A Cornucopia of News: The Anti-Organic Straw Man, Pesticides and Food Allergies, More Irradiation …December 26th, 2012
The Anti-Organic Straw Man
If you’ve been eating organic foods to increase your daily intake of zinc and copper, two common nutrients found in a variety of foods, we’ve got news for you. A recent study from Denmark compared organic and conventional diets and found no difference in zinc and copper absorption.
Why are we reporting the findings of a study that found no differences in levels of two abundant nutrients? Because others are, and it shows how desperate the agrochemical industry and their mouthpieces have become in their embarrassing attempts to shift public opinion away from supporting organics.
It’s the agrochemical industry’s straw man argument: ignore toxic and carcinogenic pesticides and their food residues, genetically engineered crops, synthetic fertilizers, fumigants, solvents, and all the other toxins used in conventional food production, and focus instead on levels of a handful of prevalent nutrients.
It’s the only way they’ll ever be able to score their prized “organics no better than conventional” headlines, but it’s clearly a strategy that is destined for failure.
As mainstream organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health continue urging Americans to choose foods that were not treated with pesticides, people will continue to turn to organic foods for all the right reasons—and they don’t include zinc and copper.
NOTE: A number of peer-reviewed published studies indicate that organic food is indeed higher in many essential nutrients, antioxidants and beneficial compounds.
Food Allergies and Pesticides
Scientific studies have linked pesticides to autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Now, there’s yet another reason to support organic farmers: a recent study links pesticides to food allergies.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University found an association between high urine levels of dichlorophenol, a chemical commonly used in pesticides, and food allergies.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, concluded: “Excessive use of dichlorophenols may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernized societies.”
The incidence of food allergies among children has indeed been on the rise, increasing 18% between 1997 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to Dr. Elina Jerschow, the study’s lead author, “the results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.”
NOTE: USDA research has indicated organic fruits and vegetables contained demonstrably lower levels of toxic agrichemical residues.
FDA Expands Irradiation Uses for Meat and Poultry
Processors that use ionized radiation to kill pathogens in meat and poultry now have expanded options, thanks to two rules published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November.
The FDA’s first rule allows for the irradiation of unrefrigerated raw meat. Previously, only refrigerated or frozen meats could be irradiated. The second rule ups the dose of absorbed ionizing radiation in poultry from 3.0 kilogray (kGy) to 4.5 kGy. While this higher dose is already allowed in meat and molluscan shellfish, the limit had remained at 3.0 kGy for poultry until now.
The two rules were issued in response to two petitions filed in 1999 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The FDA says that since that time, it has received many comments from consumer advocacy groups requesting the denial of both petitions. However, these comments “were of a general nature” and “did not contain any substantive information that could be used in a safety evaluation,” said the FDA.
Irradiation exposes food to high doses of ionizing radiation to kill bacteria. In the process it depletes vitamins and nutrients and causes the creation of known toxins and new chemicals. Research has shown health problems in lab animals fed irradiated food, including genetic damage and cancer. The use of irradiation is prohibited in organic food production. Read the full story here.
A Yummy Gift Idea
The Cornucopia Institute’s Poll Lists Scores of Favorite Food-Related Reads
A question posted on Cornucopia’s Facebook page asked visitors what books they’d recently read and would recommend on food-related topics. “The response was overwhelming,” said Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia’s Codirector. “Our members and supporters intimately understand the challenges our nation is facing when it comes to food, and its relationship to health and the environment, and they are educating themselves on how to take action on these serious issues.”
The most popular book came from Virginia farmer and lecturer, Joel Salatin: Folks, This Ain’t Normal. Several other Salatin books made the list as well: Holy Cows and Hog Heaven and You Can Farm. Salatin, an outspoken advocate for grass-based livestock production and farming was featured in the 2008 Oscar-nominated documentary Food Inc., as was University of California, Berkeley professor Michael Pollan, who also made the top 10 list with his 2006 best-selling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by journalist Barry Estabrook received numerous mentions as well. “I’ll never look at a tomato the same way again,” said Cornucopia Facebook fan, Autumn T.
Novelists Barbara Kingsolver and Jonathan Safran Foer also made the list with their forays into food. Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle received numerous mentions, as did Foer’s Eating Animals, which explores his emotional and contemplative journey into vegetarianism. To view the full list of reading suggestions, click here.
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At year’s end, as we reflect and celebrate the holiday season with our friends and family, let’s recommit to supporting ethical, organic and sustainable farmers and the food companies who put people and the planet first.
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