The Organic Scam

“Organic” food is all the rage these days. Enter any grocery store and look for the “organic” label and you will find it to be 1-2 dollars more than the “inorganic” option. Parents looking to give their kids healthier food options are spending more—up to twice as much—in an effort to avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And that is only the vegetables; “organic” meat is in an entirely different price category.

What is frustrating about the whole affair is that “organic” can mean just about anything. Everything is “organic” when you get right down to it. Everything on this planet is “natural” in the sense that it comes from this planet. The chemical compounds they make and use in the food industry may not be found in that same form in nature, but everything that goes into them is “natural” and “organic” in the sense that they from the Earth and they are living. Ask your grocer the next time you see him if “organic” actually means “pesticide-free” and see how he tries to answer. If he’s honest, he won’t be able to provide a straight answer because “organic” means different things to different producers.

It has been postulated (never proven if you ask the food industry) that chemical fertilizers and pesticides and growth steroids and hormones are greatly contributing to the rise of so many different types of cancer in humans. I think this is probably true, even if only partially. My wife bought a package of chicken breasts from the store several months ago that were physically larger than turkey breasts. It was the worst tasting and toughest piece of poultry I have ever put in my mouth. They fed the garbage can rather than our family. I couldn’t help but wonder at just how much “chemicals” had to do with this. There is no chicken on earth that would grow to this size on its own. It must have been the Goliath of the henhouse. And the bag had 8 of them. I can only imagine what the legs must have looked like.

Mutant-sized chickens are easy enough to point at as being “unnatural,” but anyone who was raised on a chicken farm sixty years ago will tell you that modern chickens—the “natural” ones—are quite a bit larger than their ancestors. But this may actually have more to do with a regular diet of steady nourishment, rather than a “scratching out” of eating when it is available. Americans themselves are also larger—on average—than their own ancestors. This could have less to do with chemicals than it does with food being plentiful. Of course, the question of “what is in the food?” is also a related and important question.

So what do we make of all this? Is buying organic better and healthier? Maybe. What is even better though is finding a local grower/farmer in your area that doesn’t use chemicals and buying directly from him. Find more concerned individuals in your neighborhood, church, school, and organize them to buy in bulk. Higher quantities will always be cheaper and will give you more leverage to negotiate better prices. Regular purchases will also work in your favor. Find a local farmer’s market and buy your vegetables there. Undoubtedly they will also know a good place to inquire about buying real chemical-free meat. Relying on the FDA to provide safe and nutritious food for your family is foolish, but negotiating directly with a farmer in your own town or community is a win-win for everyone.