So I’m doing some training as an SAT tutor, and in the practice test there’s a writing and language section where the passage is supposedly about organic food. It basically goes over the “arguments” suggesting that studies show there is no difference between conventional and organic. The passage ends with: “buying organic is a waste of money”.
It makes it seem as though it is questionable as to whether conventional agriculture has polluted, and represents that pollution only as “potentially” harmful to the environment.
Curiously, the questions are relatively harder grammar questions with a number of real stickler questions which makes the reading and completion of the section somewhat frustrating.
The following section, curiously, is about how “intriguing” the differences are between what words people use to refer to popular foods.
The section centers on colas and talks about in-depth research that has not yet been completed but was nationwide to see whether people used the word “pop”, “coke”, or “soda”…
It even shows a map that identifies which areas people use which term primarily.
It is filled with positive words about research being interesting, fascinating, exciting, and how the internet is really so meaningful and powerful to find things out.
I had an opportunity to share my thoughts about how I felt about the first passage (before reading the second), but couldn’t really even begin to express how bullshit it was. I started saying something about how people are dying because of their food choices but I was nearly overwhelmed with a mix of feelings mixing rage and sadness like I didn’t know if I’d like to hit someone or start crying – which was a stark contrast from the previous state I thought I was in which was my regular day to day like kind of funny/clever/intelligent person I kind of think I am…
Anyhow, after reading the 2nd passage, the contrast between the deep interest in research about what people call sodas as though this is a wonderful lark versus hey thinking about organic or conventional… it’s all the same… nothing to see there…
I realized what I would say is a solid argument against this “conventional vs. organic” doesn’t matter… save your money “whatever” “argument”…
First of all…
Are all conventionally grown foods the same?
Anyone who has done any research should know that different soils contain different amounts of nutrients. Some soils are famously deficient in selenium while others like in certain parts of China are so high that people have gotten sick.
Some pesticides are arsenic based while other times farmers may simply spray cayenne on their crops.
Some organically grown foods are produced with more pesticides than conventional.
I like that one… because it can level the playing field.
Most people who are “health nuts” etc… will probably be assumed to be “organic only” advocates etc… but they could share that they’re not just after a label – they honestly want to be healthy and they honestly want to not pollute unnecessarily.
I believe that most people desire both health and to not be responsible for actually causing harm… as far as I could tell most of the people in the room were comfortable just shrugging off whether “organic” means anything.
But they haven’t thought it through.
They have been inoculated against it by passages such as these – articles and “research” – such as the studies cited in the passage. One study from Stanford compared something like 250 farms and found no significant differences between conventional and organic.
Well, perhaps it’s true. Perhaps certain nutrients are not found to be lacking in conventionally grown produce…
But I know from personal experience that if I miss the farmer’s market, I don’t feel so fresh.
I also know that there’s a reason why people grow conventionally.
Some of those reasons are for chemical pest control.
Chemical pest control HAS an impact on the environment.
On the bare minimum… its impact includes… killing lots of pests. Other animals that would have eaten those pests have to either eat something else or die or perhaps they eat the pests who have ingested some kind of something that can kill pests…
Somehow we are to assume that there is a spray that will kill lots of bugs but will be harmless to humans? It certainly seems possible, but most pesticides for home use have skulls and crossbones on them and I doubt anyone would take a spray of them on their sandwich or salad even if it came with a 50% discount on their meal.
Anyhow, we can go into the research, but it won’t be as fun as asking whether you say “pop” or “soda” or whether you call a sandwich a “hoagie”, a “hero”, or a “sub”.
But just because it’s more fun to play around with the words we use for junk food, doesn’t mean it’s a better place to do research than in figuring out what’s healthier.
For me, in general, I don’t want to know that I’m doing something unhealthy or harmful. If you ask my wiser self, he/she/it whatever will say let me know the truth so that I can act with best interest, but the day to day is like “don’t bother me… I’m eating” or… “change is costly”…
Who wants to know that their cheaper diet that saves them money (supposedly) has a cost in their health and their impact on the environment and their ability to honestly believe that they are not really a great cause of pollution on the planet?
Even people that claim their food decisions are based in ethics (COUGH vegans cough cough), often do not seem to be willing to “go organic” or to find out how their food really is grown…
Because they want to believe they don’t kill animals and this would bother them to know that they’re paying for pest control (most growers whether “organic” or “conventional” are handling plenty of “pests”).
Who wants to think of themselves as having less health than optimal due to their own decisions?
Few, I would imagine.
Anyhow, there may be a wall up against reason for many, but I expect that most people simply haven’t been exposed to arguments and experience.
Most have not spent a few days eating fresh from the vine, nor have they seen pesticides and herbicides in action.