There has been much controversy on the question of organics and whether it is worth paying the extra money. Debebe Daidone, an industrial-scale organic farmer, gives us his opinion. Are organics worth it? Here’s what he has to say:
Being that the consumption of organic food is a relatively new phenomenon, and the limited research that has been carried out on people who have eaten organics for a prolonged period of time, the debate over the nutritional value of organic versus conventional food is quite controversial and vast.
Some reputable researchers claim that they had found conclusive evidence that organically grown plants contained higher levels of nutrients than those grown by conventional methods. Other equally reputable agencies report suggesting there is no sufficient evidence in support of the nutritional superiority of organic food.
It is very confusing at this moment. I guess we need more time and more research to obtain a concrete conclusion whereby everyone agrees. Once we know for sure that conventionally grown products are inferior in nutritional values to that of organics, then we may be able to study if the chemical products are responsible for the shortage.
It is crystal clear, however, that a diet of organic food eliminates the main source of our exposure to poisonous pesticides. And just as important, organic production reduces environmental contamination. If you ask me, I think we should worry about the environment and introducing poison to our bodies before we worry about nutritional values.
When you wash and disinfect your melons and broccoli you are physically removing chemical residues from the outside, and chemically killing microbial contamination like salmonella and E. coli. That is a very important and good practice. However, in the case of conventional produce, after fumigation or fertilization with certain products, chemicals are absorbed by the plant through its roots, leaves, and stems (systemic). You can not clean the chemicals systemically absorbed by the plant. That is inside the fruit.
When it comes to nutritional values, the most important thing to remember is the freshness and post-harvest handling of the produce. If not stored or packaged properly, after three or four days on supermarket shelves, the nutritional value of vegetables can be in deficit of up to 50% due to the damaging effects of decay. Of course, you know overcooking is also another way of tossing nutrients out the window. Peeling some veggies, among other things, also removes nutrition.
Follow up article: Organics bite back!
On-site photos by Amity Beane.