Is organic food a scam?

Originally published at:


I only eat inorganic food myself.




Finally, buying organic food isn’t necessarily better for the environment (but eating locally is).

That last part seems to be carrying a lot of assumptions. There are plenty of scenarios where “eating locally” is by no means better for the environment, or at least where the math is a very close call.

Let’s say you’re buying a nice cucumber, because you have to use something to shovel ranch dressing into your face and it might as well be a slice of cucumber. You have local farmer Al who drained a wetland to expand his crop acreage, buys his power from a coal-fired power plant, and whose waste goes directly into the local watershed. Now, let’s say you have Peggy, a farmer two states over who uses hydroponic farming techniques to minimize water usage, gets her power from a bank of wind turbines, and makes every effort to minimize any pollution from her operation.

Of course the energy costs of transportation have to be figured in, but I don’t think it’s anything like a given that the “local” produce is necessarily more friendly to the environment in that scenario, is it?


I buy certified-organic local meat where possible, because (at least in Canada) organic certifications for meats also include requirements regarding animal husbandry and standards of care that are greater than the government regulations.

I am lucky enough to live in an area with an abundance of fresh produce (in the warm months at least) and buy local wherever possible. several of the local farmers at the farmers market hate organic certification - they grow their produce exactly the same whether it is certified or not, but they have to pay a premium to get the licence logo on the “certified organic” produce and either have to charge more or lower their margins to sell it, in large part because FUD about US farm practices a mistaken belief that “organic” pesticides are somehow better for you or the environment has (sadly) lead to people not doing their research on what they eat, so they have to pay that fee for at least some of their crop.

the problem is, at my supermarket at least, the conventionally farmed crop is local, while the “certified organic” one is from Europe, South America, or China. I don’t want my food to have to be flown across the planet to get to me unless there’s no other option.

And can we please start referring to this food as “certified organic” instead of “organic”? We’re not eating inorganic food. At least I hope we’re not!


Interesting rhetorical trope: the opposite of “organic” is “regular.” Several times, in fact.


Salt is inorganic!


Shipping costs (carbon) are not necessarily higher that costs for local production, especially for things that may be unseasonal or not suited for the region. Bananas, for example, travel well (so they can take slow, efficient transport), and of course are stupidly resource intensive to grow outside of the tropics.

The piece (apparently, tv;dw;) conveniently ignores the primary reason most people (I know) try to buy certified organic (or even related designations): environmental impact. Typical straw-man nonsense consistent with these “liberal man-bites-conservative dog” pieces.


Are you going to show us your big, strong hands?




Is it grown by a small, local farmer? Probably not a scam. But most organics are produced by big Ag these days. So prob. Organic pesticides are also often barely distuinguisgable from their conventional counterparts, so there’s that, too.


The problem with “organic” is that it is mostly a marketing scheme. I say mostly in that, as the video and others pointed out, depending on the certification it may likely have less pesticides on it, and have different standards for how animals are raised. In most cases, no, I don’t pay the premium. The fact that I am eating a fruit or veggie is enough for my body to rejoice in this rare bounty, and they aren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

But I like the video’s approach to disrupt the thinking one is “good” and the other “bad”.

I can’t speak for him, but I imagine his concern is less the literal cost, and more the cost of pollution and carbon of shuttling foods that far away.


Right, that’s basically what I mean.

Of course, that’s why I added the “in season” caveat above. Ontario isn’t going to be growing Bananas or Avocados anytime soon.

One thing I didn’t mention above that’s also relevant for certain types of produce - folks are really missing out if they aren’t having ripened-on-the-plant produce. Again, depending on the produce, the flavour differences can be extreme - so much so that I can’t eat out-of-season non-local peaches anymore, they are flavourless by comparison.

The Ontario food terminal (which supplies food for the 6+ Million people in the Greater Toronto Area) has dedicated rooms for ripening produce with ethylene gas. Since non-local produce often travels far, it is often picked before it is ripe, shipped that way, and then made to appear “ripe” by use of this gas. While the gas itself is safe and considered “organic” so it is used even on certified-organic foods, what it cannot do is create the flavour compounds that come from produce ripening while still receiving nutrients from the parent plant. Taste matters too. :slight_smile:


Dammit, and I’ve been eating organic fruits and vegetables because they taste better. I feel like such a sucker.


“Costly trend we can skip”, love it. It’s probably just as healthy to plant monocultures, continue to kill all bugs and poison the soil and groundwater by filling them with pesticides and try and GMO our way out of it rather that actually working with nature and understanding the food chain which we participate in.

I mean after we kill all the bees we can pollinate with drones, because we’re such smart humans.



1 Like

None of that has anything to do with paying a consortium to put a “certified organic” sticker on your food. Lots of local farmers here grow heirloom varieties of crops. and if you think “organic” = “pesticide free”, then I’m afraid you need to do some research on what you’re eating.

Look beyond the marketing. Take the time to go to your local farmers market and talk to farmers, many of whom I’ll wager have been growing food for generations and think about this stuff far more than any of us do.


There do seem to be some studies showing benefits. Maybe it’s for specific conditions?


An organic farm typically produces less food than a traditional farm. (At least until they manage to get “Organic” pesticides and “organic” strains that accomplish the same thing as “traditional” pesticides and “GMO” strains.)

This reduces the amount of food available, and increases the price. In the US, this mostly means that poorer people will eat more prepared food and less fresh food. In other countries, this means that more people will go without food.

1 Like