Is Organic Food Safer? Or is Processed Food More Dangerous?

The New York Times asks the question "It’s Organic, but Does That Mean It’s Safer?" and I think gets it wrong, either giving the wrong answer or asking the wrong question.

Kim Severson and Andrew Martin write:

The national outbreak of salmonella in products with peanuts has been particularly unsettling for shoppers like her who think organic food is safer. The plants in Texas and Georgia that were sending out contaminated peanut butter and ground peanut products had something else besides rodent infestation, mold and bird droppings. They also had federal organic certification.


And why did the Times single out Clif Bars as their illustration? There are hundreds of products.

The article points out, accurately, that

Although the rules governing organic food require health inspections and pest-management plans, organic certification technically has nothing to do with food safety

On the other hand, in Collin's roundup Organic Food: Healthier for You and the Planet he noted studies that showed

"Organically grown foods consistently had about one-third as many residues as conventionally grown foods"; additionally, several studies corroborate this finding by having found that that while 77 percent of conventional food carries synthetic pesticide residues, only about 25 percent of organic food does. So, generally, organic food isn't going to have as much nasty residue on it, and that is a very good thing.

The proper question here perhaps should have been "It's processed, but does that mean it's more dangerous?"

Almost all of the problems we talk about arise from processing operations, insufficient care, insufficient supervision and concentration of sources so that when something goes wrong it goes wrong bigtime. We have seen it with salmonella, e coli, listeria. As we noted in our discussion of There's Crap in Our Food. Literally.:

What can one say, other than the more stuff that you buy unprocessed and wash and prepare yourself, the more control you have over what is in your food.

That applies whether it is organic, all-natural, biodynamic or whatever.

More on crappy food:
The Maggots in Your Mushrooms
There's Crap in Our Food. Literally.
FDA Can't Make Peanut Butter Better: But The FBI Might Figure Out How
Scared of Salmonella? Make Your Own Peanut Butter

Tags: Farming

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