(If you haven’t already, you may wish to read yesterday’s post, “Is Organic Really Better?,” before continuing with this one.)
After discussing the article over dinner with my husband and doing a little more research, I’d like to add to my comments from yesterday.
One of Avner’s major arguments against foregoing chemical and hormones in the food supply is that our efficiency will be lower. For example, we need more organic cows to produce the same amount of milk as conventional cows. I would contest that the real problem lies in our consumption levels. How much milk do we really need? Perhaps the inability to produce “enough” without resorting to chemicals and hormones is an indication that we have unrealistic expectations. We all know that the average American eats too much. We can offer excuses, but the truth remains: we are a heavy nation. When it comes to the meat supply, what if the average American cut down his portion from eight ounces to a healthy three or four ounces at each meal? I’m not pretending that this would single-handedly fix all of our food supply problems, but surely it is worthwhile for each of us to ask the question, “Am I being a good steward of the earth (and my body!) in my eating habits?”
This sense of personal responsibility is precisely what is missing in Avner’s article. Sure, there’s no question that mindlessly buying organic foods from your grocery store may not be helpful. She cites an excellent example:
“According to the Oct. 16, 2006, cover story in Business Week, when you eat Stonyfield Farms yogurt, you are often consuming dried organic milk flown all the way from New Zealand and reconstituted here in the U.S. The apple puree used to sweeten the yogurt sometimes comes from Turkey, and the strawberries from China. Importation of organic products raises troubling questions about food safety, labor standards, and the fossil fuels burned in the transportation of these foods.”
Alright. I respond by passing over Stonyfield products and selecting organic products from better companies. I won’t give up on organic as a whole. In this case, Stonyfield seems to be exploiting the organic label, but many other companies don’t. Ecover, for example, demonstrates real commitment to the entire organic cause–better for people, better for the environment, better sustainability. Even their manufacturing facilities use rain water for toilets and 100% green energy. That’s impressive. (check them out at http://www.ecover.com/us/en/) I gladly pay a little extra to support a company like that. Again, the key is personal responsibility. Are you buying organics to assuage your vague sense of guilt? Or are you buying them mindfully, carefully choosing which companies and growers to support?
I also object to Avner’s claim that no one has proved any detrimental effects of hormones and chemicals from the food supply. This simply isn’t true, but I’ll have to post another time with evidence to back me up on this.
Last, I need to apologize for failing to check up on the article’s author. Jackie Avner, the girl who grew up on a dairy farm and wants to spread the truth as an industry insider, has a little secret up her sleeve. She is the vice president of Felix Pets, LLC, a company devoted to genetically engineering hypoallergenic cats. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself at their website: www.felixpets.com. This revelation doesn’t reflect very well on her animal-cruelty plea. It also explains her if-you-can’t-prove-it-then-it’s-not-true attitude.
Again, it’s all about personal responsibility. Buy from companies you have researched. Buy locally from farms whose growing practices you support. Just buy smart.