Organic food thoughts

I've been contemplating why organic, vegetarian food is a "better" choice. Reading Peter Singer's books really convinced me to eat less meat. The book To Buy Or Not To Buy Organic really bothered me, though: the implication of many books of its ilk is that any pesticides (and similar poisons) are bad, in any amount. However, we've been using pesticides pretty consistently throughout the 20th century, and not everyone gets weird diseases due to pesticides. It does seem like certain kinds of diseases seem more prevalent, but there is certainly no proven link between tiny doses of pesticides and diseases (like cancer) late in life. Now, that doesn't mean there isn't a link, but it makes me really uncomfortable when people argue that there must be a link. I think the real reason to avoid pesticides (when possible) is that they are typically linked to monoculture farming and environmental degradation.

3 comments:

Mike said...

***** not everyone gets weird diseases due to pesticides. *****

Um, when you look around, do you see healthy people? Countries with the least organic foods have the highest rates of cancer. The U.S., which spends more on healthcare than any country in the world, ranks 44th now in life expectancy. Americans are getting shorter, sicker, weaker and fatter every year.

What more evidence do you need?

Wilson said...

Thanks for your comment.

> Um, when you look around, do you see healthy people?

Actually, I see lots of healthy people. Where do you see lots of unhealthy people?

> Countries with the least organic foods have the highest rates of cancer.

Can you provide a scientific study that proves causation (or even that talks about this correlation)? This weekend's NY Times has an excellent article on how difficult it is to prove disease causation.

> The U.S., which spends more on healthcare than any country in the world, ranks 44th now in life expectancy.

Why is that linked to the eating of non-organic foods? Maybe it's linked to the fact that our health-care system is structurally broken.

> Americans are getting shorter, sicker, weaker and fatter every year.

I doubt that. This kind of statement is why I find myself skeptical of all of the doomsday books about the unhealthiness of America.

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