Apples vs Oranges?
Yet another study - this time in today's Washington Post:
The environmental footprint of organic vs. conventional food
comes to a fairly simple conclusion: "Organic food is no better than regular food, a study finds."
I wonder how many will read what, as of this writing, is the sole comment. There's more understanding there than in the article itself. It stands on its own so I'll quote it here to give it a little more exposure:
Tawster wrote (italics mine):
You did something really subtle there. You changed the wording a bit there: The study is comparing "yields" and not "productivity". Big difference. I was scratching my head for a bit as I read because I knew that "productivity" of organic crops generally crushed conventional every time, though, dependent on the practice of the farmer, "yields" could be mixed.
Productivity is a measure of NET yield. I.e., after cost is factored in. Yields can be more or less than conventional, but the cost endured for conventional crop production is massive in comparison to organic. Costs include raw costs, like seed, fertilizer, fuel, herbicides, fungicides, labor. Those are a bit more for conventional generally, but it could be comparable in many cases. But where conventional falls face down is in *externalized* costs: ground water poisoning, air pollution, MRSA and virulent E. coli outbreaks, slurry lagoon breeches, soil loss, etc. etc.
i.e., The costs of conventional farming, often are more than the value of the crop they produce.
If you move to modern beyond-organic farmers, even their yields blow away conventional and organic and are the most yielding *and* productive farms on the planet.
This is trivially simple stuff. Why is the press not getting it right? I don't understand.
I think Tawster's being polite. It's actually not that hard to understand. The big money's not on organic, as evident in the attempt by Monsanto et al to defeat California's Proposition 37 (which seeks clear labelling of genetically modified products). Here's what it looked like as at the beginning of September. These are the companies seeking to prevent labelling of GMO foods in California; and the money they are spending to attempt to keep customers in the dark. Some are no surprise and some actually sell certified organic food. (Source: Big Ag Drops Another $13 Million to Defeat Food Labeling Prop)
- MONSANTO COMPANY $4,208,000.00
- E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO. $4,025,200.00
- PEPSICO, INC. $1,716,300.00
- BASF PLANT SCIENCE $1,642,300.00
- BAYER CROPSCIENCE $1,618,400.00
- DOW AGROSCIENCES LLC $1,184,800.00
- NESTLE USA, INC. $1,169,400.00
- COCA-COLA NORTH AMERICA $1,164,400.00
- CONAGRA FOODS $1,076,700.00
- SYNGENTA CORPORATION $821,300.00
- KELLOGG COMPANY $632,500.00
- GENERAL MILLS, INC. $519,401.17
- HERSHEY COMPANY $498,006.72
- THE J.M. SMUCKER COMPANY $388,000.00
- COUNCIL FOR BIOTECH. INFO. $375,000.00
- GROCERY MFRS. ASSOCIATION $375,000.00
- HORMEL FOODS CORPORATION $374,300.00
- BIMBO BAKERIES USA $338,300.00
- PIONEER HI-BRED INT $310,100.00
- OCEAN SPRAY CRANBERRIES, INC. $301,553.21
- PINNACLE FOODS GROUP LLC $266,100.00
- DEAN FOODS COMPANY $253,950.00
- BIOTECH INDUSTRY ORG. $252,000.00
- MCCORMICK & COMPANY, INC. $248,200.00
- WM. WRIGLEY JR. COMPANY $237,664.90
- RICH PRODUCTS CORPORATION $225,537.15
- CARGILL, INC. $202,229.36
- DEL MONTE FOODS COMPANY $189,974.61
- KNOUSE FOODS COOPERATIVE, INC. $135,831.53
- MARS FOOD NORTH AMERICA $100,242.69
- BUMBLE BEE FOODS, LLC $98,073.62
- SUNNY DELIGHT BEVERAGES $96,952.57
- SARA LEE CORPORATION $96,833.22
- CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY $70,454.91
- SOLAE, LLC $61,207.43
- MCCAIN FOODS USA, INC. $52,295.63
- DOLE $45,580.05
- C. H. GUENTHER & SON, INC. $24,189.18
- LAND O'LAKES, INC. $21,513.78
- HERO NORTH AMERICA $21,044.96
- MORTON SALT $20,957.42
- INVENTURE FOODS, INC. $11,343.80
- GODIVA CHOCOLATIER, INC. $11,121.53
- HOUSE-AUTRY MILLS, INC. $1,077.27
- RICHELIEU FOODS, INC. $165.80
Some of these big names have organic food divisions or subsidiaries. This fairly recent chart will give you some insight:
I'm going to keep Tawster's comment handy for when I encounter the next blinkered article, claiming organic is more expensive than conventional agriculture.