another concern you can put to rest. With agricultural pest control, they do have strict rules as to when and where it can be used and limits on any residues. In most cases, even if present, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetable before eating would work to solve the problem. I'd be more concerned about e-coli risk from organic veges myself, as they fertilise with manure than any other risk that might be present.

Regarding Cadmium, the information I can source state "Cadmium concentrations are relatively low in New Zealand soils and food safety officials have estimated that the amount of cadmium in the diet of the average New Zealander is at a level far below that which would cause adverse health effects." http://www.maf.govt.nz/environment-natural-resources/soil-and-nutrients so canned foods of themselves probably don't need to be avoided, especially as it's being monitored. I think the times you need to worry is when you eat very large amounts of shellfish (this is from memory), but at the amounts people would generally eat (like 3-4 mussels) at one sitting this normally would not pose a problem. So I'll just say again, it's a matter of putting it into perspective, realistically it's simply impossible to avoid coming into contact with various substances out there in the environment but the old adage is true "the dose makes the poison" and if at very low levels there is no need to cut out foods out of your diet which can cause problems of itself.

thanks for your responses!

Thank-you for the good, interesting and helpful ideas/info from each of you 3!

There are just one or two points I would debate:

- I've tried GPs/doctors/("professionals") but they never been very good or much good for me, and the hospital dietician/nutritionist wasn't really very great either.

- I disagree that "balding is genetic". That is what everyone is made to believe that it is (just) genetic & race & age & gender[& climate]. But fact is why are half the men in NZ bald(ing) and shaving their heads? (I mean I think its a combination: that the "genetic" still has to be brought out by environment. Note some people bald on top at back, some on sides, and some in front middle above forehead.) I have compiled i list of dozens of possible "causes"/contributors/exasperpators (including heavy metals in water, sodium/chloride/fluoride in water, growth hormones, sprays/pesticides, dye in "made to fade" clothes, anxiety, etc). I may post a split topic/thread for that subject. Though I know it is an ages old problem as it was around in Classical/Roman times for example (Herodotus mentions it). Mine even seems to get worse in day/s.

I have seen farmers market here in Upper Hutt on sat or sun but the way they set it up i feel too nervous! (i stil have some social anxiety/etc.)

Oh, the cadmium concern of mine is not about the soil but about the cadmium/etc in tins/cans which the food absorbs. I have been better since avoiding tinned/canned food (along with other changes).

The "lack of studies" is always something which annoys me....

Afterwards i remembered something i read on a site called "spam filters for your brain".

Sean.

Have to congratulate you

Have to congratulate you on making it to meetings, hopefully you'll be able to keep on doing so.

Sorry, male pattern balding is genetic. To be more precise, it's one dominant autosomal gene that controls male pattern baldness. http://www.ehow.com/about_5095765_baldness-genetic.html probably is a good enough coverage of the topic. It might be easier to point to a lot of other random things that could be more controllable, but ultimately your genetics and the interaction of them with your body is something that can't be readily controlled. I just think it better if a person is having health problems to concentrate on what you can feasibly manage or change, rather stressing about the stuff where it's unlikely you can change things and it's really not worth the time and energy spent on them. I'm a little concerned that if the focus is wrong, you might be missing the forest for the trees so to speak and focusing on the wrong things can hinder or prevent working through the real health problems you might be facing.

I'm also a bit doubtful about claims of absorption of cadmium from tins of themselves, any metals are much more likely to be present in the foods themselves naturally, just from glancing through the literature available on an internet search. Unfortunately, the reality is that cadmium, let alone other metals, is present in our environment and have always been. It's more a matter of managing it and making sure any present that we come into contact with isn't anywhere near what could cause toxicity. Our bodies have good systems for dealing with contaminants and we can cope with small amounts, so a bit of pragmatism is called for in this case. There might even be some evidence coping with these things in small amounts can actually be helpful, as the principle of hormesis says that there is a dose response, and toxins and other stressors may trigger our bodies own repair mechanisms and this can also repair other low-level damage that might have accumulated.

When it comes to spam filters, create your own and don't rely on what others are telling you unless you can satisfy for yourself that the information that you are reading (or being told) is correct, valid and relevant to the topic (basically skills not of *what* to think, but *how* to think). One thing being involved in scepticism can do is help you develop critical thinking skills, and through that you can analyse and evaluate information and work through whether it is valid.Try and do a general search on that topic, then perhaps peruse some sceptic blogs and other sources of information.= For instance, you might like to look at the "Science Based Medicine" blog and see whether there is any topic useful there: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ Some of it may be challenging even, but worth a read and they do cover a huge range of topics.

Ah yes "Spam filters for your

Ah yes "Spam filters for your Brain" by Mike Adams the self professed "Health Ranger". http://www.amazon.com/Spam-Filters-Your-Brain-ebook/dp/B001FB695I

That book is a lesson in, at best, hypocrisy and at worst cynical manipulation of the vulnerable for profit.

His online empire encompasses the full gambit of woo from "Emergent vibrational technologies" to banned known toxic products (with a history of serious patient injury) such as "Miracle Mineral Supplement" (bleach) and anti vaccination hysteria which is a delusional belief system with much blood on it's hands.

Sean if you are of a nervous disposition I can fully understand the tendency to distrust those who are in positions of power. But alas one of the biggest and saddest ironies is that those who pretend to be "saviours of the sick" and holders of the "real/one truth" are usually the least honest and most unscrupulous. Often those drawn to alt med are suffering from conditions that are difficult to diagnose or treat, have been suffering for a while and are lured by the false certainty of those who can smell an easy dollar.

Yes conventional medicine has made mistakes but when treatments are proven to be ineffective or harmful they are stopped (and something is learnt). When was the last time you heard of an alt med practitioner voluntarily dropping a treatment modality due to insufficient evidence of effect or because of potential patient harm?

You may be able to draw upon many examples cited in books like these of Mike Adams and the examples given may seem compelling but with closer critical examination of the claims.. the plausibility just fades away.

If you could post what you feel to be the absolute knockdown claims that have convinced you and if you are open to discuss them with us that would be great.

Cheers
Rob