Wicked Cool World of Organics - Edition 63

This week's dose of organic headlines, updates, resources, goodies, and recipes courtesy of dsnodgrass...

Findings of a new study were released which make for a level of sensationalism in the headlines, suggesting that there is no benefit to eating organic foods versus conventionals, but what look at what's not addressed in the study.


This is a stunning and perhaps irresponsible omission in any attempt to determine - as the researchers have attempted - whether there are health benefits to eating organic foods versus conventionals.

No Evidence Organic Foods Benefit Health

The judge in that case has issued his decision, and it's a mixed bag. In essence, the judge appears to be aiming for a compromise position which looks to give farmers who are growing genetically modified sugar beets the time frame of a growing season to convert to non-gm crops.
Moreover, they found, what studies have been done have largely focused on short-term effects of organic eating -- mainly antioxidant activity in the body -- rather than longer-term health outcomes. And most of the antioxidant studies failed to find differences between organic and conventional diets.

A "disappointingly small" number of well-designed studies have looked at whether organic foods may have health benefits beyond their conventional counterparts', according to the review, by researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in the UK.


While questions remain as to whether organic foods have any extra nutritional value, people buy organic for a number of other reasons as well.

Organic foods are made without the use of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones -- which could potentially reap benefits for people's health and the environment. 

The current review, (study researcher Dr. Alan D.) Dangour and his colleagues point out, did not look for studies on the possible health benefits of reduced exposure to those substances. Nor did it address the environmental impact of organic food production.

Emphasis added.

Sam Fromartz.

Tracking the trends at Sustainable Foods Institute

For a few years, I’ve attended the Sustainable Foods Institute, an annual conference at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s one of those rare events that brings together a cross-section of scientists, journalists, chefs, food producers and businesses to discuss the food system -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- with an eye on fixing it. 

A lot of common themes come up, but each year I find I get a valuable nugget from someone who brings up something really new, or is doing something surprising.

This year, a couple of really stood one. One was the Wholesome Wave Foundation, whose mission is to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into underserved, low-income communities at an affordable price. The group does so by doubling the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) coupons, an especially valuable task at a time when the recession is still running deep. So if a customer has $5 in SNAP food vouchers, they can buy $10 worth of produce.

I heard Michel Nischan, the chef behind the effort, speak about this two years ago. At the time, he had a model farmers market in Connecticut where he was showing some success, with the market getting a steady stream of customers. But what really surprised me was how much the organization has grown since then, expanding into 18 states and more than 160 markets. Right now, the money to double the coupons’ value is coming from private donors, but Nischan said local government is stepping in as well.

He also disabused two widely accepted notions -- that poor people don’t want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and there is no economic value for businesses in these communities. Instead, these communities are generating income for farmers and getting produce they might not otherwise afford.

New Food-Safety Rules Threaten Small, Organic Farms 

(Tom) Willey and his wife, Densesse, own an organic farm just outside of Madera in the central San Joaquin Valley, where they grow lettuce, carrots, cabbage and nearly 50 other hand-harvested vegetables. They supply 800 local families and West Coast retailers with a year-round supply of fresh produce.

But in the last three years, a dark cloud has gathered over Willey's farm. He and other organic farmers say stricter food-safety regulations, developed after a cluster of outbreaks of bacterial contamination in spinach and lettuce in 2006, threaten the principles upon which their farms are based.

While Willey already adheres to the voluntary food-safety regulations deemed necessary by the organic farm community, he feels that many of the rules — which include cutting bare buffer zones around crops, using poison to kill rodents and washing produce with chlorinated water — run contrary to growing healthy and safe food.

"Healthy produce cannot be grown in sterile environments," Willey said. "That's both ignorant and dangerous."

Moreover, opponents of the regulations say that the new measures are threatening the livelihood of small-scale and organic farms. Willey, who refuses to adhere to regulations he believes are ultimately harmful, runs the risk of not being able to sell his crops. Other small farms that do comply face burdensome costs.


Great recipe here for homemade Garrett Juice organic fertilizer.

Mix the following in a gallon of water.

Garrett Juice (ready to spray):
1 cup compost tea
1 ounce molasses
1 ounce natural apple cider vinegar
1 ounce liquid seaweed

For Garrett Juice Plus and more fertilizer value add: 
1- 2 ounces of liquid fish (fish hydrolysate) per gallon of spray.

For disease and insect control add:
¼ cup garlic tea or
¼ cup garlic/pepper tea
or 1 - 2 ounce of orange oil


Related Reading:

Female Farmers Overcome Barriers to Feed Africa
Nanotechnology in Our Food

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  • Posted on May 28, 2010. Listed in:

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