Thursday, December 6, 2007

14 Block Diet Day Four

Here is a great expose on organic food, which is, in my well-informed opinion, mostly a big waste of money. You might as well just set your money on fire as to shop at "Whole Paycheck".

Organic food exposed
Issue 16 of Cosmos, August 2007
by Elizabeth Finkel

It’s a booming trend, driven by public perception that food produced minus pesticides and fertilisers is healthier and better for the planet. We examine the science to see if the evidence stacks up.

I love my local organic food store. From the moment I enter, I enjoy the aromas that greet me and the folksy look of the place. But is organic food really any better for me? The perceived wisdom is that it's more 'pure' and 'natural', devoid of disease-causing pesticides; that organic farming "generates healthy soils" and "doesn't poison ecosystems with toxic chemicals".

Organic food is riding a surge in popularity; across the globe, sales of organic food are burgeoning. The global market in 2006 was estimated at close to an impressive US$40 billion (A$47.9 billion) by Organic Monitor, an industry research body, and growing 20 per cent annually in the U.S. and Canada.

And where consumers go, the multinational food companies follow: everyone from Uncle Tobys to Kraft, Heinz, Kelloggs and even Coca-Cola has jumped on the bandwagon. And developing countries are joining in too: China's organic exports grew 200-fold in a decade to reach US$200 million in 2004. Australia is also a major exporter, and plans to increase its organic produce by 50 per cent by 2012.

But is this belief in organic food based on faith, or evidence?

THE SURPRISING FACT IS that this mass migration to organic food has not been on the back of scientific evidence. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find comprehensive evidence that organic food is healthier – either for us or the planet. Nevertheless, in the public consciousness, organic farming is unquestioningly bundled with the reigning moral imperatives of sustainability, protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gases.

Certainly there are historical reasons for concern. In the 1950s and 1960s, the pesticide DDT was blamed for the widespread thinning of bird eggs across North America, and the rapid decline of the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. Over-intensive grain farming in the U.S. Midwest led to fertiliser run-off into the Mississippi River that ultimately created a 20,000 square kilometre dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, as algal blooms sucked up available oxygen. Soils that were tilled for decades without crop rotation or replacing organic matter led to dust storms that wreaked havoc across Australia in the 1960s and the American and Canadian prairies in the 1930s, the latter so vividly depicted in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

These days, modern farming techniques have evolved after decades of pressure from the environmental movement and decades of work by a generation of scientists inspired by environmental awareness. In fact, conventional farming is starting to look a lot like organic farming.

The earthworm-rich soils, so prized by organic farmers, are being achieved through contemporary no-till (or no-plough) techniques. In Australia, most farmers use rotation to get crops out of synchronisation with weeds and to return nutrients to the soil. Natural predators are being used to control pests, and companies such as Dow Chemical are producing safe, short-acting pesticides. In fact Dow's latest pesticide, Spinosad, is also happily used by organic farmers because it is naturally produced by bacteria.

"There's been a quiet revolution in Australian farming over the last decade," says Mark Peoples, the assistant chief of the Division of Plant Industry at Australia's national research agency CSIRO.


8AM 1 egg, 3 oz salmon, 1 slice diabetic lifestyles bread, .5 apple = 3 blocks

8:30AM .5 cup milk = .5 block

Noon 10 oz zucchini, 1 package Trader Joe's Yellow Tuna Curry = 3 blocks

3PM 1 package smoked oysters, 1 slice diabetic lifestyles bread, tablespoon avocado = 2 blocks + 2x fat

6PM Muscle Milk Bar = 3 blocks

9PM 5 oz chicken thigh, .5 package dal, 8 oz vegetables = 3.5 blocks

Block Target = 14 blocks

Block Total = 14 blocks +.2x fat

Five rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
75 pound Sumo deadlift high-pull, 21 reps
75 pound Thruster, 21 reps
Time: 26:44

Bike Ride 10 miles, flat, low intensity, fixed gear

1 comment:

TomC said...

While not without value, the linked article makes few attempts to back up its claims with references. Instead, in many cases, anecdotal evidence is presented as fact.

Her claims that new pesticides are just fine is particularly suspect. The US EPA cannot even come close to testing or verifying the health effects of the thousands of new chemicals introduced every year.

She is right that the world's population is fed thanks to synthetically produced nitrogen. Natural gas is the feedstock used for much of that. Good thing natural gas an inexhaustible resource that will be cheap and abundant for as far as the eye can see...

Some points the author makes are valid, but such a piece does not lend itself well to serious scrutiny. Few references + sweeping claims + the idea that everything is gonna be alright = suspicion.