back to article Organic food offers basically no health benefit, boffins find

US medical scientists reviewing the state of knowledge on organic food have come to the conclusion that the pricey old-school grub offers no appreciable health benefits. However consumers may still wish to buy it for the purpose of promoting organic farming methods. To be certified organic, food must be produced without the use …

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Meh

Written

Written by American scientists and organisations that promote Growth Hormone in cattle and GM crops from the fattest nation in the world.

Hmmm believable.

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Re: Written

I don't see why organic food would be that different. It's the environmental arguments that have been better at convincing me to buy them. Oh course the tone of the article is that the enviromental arguements are insifficient to warrant buying organic.

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Re: Written

Indeed,

It's always been environmental considerations that have lead me to buy organic, rather than any health considerations. The one exception being carrots which are fairly famous for retaining pesticide residues in their skin, and which I'm too lazy to peel when munching on them raw.

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Re: Written

Odd assertion. The US is also the richest market for flogging 'organic' food. This is essentially the same tactic as talking about imaginary "gravy trains" when sowing doubt about climate change research. The research appears sound. Suggesting it must be the result of corruption is conspiracy theory bunkum.

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Alert

Re: Written

"However consumers may still wish to buy it for the purpose of promoting organic farming methods."

I always thought that was the main point.

Tastes the same, but results in less fish ending up all weird.

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Happy

Re: Written

"Tastes the same, but results in less fish ending up all weird."

:-) Now if that was the slogan I'd definitely buy it!

(Although my inner grammar pedant feels the need to point out that it should be 'fewer fish')

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Re: Written

I'd love to hear your reasons why GM foods are bad. So would the millions of people they've saved.

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Happy

Re: Written

'fewer fish'

I didn't like the alliteration.

Does anyone know if Lewis was beaten up by hippie kids at school or something. It seems like an almost pathological need to slam down anything slightly green...

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FAIL

Re: Written

Try reading the article. It merely confirms the British findings on organic food already published.

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Trollface

Re: Written

You provided your own answer, it's saved millions of people on this already overpopulated planet....

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WTF?

Doesn't taste the same

Maybe its the fact the root veg arriving in my weekly box come with a bit of mud on them. Possibly Lewis' sources can't taste the difference but I certainly can.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Written

this is a stupid "finding". it's framed as if people thought,previous to this scietific breakthrough, that organically grown produce was somehow packed with more wholesomely goodness. that is ridiculous! people don't trust 1st gen GMO and would prefer their produce wasn't soaked in nerve gas and don't want mustard gas runoff or it soaking into the water table. of course it's being published, it's horseshit. they know that a certain absurdly large percentage of the population is brainwashed enough not to notice that that wasn't their belief to begin with. once you see this method for what it is you will see it used everywhere. framing the debate in this fashion is used throughout dastardly media. until these people fear the people of the world/audience more than they fear their masters/advertisers/regulators they will keep pushing their lies and people will continue to be controlled.

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Not sure...

...how they were surprised to find this. Organic food and much of its associated ilk has always been a perverse "fuck you" among rich, food secure people to those in the developing world.

Really, taking hundreds of years of advancements in agriculture and junking them, while paying far higher prices than necessary to do so, is so stupid and ridiculous it pretty much makes me rage out every time I think about it. The fact that people are sufficiently clueless to wave this around almost as a badge of honour ("you *must* try this celery - it's organic!") just makes me weap for the state of our collective scientific education.

It's dangerous too, since it sows the seeds (ho ho) of general mistrust of science and particularly other advances in agricultural technologis that are often desperately needed in poorer countries.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure...

At least you won't grow tits eating organic food!

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Re: Not sure...

I think you are confusing science and engineering. Science tends towards the truth. Engineering not necessarily so.

Farming is engineering - bound by profit rather than science. At the time of the doomesday book the local area produced about 4 times as much food as it does now. Its now largely dairy and sheep - things that could turn a good profit at one time - before the all important market was hijacked.

Engineering is going to give us nitrogen producing cereals which require less fertiliser. antiSocial engineering of farmers - through the 'market' being manipulated will lead to this being planted in preference to the (very) local technique of growing peas and barley together - something that produces far more animal food that the gm equivalent can hope to produce.

Many of the advance in agriculture are highlighted by looking at one element of production - we can grow 4* as much barley suing this variety on some select soils. I been trying old pre-improvement varieties on my land and they produce almost an order of magnitude more crop than modern improved varieties - with other added benefits like a long stem which outgrows the weeds so doesn’t require the weed-killer modern 'improved' varieties do.

Yes farming methods have improved - but a lot of modern 'improvements' are made at repairing damage other 'improvements' have made.

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Re: Not sure...

"At least you won't grow tits eating organic food!"

Breaking news from AC! Sex of a person is actually down to whether or not they eat organic food rather than chomasomal difference! "Who knew?" says scientific community.

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Anonymous Coward

Science and allergies

As far as I know it has not yet been explained why so many children today are allergic to peanuts. There was a theory (perhaps since disproved) that one of the causes might be dodgy ingredients in cattle feed. That's why we gave our children only organic milk for the first six months of their lives. Is that so stupid?

Mistrust of science? Mistrust of authority is part of a scientific attitude, I'd say. Though I'm lucky in that I have several medics in the family who can answer my questions by pointing me at the actual research papers and encouraging me to read them myself ...

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Re: Science and allergies

Did you know that your wife has a supply of "organic" milk in her blouse?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Science and allergies

My favourite theory is arachis oil in nipple cream, although there's no strong evidence for it at the moment.

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@AC 08:46 Re: Science and allergies

According to one theory I read about (on the internet, so it must be true), there was a large supply of unwanted peanut oil as a by-product of peanut paste manufacture. This was incorporated into baby oil type products (since it's natural and we all know that natural products are good for you) and applied to the delicate skin of many, many babies and young children. The theory is that some component of the peanut oil was absorbed through the skin and resulted in sensitisation to that component, leading to a later allergy towards peanuts.

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MJI
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Re: Not sure...

No issue in the UK we have very high levels of control on livestock welfare

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Re: Not sure... @h4m0ny

"At least you won't grow tits eating organic food!"

Breaking news from AC! Sex of a person is actually down to whether or not they eat organic food rather than chomasomal difference! "Who knew?" says scientific community.

Read the original post. (Particularly the part where the OP doesn't mention a person's sex.) And then read up on xenoestrogens. By all means disagree about whether agrochemicals are problematic. But giving a bloke oestrogen will cause him to grow female secondary sexual characteristics.

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Re: Not sure... @h4m0ny

I was more just making a point about their assumption they were talking to a male audience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure...

But what if one is, shall we say, a laaaydeee ....., hmm? :P

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Science and allergies

I feel some double-blind testing is required. No babies of course, they can't give consent, so everyone needs to be a grown-up ;)

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Re: Science and allergies

"There was a theory (perhaps since disproved) that one of the causes might be dodgy ingredients in cattle feed."

Sounds more like a hypothesis to me.

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Re: Not sure...

As you say, science tends towards the truth. Can you elaborate on the truthiness of this statement:

I [have] been trying old pre-improvement varieties on my land and they produce almost an order of magnitude more crop than modern improved varieties

What kind of order of magnitude are we talking here? The purpose of these improved varieties is to increase yield/hectare or decrease the cost of growing a hectare (eg due to improved disease resistance, less pesticides are required). I'm surprised that you claim an unspecified large increase in yield when using non improved varieties and would like to see numbers to back it up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure... @h4m0ny

So, by your theory, everyone that has been eating any food since the 1950s should have tits, yes?

Well you know Playtex are going to be happy, who knew? ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Science and allergies

Harsh, but fair ;)

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Re: Science and allergies

"As far as I know it has not yet been explained why so many children today are allergic to peanuts."

Did your wife eat peanuts when she was pregnant? Because the advice is not to. To absolutely 100% stay away from them.

Did that advice exist 50 years ago? No. Are humans nut-gatherers? Yes, like most of our ape-like ancestors.

So the child grows up in a peanut-free environment and then, shock, horror, has a reaction to peanuts on first exposure when they are 10 or something.

And almost all peanut allergies, of any severity, can be cured by controlled, limited, measured exposure to - guess what - peanuts. The most effective treatment is to literally inject them with tiny, tiny proportions of peanut and gradually build up the dosage until they are "immune" to it. You get people going from certain-death allergies to being able to eat a small bag.

Same as just about everything else in modern life - not enough getting dirty.

Watch those parents who fuss about germs, who swipe the baby's high chair the second they drop anything, who cover their house in hand-gel, wet-wipes, antibacterial soaps, freshener sprays and all the other junk. Their kids will grow up with allergies, asthma, and a range of other conditions related to that.

Watch those parents who follow the "five second rule", and tell kids not to get muddy only when they have their best dress on. They, generally, won't.

I live with a geneticist who has to work in a cleanroom environment all day long. We don't have that crap at home because, and I quote, "your body doesn't need it, only the lab does" and too much exposure to it is what breeds all the bad reactions and poor immune systems. Even an antibacterial handsoap is enough to provoke a rant when we're out. Want to wash your hands? Cold water. Out of a tap, or rub them in the rain. I had to explain to my little'un lately that rain is probably cleaner than anything that comes out of a tap (when was the last time you flushed your water pipes with their manky corroding copper and leakage into the soil?) - they spent the next five minutes "washing my hands in the rain, daddy" and splashing in puddles. Yes, we all got soaked and needed a change of clothes when we got home to feel comfortable. No, none of us died.

A lot of modern "diseases" are down to modern thinking. When was the last time you let your kids get muddy or roll through a field of grass? Now when was the last time they exhibited symptoms of hayfever, asthma, etc.?

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Alert

Re: Not sure...

"Organic food and much of its associated ilk has always been a perverse "fuck you" among rich, food secure people to those in the developing world."

So, a bit like spraying treated drinking water over cars and lawns, then?

Or recycling the containers of luxury goods.

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Re: Science and allergies

"Is that so stupid?"

It's exactly the kind of superstition I would expect from a Guardian reader.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure...

Same people :P

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Re: Not sure...

"But what if one is, shall we say, a laaaydeee ....., hmm? :P"

Then excess oestrogen will interfere with fertility. It will not, as far as I am aware, result in giant, gravity-defying breasts. Sorry to disappoint.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Science and allergies

I don't suppose there is an official rule for what constitutes organic human milk, but I think that the rules for organic cows' milk require the cows' feed to be grown without fertilisers, etc, so presumably human breast milk would only count as organic if the woman eats only organic food? And doesn't take drugs?

(Of course it would be madness to give a baby organic cows' milk in preference to non-organic human milk.)

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Boffin

Re: Science and allergies

Very funny... Unfortunately, it's been shown that breast milk is often contaminated by the chemical load in the mother's body.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Science and allergies

Re: Science and allergies

Did you know that your wife has a supply of "organic" milk in her blouse?

Only if she is eating organic

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Re: perverse "fuck you" (?)

http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years

'Nuff said...

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Re: Not sure...

If you think non-organic food will make you grow tits, then you are a tit.

Growing tits on men is pretty much caused by body fat. The reason more men have tits these days? A higher proportion of the population is fatter than it was in the past.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: perverse "fuck you" (?)

Ahh, Mr Rodale, the main US (self-)promoter of "organic", who died of a heart attack on the set of a TV program being filmed, just after proclaiming that he was so healthy that he was going to live to 100 unless he was mown down by a sugar-crazed taxi-driver. Not quite sure what he had against taxi drivers or sugar, mind ;)

Also, apparently offered other people asparagus boiled in (whose?) urine. Mmmm yummy.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/when-that-guy-died-on-my-show/

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Simple tool to determine the quality of food

Use your taste buds. It's been honed in some process called evolution to tell you whether the food is any good for you. Caveats apply concerning processed foods such as sugar, glutamate, etc..

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Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

Quite right. Not all foods benefit from organic production, but I can certainly taste the difference in tomatoes and in milk. If you can't taste the difference then stick with the non-organic produce.

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Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

"sugar, glutamate..."

salt, saturated fats, excess meat, carcinogenic fried foods, various sweet tasting but poisonous berries, a wide range of mushrooms that taste no different to regular mushrooms... in fact, actually don't just use your taste buds. Use learning and research.

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JDX
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Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

No. Precisely because of how evolution works, your taste buds have not caught up with artificial fertilisers, etc. If fact they probably haven't even caught up with farming, full stop, and are still living in hunter-gatherer times.

There's some evidence your body can crave foods based on what's in them, but detecting trace amounts of some chemical which could build up over the years and cause long-term harm - no.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

Plus, artificial fertilisers are simply the elements the plant actually needs, without added "benefits" like E-Coli, and remnants of the animal's intestines. You think hydroponics need the occasional turd thrown in to make it work properly? ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "the elements the plant actually needs, without added "benefits" like E-Coli"

I recall lots of UK outbreaks of E Coli in recent years.

I recall lots of them being traced back to poor (industrial style) farming husbandry and similar practices. You will see this if you look.

Does anybody anywhere recall any of them being traced back to organic farming practices? Pointers welcome (especially for the German outbreak which was originally blamed on organic lettuce but that explanation was later proved wrong????)

[Yes I'm aware that there are fewer organic farms than non-organic, and of the statistical effect that would have]

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FAIL

Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

Good luck with that. Deadly Nightshade berries are delicious.

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Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

"I can certainly taste the difference"

Fancy taking a blind taste test?

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Unhappy

Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

My taste-buds tell me bacon sandwiches are good for me...

.. my doctor tells me otherwise

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple tool to determine the quality of food

Yup, and same varieties of tomato. No cheating with super-tasty mutants out of Thompson & Morgan catalogue !

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