Organic food not beneficial to planet
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 14:11
Organic. The word conjures up images of pure unspoiled harvest, of simpler times. Its advocates speak of it as though it is the only way to eat in this new postmodern world, too saturated with food that is chock full of pesticides, genetic engineering and unhealthy hormones. "It's unnatural," they commonly deride, "and it's going to destroy our health."
This is the very definition of a first-world problem.
According to Scientific American, organic farming yields less than half of what traditional farming does. For every acre of land that is being used to create the organic food you eat is one less acre of traditional farming, and in return that much less food.
Sadly, that is not an option for the world we live in. As of now, we aren't even sure if we have enough food to feed our current population. According to the World Food Programme, hunger kills more people in the world than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Tonight, one in seven people will go to bed hungry, not knowing where their next meal will come from.
This is not just a foreign issue that affects only third-world countries. According to a study commissioned by Feeding America, more than a quarter of the children in Orange County are considered "food insecure." This past Sunday, 60 Minutes came to Seminole County for the second time this year to show just how bad childhood hunger has gotten here in Central Florida.
And it's only going to get worse. According to the Economist, in October the world's population hit seven billion; by 2050 that number is going to jump up to nine billion. To feed this new wave of people, we will need to start producing 60-70 percent more food than we do now, according Cosmos magazine. Many are skeptical if this is even possible, myself included. If we're going to do it, we're going to need to use every tool at our disposal.
While first-world champions of organic food are asking, "What's in my food?" people around the world just want to know, "Will there be food?"
But what of the health issues? If our food is unhealthy, wouldn't it be amoral to continue feeding it to the population, despite food shortages? Yes it would, but thankfully there is little evidence that non-organic food is unhealthy.
The United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency wanted to get to the bottom of the health risks attributed to genetically altered food. They pored over health reports and nutrient levels in crops and livestock over the past 50 years. They found found that there is little evidence to support the claim that organic food is healthier than traditional food. This is not the only study of its kind. Heaps of research have been done on the subject, all coming out the same.
In a perfect world, I too would buy organic food. However, we don't live in a perfect world. In the world we live in, we need to face facts and understand that our future is going to be hard. If there is a way of making more food for less, and if there was a way of making it environmentally friendly and without any health effects, we owe it to our planet to jump at that opportunity.
So next time you're in the supermarket, don't shell out that extra $3 for organic milk. Save your money, and save the future of our planet while you're at it.