J. A. McGee is a Ph.D. student in sociology with a concentration in environmental sociology at University of Oregon. His research explores the development and environmental impacts of sustainable markets. He recently posted an intriguing study at https://www.academia.edu/. It concludes that the increase in certified organic farmland from 2000 to 2008 “is not correlated with declines in greenhouse gas emissions derived specifically from agricultural production and, on the contrary, is associated positively overall with agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.”
The crops with greater fuel consumption are grain, vegetables, fruit, broilers, egg layers, and pork. Additionally greenhouse gas emissions from organic production are estimated to be “on average 10.6 % higher.”
McGee's report provides several reasons. Leading the list is the USDA rules for organic certification. Analysts say the rules set maximum and minimum standards that bracket the industry “prohibiting stricter standards and making them irrelevant in specific market contexts.” This move to standardized the industry and define the term “organic” was necessary in order to set the stage for mass production.
It was obvious many years ago that the growing demand for organic foods could not be filled with a smattering of small farms scattered around the country utilizing very inefficient, but very environmentally conscience production models. The increasing demand could only be met with mass production methods closely profiling the conventional non-organic models. Now that mass production models are utilizing organic management systems, it is easier to evaluate organic versus conventional management practices. The primary measurable factors indicate that with organic there are more acres of fallow fields, greater fuel consumption, and higher field work requirements in terms of yields.
The completed study dated June 2015 is available HERE.
The author’s personal copy dated July 2014 can be downloaded for free HERE.
A separate article that summarizes the fuel requirements for various production scenarios and underscores some of McGee’s points is HERE.
These reports underscore my assertion that the “organic” label takes consumers’ eyes off the ball. In side-by-side trials of identical crops planted at the same time and raised in the same soils and environment, organic management does not produce a healthier more nutritious food compared to conventional practices. Food safety issues are also the same in organic and conventional foods.
Many consumers have the notion that any food labeled “organic” must be better for you. That is a dangerous myth which lures people into eating foods that can actually be detrimental to their health.
The consumer has choices. But those choices can only be good choices when the consumer fully understand all aspects of the situation. If one wants to improve or maintain their health with food, they must understand that each food is a different chemical package. (See our Food Analysis Tables.) Kale is far more nutrient dense than iceberg lettuce. Kale is a perfectly balanced food whereby grain and seeds are high glycemic, nutritionally deficient foods loaded with inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. Being “organic” or “natural” has nothing to do with the chemical properties of various grains while on the other hand animal bodies only recognize the various chemical components that are in grain. The same is similar between grass-fed meats and grain-fed meats.
For years scientists have been critical of the many myths being spread regarding organic’s supposedly nutritional and food safety advantages. Now it is becoming apparent that the organic management system is also second best in terms of economics and environmental sustainability.
The beat goes on.
May 22, 2015
I just read your latest article. I'm very confused. It sounds to me like you are shooting yourself in the foot. Are you actually saying that eating organically grown food as opposed to roundup ready GMO food is not a good choice? Are you actually saying that say, pumpkin seeds which are loaded with nutritional value are no good for you? Lastly are you saying that grain fed animals are just as healthy for you as grass fed ones?
I don't know what you read because your conclusions are a real mystery to me. The only thing that I have said many times to folks is that they should never, ever eat pumpkin seeds no matter what.
Pumpkin seeds represent the very essence of the foods man should avoid. They are dangerously high glycemic. They are loaded with inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids and virtually devoid of Omega-3 fatty acids. Also, in terms of nutritional completeness they are one of the lowest rated foods in my Food Analysis Tables. They are virtually at the very opposite end of the spectrum to kale and grass-fed meats.
Maybe you should download my free eBook and read it. The Real Diet of Man
As for the article, this is what it was about.
Farming, no matter how it is done, is the least planet friendly, most nutritionally deficient, highest cost, least sustainable form of food production. In this case, McGee makes a point (as many others have) that organic farming doesn't improve the numbers over conventional. This is a reality just like the fact that organic doesn't address the nutritional needs of man. Think organic sugar, organic corn, organic cigarettes, organic corn syrup, organic rice, etc. The chemistry of the foods ingested trump everything, which most people ignore.
In addition, organic thinking ignores 100% natural organic toxins, pathogens, and viruses. For instance mycotoxins, which are the most prevalent toxins on and in our foods, are a natural organic threat to health.
When people hear organic, in most cases they misinterpret the meaning and give it more credit than it deserves. In so doing, they are lead astray by organic marketers into eating foods they should never eat. I deal with this problem all the time with people telling me they can buy organic meat at the local grocery stores for less money and I'm ripping people off.
Neither I, nor anybody with a brain, condemns organic. But we must be realists. McGee doesn't condemn organic, he just put the pencil to it.
On the flip side of farming is livestock on pastures. That is the most sustainable, most natural, most nutritious food production scenario bar none. Yet in our "modern" world, it is denigrated daily by the politically correct. (Livestock on pastures rules out livestock fed grain and other ties to farming.)
Thanks for commenting.