What’s Up With Organic? What If It’s All Just A Scam?

Illustrations by Keith Carter/ Eater.com


Anybody else noticing the pushback on organic? My Google News feed for “Healthy Eating” is filled with anti-organic articles lately.


More doctors and nutritionists are questioning the value of organic from Philly Voice’sIs organic food really more healthy? It’s difficult to tell” to Real Simple’sNo need to spend money on organic avocados or any of these 14 fruits and veggies.

At the same time, there’s more guidance than ever on “healthier” diets, e.g., Men’s Health just ran a great piece on “31 Easy Ways To Eat Healthier.Their #1 Tip is to ditch processed food. Organic comes in at #29 and is only recommended if your budget allows.

Well + Good is focusing on the “psychobiotic food pyramid” which is all about gut health and draws its inspiration from Nordic and Mediterranean diets — no mention of organics.

Also, seeing more scientific articles on fasting, especially Alternate-Day-Fasting (ADF) which sounds like a bunch of hokum but is getting traction. I had dinner last night with a friend who just started on this.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, it looks like the most significant shift is coming from plant-based diets, many of which take us right back to crappy, unhealthy processed food. That’s how I perceive it – and so does John Mackey, Founder, and CEO of Whole Foods, who was just quoted in Business Insider as saying:

If you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods. I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy.”

Bottom Line.

It’s been 40 years since Whole Foods first created the organics market. That’s an exceptionally long run for any food or diet trend.

I’m going out on a limb here but I don’t feel it has ever been firmly established that organic products are better for us than conventionally grown local produce that is consumed seasonally.

There’s also a lot of fraud and scams going on in the organic category as outlined by Eater earlier this year.

I, for one, am not convinced that organic products taste better or are healthier.

“Organic” is luxury branding for the food category. It provides a halo effect that makes us feel better about ourselves and what we’re feeding our families.

Ultimately, it’s on a par with believing a pair of Gucci $1600 sneakers will somehow, miraculously, get us better quality “steps” than if we were wearing $100 Nikes or $40 Vans.

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