Back in June, I wrote about the contamination of produce that is organic, and the likelihood of it affecting people. I had seen a pretty irresponsible article in the Sacramento Bee, and it motivated me to make some phone calls. Here is what I wrote then.
By the way, if you need a username and log-in for the Bee, use BugMeNot.com: just put the link location in, and see if you get a combo that works.
• • • • • • • • • • •
As he had done in January on the Eco-Farm tour, Jeff Larkey talked about the quest for, and the importance of, compost. He's willing to pay a lot for high-quality compost. I asked about an article I'd read in the Sacramento Bee, written somewhat irresponsibly, I think, by a writer named Gwen Schoen. Why irresponsible? Read this:
"I do not use organic produce," says the Natomas resident [Pat Henegar]. "I haven't quite convinced myself that there are enough safety measures in place to make organic safe."
"Well, they use raw materials for growth fertilizers and pest control, and I am not comfortable with the processes used for cleaning and sanitizing. Particularly for things you eat raw, like strawberries. Just giving them a quick rinse isn't enough.
"I'm just fine with the regular produce I find."
This is such a load of (you'll pardon the expression) bullsh-t, and I knew it was wrong. I telephoned ALBA to see if someone there could give me a statement of the facts. I also talked to the founder and National Director of Organic Consumers Association, Ronnie Cummins. Additionally, an e-mail to the Organic Trade Association produced a response from Holly Givens, Communications Director.
Gary, at ALBA, said [emphasis mine], "The most prevailing source of pathogens typically are not the materials used in the nutrients, but in the handling. There is no discrimination between organic and conventional growing."
Ronnie Cummins told me, "Patterns of disinformation like this in the press can be traced to Dennis Avery and the Hudson Institute." The Hudson Institute is described by SourceWatch.org:
While describing itself as "non-partisan" and preferring to portray itself as independently "contrarian" rather than as a conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute gains financial support from many of the foundations and corporations that have bankrolled the conservative movement. The Capital Research Center, a conservative group that seeks to rank non-profits and documents their funding, allocates Hudson as a 7 on its ideological spectrum with 8 being "Free Market Right" and 1 "Radical Left."
Avery is the Director of a branch of the Hudson Institute called the Center for Global Food Policies. Through some pretty slick Orwellian language, including their development of the "Earth Friendly, Farm Friendly" label
Avery himself is the source of a claim that organic food is more dangerous to eat than food produced using chemicals. Nice! (Go read the whole piece: Avery conveniently manufactures a quote from 'Dr. Robert Tauxe, chief of the CDC's Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, saying, 'Organic food means a food was grown in animal manure.' " Tauxe and the CDC take extreme exception to Avery's propaganda, and it is nothing more than propaganda.
The Hudson Institute is funded in part by the following entities:
Castle Rock Foundation: "founded in 1993 with an endowment of $36,596,253 from the Adolph Coors Foundation."
Koch Family Foundation: started by two billionaire gas-and-oil industry brothers whose father, Fred, was a member of the John Birch Society.
Olin Foundation: chemical and munitions money
Add to that list these 2002 funders: Exxon, Cargill, ConAgra Foods, DuPont, Fannie Mae (quel scandal!), General Electric, McDonald's, MONSANTO, National Agriculture Chemical Association, PayPal, Procter & Gamble, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Sunkist Growers, Syngenta Crop Protection, and United Agri Products.
What is a fact is that conventional agriculture itself doesn't regulate the use of raw manure in crops. More appalling is that animal manure is fed right back to the animals. This, says Ronnie Cummins, is the reason the government suggests "you treat your kitchen as a biohazard zone."
Holly Givens replied:
"I do not know what this shopper [in the SacBee article] is talking about. Organic food products are subject to all federal, state and local food safety requirements. I do not know of any studies examining rates of food borne illness by method of agriculture used to produce the food.
You might find these fact sheets helpful: https://www.ota.com/organic/foodsafety.html
For many shoppers, use of pesticides is a safety issue, and they choose organic products because organic farmers do not use toxic and persistent pesticides.
So. A letter to Ms. Gwen Schoen is in order. If you hear someone expressing the notion that there is anything unsafe about organic produce, kindly whap them in the face with some rancid commercial bacon, okay? (Not really.) Just cite the facts...and cite Avery's lies.
The bottom line is that the production of compost in California is strictly regulated: Larkey says farmers are limited to how much they can produce on their own farms, which is why he drives all over hill and dale to find the good stuff. The production involves making sure the heat reaches 140 degrees, for one thing.
Boy, do I feel sorry for the food-phobic sometimes.
• • • • • • • • • • •
And that's all she wrote.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.” — Benjamin Franklin
Thanks for visiting.