" Is Organic Food Worth the Price? Americans are among the most starved people on this planet - the issue, "My Secret Life as a Farmer
- main article of the issue, <http://www.purewatergazette.net/secret.htm> "My
Secret Life as a Farmer," is recommended
Is Organic Food Worth the Price?
By Gene Franks
Americans are among the most starved people on this planet. In spite of all
the chemical supplements and new foods, we are living on a diet that is
deficient in the essential factors of life. We have an epidemic of extreme
malnutrition and a nation where over 65% of the American people are
chronically ill. Our diet lacks the vital force of the more primitive basic
The Gazette challenges readers to learn more about food. Survival in our age
of high-tech misinformation requires, in fact, that we become passionate
amateurs in the art of feeding ourselves. Allowing food industry
professionals to make food choices for us is not only unwise and
unhealthy--it is positively boring. Nourishing our bodies is one of life's
basic pleasures. Procuring and preparing food should occupy a larger share
of our time and get a larger share of our resources. Eating well is fun, and
we should indulge ourselves in excellent foods.
The degree to which we can indulge ourselves in food, of course, depends
upon our individual resources. I confess that this article will not solve
the problems of the very poor, who are required by necessity to settle for
the less expensive foods, just as they settle for less in other areas of
life. I know no cure for this. But everyone, even those who cannot buy
organically grown produce, can eat as well as their resources allow.
Potatoes cost less than potato chips; yams cost less than Snickers bars;
excellently filtered water costs far less than sodas.
A big part of the American food myth is that food should be cheap. It should
not. Food should, in fact, get top billing on our list of spending
priorities. To buy cheap food in order to afford an expensive lawnmower
demonstrates a perverted value system.
Organically grown foods are among the items many view as unaffordable. This
is the narrow view of the issue, based only on the purchase price. John
Ruskin, an English thinker and artist so famous they named a cigar after
him, pointed out that when an item purchased for what seems a low price
fails to fulfill the need it was intended for, the purchaser has not saved
money but has in fact wasted the full purchase price. Because of our
food-should-be-cheap conditioning, an organically grown tomato may seem
expensive; but a delicious, locally grown, fresh-from-the-garden,
chemical-free tomato is a great bargain when compared with the tasteless,
ether-reddened blob of mush offered at half the price by the Killer Tomato
The reasons for buying organic food are many. Some that are often mentioned
(this listing is indebted to the Spring 1992 issue of Organic Times) are the
protection of children (they are more vulnerable than adults to pesticide
poisoning); prevention of soil erosion (perhaps our most severe problem in
the long run); the protection of water quality (pesticides, herbicides, and
commercial fertilizers are formidable water contaminants); energy savings
(organic farming is essentially labor intensive, while conventional farming
is one of our major energy wasters); prevention of chemical poisoning of
farm workers (remember Cesar Chavez); helping small farmers (organic farming
favors the small producer, while conventional farming is designed to
eliminate family farms and put all land in the hands of large corporate
"farmers"); support of a true economy (although organic foods might appear
more expensive, we, as taxpayers, pay dearly for the pollution cleanup,
pesticide testing, irrigation projects, soil depletion, hazardous waste
disposal, farm subsidies, etc. resulting from conventional agriculture);
promotion of biodiversity (the disastrous practice of monocropping is the
hallmark of meat-based conventional agriculture); and, certainly not least
important, the provision of more nutritious, better-tasting food.
Although organically grown produce has shown itself repeatedly to be
superior to conventionally grown food in "food chart" nutrients, there are
certainly intangible nutritional benefits not yet recognized or measurable.
Nutrition is a science in its infancy. In spite of the know-it-all posture
assumed by many nutrition professionals, most university "nutrition science"
is more theory than fact. As a single example, consider the broad
disagreement among experts on the very basic question of whether or not the
body assimilates inorganic minerals from water.
One of the intangible "ingredients" that makes organic food much superior to
conventional is what some writers have called "information." Homeopathy
should have taught us by now that there are unseen, intangible essences at
work in nature that defy explanation by orthodox material science. Although
no one has explained it, information, the wisdom of the soil, the wisdom of
billions of years of experience, takes on physical substance in food grown
under natural conditions. It is like spirit becoming flesh.
According to nutrition writer John David Mann, ancient foods like naturally
grown microalgae are rich in information. "A food that goes back over four
billion years," he writes, "clearly has a rich store of valuable genetic
information." Other writers have speculated on how this ancient information
is passed to food consumers. Orthodox Science, our nation's leading
religion, scoffs because it cannot explain the mechanism, just as it
initially scoffed at belief in roundness of the planet and the circulation
Mann says that organically grown foods are information rich: "Beyond their
mere avoidance of chemicals, they contain the value of the skill and
craftsmanship of their production; the care taken to preserve the soil on
which they're grown; the traditional methods they embody; the preservation
of genetic diversity; and even the social value of the small-scale,
family-farm economy that underpins their production."
The importance of eating food that has been grown in real soil, or in pure,
natural water in the case of algae, rather than the chemically created
artificial growing surface of conventional farming is that soil imparts its
information to the plant. Genuine organic soil is not only rich in trace
elements not available to commercially grown plants, but also in
micro-organisms which, the old Roman poet Lucretius reminded us, "hand on
the torch of life, like runners in a race," passing on from generation to
generation the wisdom of the soil and the experience of the ages. It is
through the living soil and through the ancient plants that grow in it that
we are rooted to the earth. "The statement that the earth is our mother,"
writes Nobel laureate Rene Dubos, "is more than a sentimental platitude,
since . . . we are shaped by the earth. The characteristics of the
environment in which we develop condition our biological and mental being
and the quality of our life. Were it only for selfish reasons, therefore, we
must maintain variety and harmony in nature."
No mater how much USDA would deny it, a tomato grown from an heirloom seed
in rich, chemical-free soil, nourished by natural light, clean water, and a
full complement of micro-organisms and trace minerals, has valuable
information and other intangible benefits that can never be listed in
Handbook 8. That its monetary cost should be greater makes sense.
Editor: This article appeared initially in Gazette #45. The main article of
the issue, <http://www.purewatergazette.net/secret.htm> "My Secret Life as
a Farmer," is recommended.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- The nutritional value of organically grown food isn't in question. But to
perpetuate the myth that organic has to cost more to grow and cost more to
buy only keeps organic marginalized and guarantees it's beyond the reach of
most consumers living payday to payday. When organic growers learn to grow
sustainably without using fossil fuel machinery and excessive water and
labor, then their costs will come down along with their prices. All the
methods to accomplish this have long been demonstrated.
*********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********
On 1/19/2007 at 10:28 AM Alberto Machado wrote:
>main article of the issue, <http://www.purewatergazette.net/secret.htm>
>Secret Life as a Farmer," is recommended
>Is Organic Food Worth the Price?
>By Gene Franks
- It's probably clear to everyone here, but until people realize that
when they buy out of season produce that's either grown in a green
house or halfway across the world(both green houses and shipping are
costly)...they're gonna pay a pretty penny for this food organic or
not. The problem now is the huge corporate food suppliers hijacking
the word "organic". Now Walmart is jumping on the bandwagon to
sell "organic" food products becoming the largest supplier of organic
milk among other organic products. Most of this organic food will be
imported from China, Sierra Leone, or Brazil(places where standards
will be hard to enforce, not to mention living and working
conditions). Farmers as well as consumers need to be conscious of
these factors. It's far less expensive to produce in-season crops
and sell them locally as well as more profitable to the farmer to
sell his/her goods directly to the consumer. We all have to
embrace "buy local, buy fresh, and buy in-season". More importantly,
I think that nutrient dense foods should be sought after. High Brix
foods...foods that are nutrient dense taste good. Not even all
organic produce is nutrient dense or actually taste good for that
matter. I've had organically grown fruits and veggies that just
plain taste bad, bitter-like with an almost chemical taste to them.
When crops are grown in truly fertile/bioactive soil...there's no
pest/disease problems...therefore less financial input.
Agrochemicals/fertilers can account for 20-30% or higher for most
conventional farmers. Most organic farmers use some sort of organic
fertilizers...not to mention expensive specialized equipment like
combines, harvesters, etc. If farmers could put more faith in the
methods of fukuoka style farming...that would also have a tremendous
effect on costs/prices. Initially...they might have poor yields but
a lot of money would be saved by eliminating
other "conventional/organic" capital investments.