Organic vs. Non-organic Food Essay
Bottom line, going green can cultivate envy. The public is constantly bombarded with the idea that organic products are better. Perhaps this is true, but maybe it is brilliant marketing simply selling a status symbol. Envy can come from a neighbor’s luscious, organically grown front yard to the hybrid vehicle a co-worker drives, to the organic foods that consumers in a higher financial echelon seem to be able to only afford.
Is this envy justifiable or is the notion of organics and its superiority a tactic of propaganda to boost the already $30-plus billion industry even higher, according to Farm and Dairy’s April, 2012 article “Organic Food Sales”? Although proponents of organic food insist it is healthier than conventional food, non-organic foods are extremely comparable to its organic counterpart, possibly even more necessary. The United States has evolved into a powerful nation; one that boasts of freedoms, luxuries and an overabundance of practically everything.
The United States is also a country which has a population that grows greater and greater each year. Reasons including the number of births outnumbering the number of deaths, as well as the number of immigrants coming to live the “American Dream. ” According to the Census Bureau End-of-2011 estimate, “the United States will enter 2012 with a population of roughly 312. 8 million people” (Schlesinger, 2011, para, 1). This statistic takes into account one birth approximately every 8 seconds, one death every 12 seconds as well as one new migrant entering the country approximately every 46 seconds.
As cited by Schlesinger (2011), this ends up with a population increase of over two million in 2012. This is a staggering number and would only increase over time. In his article “Point: Industrial Agriculture has Improved Farming for Hundreds of Years,” George Wright (2011) explains how the use of biotechnology and techniques such as caging animals used to increase the profits of agricultural industry is not a contemporary idea. Wright (2011, para. 7) states how “the use of biotechnology to produce food has been around for over 8000 years.
” He gives examples such as enzymes being used to make foods like baked goods and dairy products. Wright also asserts that “biotechnology is expected to help agriculture by improving quality, nutrition, safety and the processing of raw crops,” (Wright, 2011, para. 7). Biotechnology is not a process that is new to the agriculture industry. Finally, Wright’s article (2011, para. 12) concludes that “with the world’s population at six billion and heading higher, there is no practical alternative to ‘industrial agriculture’.
” He also points out that “agricultural innovations from industries such as biotechnology are advancing agricultural production,” (Wright, 2011, para. 13). In addition, Avery’s article “‘Frontline’ Perpetuates Pesticide Myths” (1993), Avert adds that “it is believed that if the world converts to organic systems of farming, by 2050 this system of farming will not be able to supply enough food for the population and will be responsible for massive amounts of deaths due to starvation. Another organic misnomer claims that organic livestock and plants are free from chemicals and unnecessary medications, unlike their non-organic counterparts.
According to Nancy Sprague’s 2011 article, “Counterpoint: Organic Food is Unnecessary & the Current Food Supply is Safe”, there are a myths about organic food that are debunked. She discusses how organic foods are actually prepared and while comparing and contrasting it to the process non-organic foods go through prior to arriving at the grocery shelves. When discussing about the use (or lack thereof) of pesticides, Sprague (2011, para. 4) notes that “organic farmers can use pesticides from an approved list,” which contradicts the consumer’s belief that organic foods have not come into contact with any pesticides.
Sprague goes further to state the toxins that the organic industry supposedly takes pride into avoiding are contaminants that actually cannot be avoided. Nitrates, chemicals and antibiotics are now found naturally within the environment due to “broad contamination of the earth’s natural resources” (Sprague, 2011, para. 4). The organic industry also asserts that the levels of hormones in non-organic meats are extremely high and in-turn dangerous to the consumers’ health. In fact, in Lester Aldrich’s (2006) article, “Consumers Eat Up Organic Beef Despite Costs, Unproven Benefits”, he finds quite the opposite conclusion.
Aldrich discusses the results of a study by Gary Smith, professor of meat sciences at the Center for Red Meat Safety. This study analyzed and compared the levels of hormones found in two-3 ounce steaks, one each from an organic animal and one from a non-organic animal. The results were shocking. Smith’s compare/contrast analysis showed that there was an almost incomprehensible difference (on a nanogram scale) between the hormone levels from both the organic and non-organic samples,” (Aldrich, 2006, para. 29).
Aldrich (2006) then compared these results to the levels of these same hormones to a typical birth control pill that is voluntarily consumed. The results showed “the average birth-control pill provides 35,000 nanograms of estrogen daily” whereas “a non-pregnant woman produces about 480,000 nanograms of estrogen, 240,000 nanograms of testosterone and 10. 1 million nanograms of progesterone daily,” (Aldrich, 2006, para. 30). The comparison is astounding and should put any worries about added hormones in our food to rest. Prior to pasteurization of food, people would die young due to food-borne illnesses.
Avery (2002) opens his article “The Hidden Dangers In Organic Food” with “Products most people think are purer than other foods are making people seriously ill. ” Avery’s (2002) article mentions how the invention of the refrigerator as well as simple procedures such as food refrigeration and washing ones hands before eating or making food would eventually keep food-borne illness to a minimum in the United States, although those individuals who were quite ill or weak would die if exposed to food-borne bacteria.
Unfortunately, with all the claims of health, organic food is becoming more notorious for being served on a plate with food-borne illnesses such as salmonella, and now more recently, E. coli. Avery (2002, para. 1) cites the U. S. Centers for Disease Control stating “people who eat organic and natural foods are eight times likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria,” salmonella or fungus. According to Avery (2002), USDA offered organic famers a method that did not require either pesticides or pasteurization to protect the crops; irradiation.
This process used low levels of gamma radiation to kill bacteria while maintaining the freshness of the food. Unfortunately, organic farmers were outraged and more than 200,000 protesters opposed the idea therefore the USDA removed this process from the final organic food standard (Avery, 2002). This has not been beneficial for public safety, as cited in Sprague’s (2011) where she points out that there have been several infections caused by E. coli in the United States during 2009 alone.
Organic farming does have one huge positive aspect: it strives for self-sustainability and leaves a small carbon footprint in the environment. With that said, organic farms, regardless of whether or not its food can be proven to be healthier than conventional food, requires a much larger area of land mass to produce the same amount of food than that of a conventional farm. According to Avery (2002), “agriculture already takes up 36 percent of the world’s land surface. ” Avery (2002) translates this to mean that by year 2050, short of a worldwide cataclysm, the world will need 2.
5 times more food output than what is needed today. Wilcox (2011, para. 26) states in her article “Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture” that until organic farming can contend with the output of conventional farming due to space needed without the ecological costs involved, the need for more space will be severely detrimental to the environment. ” Organic farms help the environment on small, local levels. Unfortunately they do not produce the same amount of food that a conventional farm can; between 20%-50% below what a conventional farm of the same size will produce (Wilcox, 2011).
Wilcox (2011) also emphasizes that with more advanced technology, organic farming may eventually be able to keep up with conventional food production, however, if more areas of the planet become transformed into organic farmland in the meantime, the planet’s natural habitats will begin to quickly deplete. Conventionally farmed foods and organic foods both have positive and negative aspects to their individual philosophies. Organic farming does not necessarily produce healthier food.
Hormone levels in organic and non-organic foods are extremely similar and the lack of pesticides in organic food contributes to a higher frequency of food-borne illnesses. As much as this is true, the organic farm leaves a smaller carbon footprint than a conventional farm, which, in the long run will allow for the environment to sustain itself and be able to continue producing more food. With that being said, when going to the store to buy food, the consumer should make the conscious choice to purchase organic foods when it is affordable, in order to support and promote self-sustainable/organic farming.
If the choice is made to buy conventional foods, the consumer should not feel guilty or worried the food is substandard to organic. There should be confidence knowing that USDA regulations are being followed by conventional farms to produce the highest quality food possible. ?
References Aldrich, L. (2006, July 12). Consumers eat up organic beef despite costs, unproven benefits. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from htttp://search. proquest. com. proxy. devry. edu/business/docprintview/398944062/abstract/137 Avery, D. T. (1993, Apr 01). ‘Frontline’ perpetuates pesticide myths.
Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com. proxy. devry. edu/business/docprintview/398370529/Record/1371 Avery, D. T. (2002, June 25). The hidden dangers in organic food. Retrieved from http://www. cgfi. org/2002/06/the-hidden-dangers-in-organic-food/ Sprague, N. (2011). Counterpoint: Organic food is unnecessary & the current food supply is safe. Points Of View: Organic Food, 3. Retrieved from http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=trye&db=pwh&AN=43286301&site=pov-line Schlesinger, R. (2011, Dec 30).
U. S.population 2012: nearly 313 million people. U. S. News and World Report, Retrieved from http://www. usnews. com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2011/12/30/us-population-2012-nearly-313-million-people Wilcox, C. (2011, July 18). Mythbusting 101: organic farming > conventional agriculture. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://blogs. scientificamerican. com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/ Wright, G. (2011). Point: Industrial agriculture has improved farming for hundreds of years. Points Of View: Factory Farming, 2.
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