MythBusting 101: Scientific American Blog Generates Healthy Debate on Farming

7/22/2011 10:36 AM


We ran across this excellent blog post which appeared in Scientific American earlier this week. It’s generating some interesting Internet discussion with a lot of very good information being provided from all sides of the debate.  While this blog post is titled, Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture, the author’s conclusion doesn’t favor one over the other.  In fact, Wilcox writes as follows:

 “The biggest myth when it comes to organic farming is that you have to choose sides. Guess what? You don’t. . . . You, the wise and intelligent consumer, don’t have to buy into either side’s propaganda and polarize to one end or another. You can, instead, be somewhere along the spectrum, and encourage both ends to listen up and work together to improve our global food resources and act sustainably.”

We couldn’t agree more and we very much appreciate the author’s exceedingly well-done effort to clear up some of the misconceptions many people have about farming. 

What we like most about this article is that addresses many of the false assertions we hear about both conventional and organic farming. Since the Alliance for Food and Farming is an organization of farmers who produce both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables, our goal is to communicate that both are exceedingly safe. The fact is, the lines which separate these two farming systems are becoming increasingly blurred –particularly when it comes to farming fruits and vegetables.  Both conventional and organic produce farmers absolutely must care for and nurture the soil, both regularly practice crop rotation, both monitor pests and utilize beneficial insects for control and both use pesticides as sparingly as possible. Most importantly, they both must follow very strict regulations for how and which pesticides can be applied.

Yes, nutritional differences exist between organic and conventional fruits and vegetables.  But no research has conclusively found one is better than the other. Consumers should buy both with confidence and make their selection based on quality, availability, flavor and cost at the time of purchase – just like they do with any other consumer good.  This constant need to “scare” people about one form of farming over another is not conducive to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Here is where the science is indisputable – people should be eating more fruits and vegetables for good health. If everyone were to eat the recommended number of produce servings (which the USDA now defines as “half your plate”), neither conventional nor organic farming could supply enough! But if they did, we’d all be a lot healthier.

We encourage you to read this excellent article and we thank Christie Wilcox very much for opening a real discussion on this important topic.

Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture, Scientifc American, July 18, 2011.

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