discussed some of the ways in which purchasing organic food doesn't always guarantee sustainable production or that it will be a healthy meal.Last December, I
Last week, a more extreme version of this line of thinking appeared in Scientific American. Its author, Christie Wilcox, argued that the organic industry was disseminating "propaganda" regarding production techniques, and she was out to set the record straight. Her claims were that: 1) organic farms use pesticides, 2) organic foods are not healthier, 3) GMOs are vital to environmentally friendly production and are necessary to feed a growing global population, and 4) organic production should not be an all-or-nothing question.
Despite an early disclaimer in the piece that she is "not saying organic farming is bad,"she touched off a pretty lively debate. Among those responding to the piece was Matthew Yglesias, who suggested that greater USDA oversight of organic pesticide use would be prudent. Other responses were not so kind - bloggers Tom Laskawy and Tom Philpott took issue with her presentation of the academic literature and were particularly bothered by her claims regarding the nutritional value of organic produce and the promise of GMOs.
It's a fascinating debate if you have time to wade through the data-laden articles. If not, I think it's fair to say that a good takeaway from it all is this: organic production is a good place to start, but it isn't sufficient to guarantee sustainability or a healthy diet.
At Farmscape, this sentiment strongly informs our practices. The most common "pesticide" that we regularly apply in gardens is diluted soap, and we prefer hand-picking and leaf removal to spraying. We provide recipes to utilize produce from the garden that highlight the natural flavors of the produce, which means they tend to be lighter in salts and fats (with some exceptions - I can't get enough of Julia's beet cake). Finally, we do our best to track the cradle-to-cradle environmental impact - measured by carbon emissions and water use - of our produce relative to conventionally grown vegetables.
If you have any questions about our production practices, don't hesitate to ask us.
Picture from Flickr user swanksalot. Creative Commons.