I just came away from an interesting discussion with a reporter at a trade show.
When I told her about my background in organic agriculture, she blurted, “I think this organic thing is just a bunch of hype.”
Okay, that’s always a line guaranteed to get my blood pressure turned up a notch.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“How can you keep the chemicals off of organic land when the wind is going to blow the sprays, or the organic farmer irrigates with water that is also used by a conventional farmer, or birds and insects are spreading the chemicals?” she asked.
I responded, “Do you agree that it would be best to eat food that doesn’t have any of those kinds of residues?”
“Absolutely,” she answered, “but organic can’t guarantee that.”
“You’re right. There are no guarantees,” I said.
Then, I pulled out my old standby line: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
As our conversation continued, she agreed that organic crops likely have lower levels of chemical residues than conventional crops. I wished that this conversation had occurred after the latest study came out showing just how much difference there is in those residue levels. According to that study, conventional crops have four times the chemical residues of their organic counterparts. Oh, and the organic versions are 60% higher in healthy antioxidants as well.
Organic farmers can’t operate in a vacuum. They are generally surrounded by neighbors who regularly spray chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The buffer zones they are required to maintain and their other practices are designed to minimize contamination from those neighbors.
They aren’t perfect, but according to the information in the latest study, they are doing pretty darned good.