Pesticides and Other Problems with Organic Food

Organic, though better for you, does not mean organic-is-foodpesticide free. Certain pesticides and other chemicals may be used. The only way to know for sure is to grow your own or establish a relationship with growers; ranchers and farmers.

Organic Fruit and Vegetables

Not wishing to know how laws and sausages are made might well extend to food in general, at least food that we didn’t grow ourselves. It’s easy enough for us to wave our hands and incant “organic” and “grass fed,” but what do these really mean, and when are they important?

Organic means less than you might hope. What might you hope? That such food is pesticide free or chemical free. Not really. Certain categories of pesticides are allowed as well as certain powders and sprays.

Two pesticides approved for organic use are rotenone and pyrethrin. They are weak pesticides, so three times as much may be needed. Pesticides used on non-organic food are also regulated. We do not know if a threefold higher amount of organic pesticide is safer than the lower dosage but more potent non-organinc pesticide. In fact, the organic pesticides haven’t really been studied at all, so the effect of these on us really isn’t known. Rotenone, however, is quite toxic to fish.

So it would seem that “organic” may not really be quite the “be all and end all” we might wish for. Further, organic varies with different countries having different standards.

Fertilizers are used. They are supposed to be composed of natural ingredients. The compost heap is a good example, but most naturally occurring substances with fertilizer value can be used as well.

A possible solution, other than growing it yourself, is to get to know the supplier. At an organic farmer’s market, you will likely deal directly with the grower and can find out exactly what is and isn’t done to produce the food.

Finally bear in mind that the micro-nutritional value of the food depends a lot on the soil it was grown in. Soil wears out. Does the farmer rotate crops sufficiently to insure good nutritional value. There is no real standard here that measures nutrition. Again, the personal relation can help.

The Organic Pecking Orderorganic-100-per-cent

In the United States, food that is 100% organic can be labeled “100% Organic.” Food that is 95% organic can be labeled simply “Organic.” A food that is 70% organic can list the ingredients as organic, i.e. “Made From Organic Ingredients.” This apparently sells better than “30% Non-Organic.”

Industrial Food Producers Don’t Like Organic

organic-vs-industrialThis is primarily an economic issue. People that opt for organic buy less industrial. Though industrial food is cheaper, the industry has fought back attacking organic. The attack usually is either a sustainability argument—in order to feed the planet, industrial practices are necessary, or nutritional—that industrial food is just as healthy, organics use pesticides too, etc.

Expect this to continue.

Organic and Grass Fed Beef

According to Wiki, organic meat must meet the following


  • Born and raised on certified organic pasture
  • Never receive antibiotics
  • Never receive growth-promoting hormones
  • Are fed only certified organic grains (corn is a grain) and grasses
  • Must have unrestricted outdoor access

This is a tough set of requirements, and organic meat is correspondingly rare. Grass Fed is the more commonly seen designation. This means that the animal ate grass up (at least 95%) until slaughter. Otherwise it is fattened up on grain, typically corn. Now here is an odd one. Meat could be organic, but not grass fed. If beef is raised organic, and fattened up on corn, it’s still organic so long as that corn was organic.

But other things being equal, corn finished beef definitely isn’t as healthy as grass finished. Corn is a starch and doesn’t have the micronutrients. So we preach “grass fed,” rather than organic. It’s almost moot. Organic is very hard to find and grass fed fairly rare as well. (What you hope to find is “organic, grass-fed and grass-finished.”) Most meat at the top organic supermarket, Whole Foods, is neither organic nor grass fed. When it is, they usually mark it as such. However they do have a set of meat standards that ensures a higher quality product:

  • No Antibiotics
  • No growth hormones
  • No animal by products in the feed
  • Humane treatment
  • Restricted feed-lot time.

They further designate the individual meat quality with a one through five scoring system amply explained at the store. So we take what we can get.

Unless you have a direct relationship with a supplier, perhaps the best course is to see what sort of standards the various supermarkets have and make decisions based on that.

Some Plants and Animals Accumulate Toxins Faster Than Others

Our body is able to detoxify our food to a certain extent. However, it cannot deal with overwhelming concentrations and further, there are contaminants that the body cannot eliminate at all.

If you can afford not too, why take a chance and eat pesticides? In particular, focus on the ingredients that have the highest potential for concentrated toxins:

  • Root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips, radishes) are efficient at extracting both nutrients and contaminants from the soil. .
  • Berries likewise hyper-concentrate anything in the soil, including contaminants.
  • Dairy products. Though cows are pretty good at filtering out pesticides, they are not able to block added growth hormones and antibiotics. In fact, these are more concentrated in the milk than in the animal’s blood.
  • Some fruits can be peeled, but have to be peeled quite deep to eliminate contaminants. The nutritional value in the peel, typically a lot of the total, is hence lost.

The Bottom Line

Organic is better for you. Grass-fed is better for you. How much better depends on many thing, several of which we have discussed above. To get the maximum benefit, especially on a limited budget, it is best to delve into the details. While, “you are what you eat” is an interesting metaphor, not literally true, learning what you are eating is worth the effort. It will make a better you.

  1 comment for “Pesticides and Other Problems with Organic Food

  1. November 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    szerint:Szia, a felsÅ‘ menüsoron találsz egy “keresÅ‘eszközök” gombot, arra kattintva a második menüsorban a “bármelyik méret” fület lenyitva ki tudod választani, hogy milyen méretet szeretnél. üdv. M.

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