• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Science Debunks The Organic Fantasy Garden


Apr 3, 2005

Science Debunks the Organic Fantasy Garden
By Alex B. Berezow & Tom Hartsfield

A familiar dilemma: to grab the allegedly wholesome, overpriced carton of berries under the halogen bulbs of the organic section, or to trudge back to the corporate produce aisle and pick up a batch of the less beautiful regular ones in a bag for half the price?

Organic activists say the outrageous cost is worth it. According to them, organic food is more nutritious, better for public health, environmentally friendlier, and even tastier than conventional food.

Science, on the other hand, has something entirely different to say: Go for the cheap stuff. It’s just as good as organic food.

Let’s examine each of the claims routinely made by organic supporters. How do they measure up scientifically?

Claim #1: Organic food is more nutritious.

A peer-reviewed research study published Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine, one of the top medical journals in the world, addressed this claim. The study found that organic foods are not more nutritious than conventional food. Organic food has more phosphorous, but the regular stuff already contains enough to satisfy our dietary requirement.

“Bias!” we hear the organic activists shouting. But this study received no outside funding. They can’t blame Monsanto for this one.

In defiance of this study, Brian Fung writing in The Atlantic defended organic food, anyway. Contrary to highly visible marketing campaigns, he says that organic food was never about being more nutritious. Instead, it is about better public health and friendly environmental practices. Is he right?

Claim #2: Organic food is better for public health.

This is both true and false. First, the true part.

On one (and only one) claim, organic supporters are correct. Organic food is produced without using antibiotics in livestock feed, and this is good for public health. Because inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance, microbiologists endorse not using them in animal feed. Indeed, the above study concluded that conventional foods were much likelier to contain bacteria with resistance to multiple antibiotics.

Now, the false part. Activists claim that organic food is also better for public health because it has less pesticide residue. While organic foods indeed contain less residue, there is no reason to believe that this is a problem in the first place. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Toxicology concluded that “exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides...pose negligible risks to consumers.”

Claim #3: Organic food is better for the environment.

Not necessarily true, concludes a brand new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Environmental Management. The study found:
...that organic farming practices generally have positive impacts on the environment per unit of area, but not necessarily per product unit. Organic farms tend to have higher soil organic matter content and lower nutrient losses (nitrogen leaching, nitrous oxide emissions and ammonia emissions) per unit of field area. However, ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems. Organic systems had lower energy requirements, but higher land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit.

Organic farms are inefficient and have crop yields substantially lower than those of conventional farms. They cannot produce food efficiently enough and at a price that most people in the world can afford to pay. That is why Nature News reported earlier this year that the planet’s population could not be fed on organic food alone.

Claim #4: Organic food is tastier.

There is not a lot of data on this issue, but at least one taste test conducted by a consumer watch group concluded that organic food was not tastier. Ever heard a friend rave about how much better non-irradiated blueberries are? Remember that taste is highly subjective and not immune to marketing.

On the whole, science has soured on the promises of organic food. While it is good practice not to use antibiotics in livestock feed, the rest of the claims made by the “natural food movement” simply don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Organic farmers and ranchers are not saving the world, one apple and one pasture at a time. So, don’t buy into the scare tactics or the bromides.

Instead, it is time to face up to reality: If you’re a regular organic shopper, you’ve been duped.

Dr. Alex B. Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience and holds a Ph.D. in microbiology. Tom Hartsfield is a physics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas and a regular contributor to the RealClearScience Newton Blog.


Dec 29, 2011
I think its quite simple.. if you are messing with nature then its going to mess you up.. organic all the way regardless of health benefits.. Everybody knows the benefits of organic farming on wildlife etc..

Just look at what is happening in Punjab..... its full of cancer patients. There was no cancer before the chemicals were used..

The chemical companies would make up these stories because they want people to buy their chemicals.. When are people going to learn.. isn't the evidence clear enough...


Jan 29, 2011
Vancouver, Canada
Regarding points 2 and 3 of the main article, I would say:

Even if the pesticides used are OK in trace amounts in our body, I don't want them :D I don't want any chemicals, who knows how long they stay in there :p

Yes initially the yield is low as the soil and crops are not used to organic farming. But in many places after 5-6 cycles, crop yield does go up.


Nov 14, 2010
I saw this on the news. I have mixed views. (Yes, I did not rhyme that intentionally) :)

The human race is going to learn things the hard way. We have abused this planet and depleted the ozone layer. All of this is going to kick our butts really hard at some point. We need to get back to basics. We need to tread gently enough that we stop poisoning ourselves with all our toxic greed. Toxins in food, in the air, in the water...its everywhere. So now what? Do we just sit here and complain or do we get busy with doing seva for Mother Nature. I vote for Seva.

There is a cool website called Care2.com which offers some opportunities for armchair activism. Maybe we can have a thread somewhere for sites that inspire us to get active in causes. I would love it.

The US had a lot of insane weather this summer and tornados are becoming commonplace in places where they weren't common before.

I speak like I'm among the innocent, but I am just as dependent on all sorts of things that are harming the planet and the lives on it. When I was younger, I tried harder to leave fewer footprints, but I've neglected it lately.

I'm inspired by the Pope who apparently is dubbed the "green pope" and will be using an electric car. Apparently, he's already made some changes around the vatican to make it more green. Yay! Not sure why this surprises me; why shouldn't there be the "green pope"?

The article I read is at HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...utm_hp_ref=religion&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

I am not sure the correct way to post articles here from other sources. I'll have to study how Soul_Jyot ji does it.

When it comes to shopping more responsibly for food, one thing I do is buy from local orchards when things are in season. Chances are it will have less muck on it ... whether pesticides or preservatives. Its almost apple season and apples in season are heavenly. Its like a different fruit than the ones we get the rest of the year at the grocery store.

Is there a section at SPN for exploring various causes like the environment, animal welfare, poverty and homelessness, etc.?

It would be a good way to do networking if we could have a section like that here to inform and inspire. Maybe its already here and I just didn't notice it. Signing off so I can go check on that.

Last edited:


Dec 3, 2011
I think its quite simple.. if you are messing with nature then its going to mess you up.. organic all the way regardless of health benefits.. Everybody knows the benefits of organic farming on wildlife etc..

Just look at what is happening in Punjab..... its full of cancer patients. There was no cancer before the chemicals were used..

The chemical companies would make up these stories because they want people to buy their chemicals.. When are people going to learn.. isn't the evidence clear enough...

That's a very good point.
But the problem is in this day and age chemicials are used everywhere and in everything. It is virtually impossible to purchase something without any chemical enhancing.
Don't get too worried, not all of these are harmful, some have been used since the turn of the last century.

We have fruits and veg, meat and lots of other foods from all over the world available everywhere!!
In UK, they have bananas from the Carribean, oranges from Florida, tomatoes from Spain, Lamb from New Zealand!,Strawberries from Mexico! and even some soft fruits like peaches..etc. all the way from California!!!- that's 6,000 miles!!!
To travel these kind of miles, the huge 20 foot containers take about 2-3 weeks by sea, plus another 10 or so days by land- There is aboslutely NO WAY that your strawberry can not have anything on it to preserve it, sure they can be packed in near freezing container packs or with super controlled seals BUT it is too costly to have this forhe whole journey.
Therefore, preservatives and chemicals have to be sprayed along with chemicals to stop the spread of pests and other insects that could be hazardous an serious threats to global spread of disease.

These chemicals are essential for our health and in disease prevention, as well as giving us the choice to eat crops grown ten's of thousands of miles away.

My family have been enjoying fresh fruit and veg here that is very near fresh, grown locally and purely organic. Now, this fruit and veg, i must say tastes absolutely great to what we used to get back in UK. However, the problem we have here that we never had in UK is that the fruits and even some veg like fresh lettuce only lasts a few days.
We bring bananas and strawberries for example, but after 2-3 days they start going soft, brown and not so desirable. Being born and bred Brits, we have been a little slow catching on to the North American ways, but now we realise that they all have these huge freezers for this very purpose, we are supposed to freeze whatever we would like to preserve and keep longer!!!-- I'm still trying to get used to this habit as we don't have corner shops either where you can pick up bread and milk a few times a week.
Infact bread and milk here doesn't go off for weeks!!!, yes weeks... in UK it used to be more Fresh as it would be 'off' in about 5 days!!!
So, I may be enjoying some fruit and veg here that has had less additives compared to my good old Blighty, but on the other hand I miss the fresh Milk and Bread back there!!

Saying ALL this, trying not to go off topic- We do NEEd to be aware of what chemicals are used an what exactly are they for ?
Remember, any manufacturer or producer will use a cheaper alternative if it becomes available, but we need to be aware of these new experimental introductions that have in recent years been proven to increase disease and cancers.

The More we MESS with Nature and natural products, the more disease and superbugs will keep developing.
Even for every few steps closer scientists get for deathly cures, another 4-5 super viruses and clever super bugs automatically emerge!!!


Nov 14, 2010
Just look at what is happening in Punjab..... its full of cancer patients. There was no cancer before the chemicals were used..

Sat Nam _/|\_

Baljinder ji. I watched the news yesterday and they said there is a lot more skin cancer in children these days and it barely existed in the past. The doctor claimed it had to do with how much time kids spend outside. I'm suspicious of that being the real reason because kids have always spent a lot of time outside.

The problem is the ozone layer and God only knows what kind of toxins blow in the wind from factory smoke stacks, car exhausts, etc.. I think the real problem is when we disrespect and abuse Mother Earth, Mother Earth teaches us a lesson. She is no different than our biological mothers who disciplined us if we were disrespectful to them.
📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel: