I’m not a big organic shopper (I think it’s a bit of a scam) but lately it’s been hard not to notice the all-out war being waged by science against the organics industry.
And, of course, that makes me not only curious but also skeptical about why we’re seeing such an onslaught of negative news. It makes me suspect the science lobby (as in Monsanto etc) may be behind some of these studies. However, I am also not convinced that the organics industry (or the newly hyped meat-alternative industry) are completely on the up and up either.
Wading through numerous studies (many from Canada and Europe), has left me more confused than informed. There’s so much conflicting information around our food supply and what’s good for us vs. what’s harmful. You don’t have to go back more than a year or two to find all manner of discrepancies e.g. soy used to be good, now it’s bad, almond milk was good but now oat milk is better. And while veganism still seems to be growing, I’m also reading about prominent vegans e.g. Anne Hathaway, moving away from absolute Veganism to adopt a more flexitarian lifestyle.
And then there is this provocative finding: organic farmers may actually use more pesticides than conventional farmers?
One recent headline particularly caught my attention: “Why the chemical-free organic industry has a pesticide problem
It’s from the Genetic Literacy Project, based in Cincinnati, founded by Jon Entine, a science writer and senior fellow at the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California, Davis. Their funding comes primarily from the John Templeton Foundation (which seems a bit wacky).
But, it is unsettling to see so many questions being raised about “organic.” Several studies have pointed out that “organic” is one of those feel-good phrases that we have absolutely no way of measuring or testing for ourselves. You buy a banana that is described as being organic, but is it? Does it look or taste uniquely organic vs. a conventionally grown banana?
Additionally, with so much of our organic produce imported, it makes it even more suspect – especially the items imported from China which has very lax standards for organic.
Another major change in our diets is the move from meat to plant-based alternatives including lab-grown meats (the latter sounds super yucky to me).
Sales of plant-based products saw a 23% boom in 2018, according to the Good Food Institute but they still represent less than 1% of the total meat market in the country.
- The trend away from meat is being lauded both for its benefits for our health and for the environment.
- Conventional meat production is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and a leading driver of environmental damage. A shift in diets has been described by scientists as critical to tackling climate change.
- However, the nascent category of lab-grown meats requires lots of energy. A report from the Oxford Martin School suggests that in some circumstances lab meat could result in more warming than meat from cattle.
Read on below for more data on both organic and FoodTech.