Organic vs Non Organic Foods

American Sweet-Potato Girl is the star of a video outlining her experiment to sprout a potato the good ol’ fashioned way – in a jug of water.  Three weeks later, no sprouts. She asked her greengrocer about it.

It’s sprayed with “Bud Nip”, he said (Chlorpropham), try an organic one. One week later, the organic spud was a veritable factory of leafy vines. Which potato would you rather eat?

In the Chemical Corner

In Australia, Chlorpropham is used to stop potatoes, onions and garlic from sprouting so that they can be stored for up to eight months, according to a report by the former National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals.

I wonder how much vitality they contain after such a long snooze, and if scrubbing or peeling eliminates this chemical which comes with significant handling and first-aid instructions for those who apply it.

Carbendazim is a fungicide used on apples to control mildew, mould, rot and disease during long term cold storage.

A 2007 report from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) notes that it causes possible birth defects and male infertility in lab animals.  After further research, in 2010 the APVMA cancelled carbendazim’s use on grapes, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, melons, citrus fruit, mango, apples, pears, and stone fruit. And in 2011, another APVMA review proposed discontinued use on bananas, strawberries, ginger and sugar cane until more research could be done.

Until 2005, Endosulfan, a pesticide used for insect control, was used in Australia on leafy vegetables, berry fruits (including grapes), bananas, sorghum, maize, peanuts, legume vegetables, bulb vegetables, sweet corn, cereals, pulses and oil seeds. Another APVMA report discontinued that use.

Word to your mother: How much more research needs to be done before we can be sure of safe ingestion levels?

Designer Veg

I wonder what impact eating “super sweet corn”, which contains more sugar than standard corn, will have on the younger generation who prefer it (according to a NSW Department of Primary Industries report). Why are we making things sweeter when obesity and Type 2 diabetes are primary national health concerns?

Apparently we’re so beholden to the newest, hottest, latest that this now applies to our fruit and veg too.

“Monsanto invests heavily in research and development to bring new varieties to market that our customers haven’t seen before,” says Tony Mulcahy from vegetable seeds developer and grower, Seminis, on its website.

Monsanto developed the seedless watermelon, because we can’t be bothered spitting them out. Japanese companies are growing square water melons for easier shipping and fridge-stacking.

Genetically modified foods are designed to provide higher nutritional value, longer shelf life and offer greater resistance to pests and agricultural disease. Food today lacks its innate nutritional value due to modern agricultural practices that demand unrealistic performance from the land, without respecting its need fallow time. Longer shelf life is necessary for products shipped too far from home, using precious energy resources, all for consumer convenience.

GM- modified canola, soybean and corn products that end up in so many processed foods –cakes, confectionary, cereals, mayonnaise, chocolate, spreads, syrups, margarine, snack foods and fried foods – are still the subject of much debate with regard to long term public health and environmental impact.

In the Organics Corner

Organic farming seeks natural ecological solutions to resolve pest issues and offers a respect for the natural order of things from free range animals with more natural diets, to seasonal planting and farming that does not overwork the land. Avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilisers means that groundwater also remains safe.  Organic farming techniques work to preserve soil fertility and stability, not to erode it.

Choosing organic is an opportunity to re-evaluate a lifestyle that values convenience, instant gratification and mass satisfaction at great cost to the environment, animal welfare and our own future health.

For my money, organic food remains the safer choice for public health, and the Earth.