Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Organic Food Scam

By Alan Caruba

Once, years ago, I was in a Midwestern State talking with a farmer. I raised the question of how much pesticide he used on his crop to ward off or kill insect predators or, in the case of weeds, how much herbicide.

“Look, my family and I eat a part of what I grow,” he said. “Do you think I am going to put anything on the crop that would endanger them?” Good answer.

I thought about that encounter while reading a really extraordinary book by an organic crop inspector that just blows the whole scam about organic foods wide open. “Is It Organic?” is a 599-page book by Mischa Popoff that comes with a wonderful history of farming while revealing why the public is being conned into believing that organic foods are safer and better for them when all they are is more expensive.

The book is available from If you’re a consumer interested in environmentalism, the history and politics of organic foods, or you are involved in agriculture the price is worth it. If you like plain talk and honest outrage, every fact-filled page will prove far more educational than most of the literature about environmentalism, energy, socialism, and agriculture than you will find anywhere.

“I believed in the principle of producing top-quality food and letting the market decide if it was worth more. Still do in fact,” writes Popoff. “But I learned the organic industry abandoned living up to that principle long ago.”

The secret this multi-billion dollar industry doesn’t want anyone to know is that “there is no field testing on certified organic farms to ensure synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals are not being used and to ensure harmful pathogens from animal waste are safely eliminated. The excuse I was given is that field testing is too expensive; something I later learned is patently false.”

“Testing in the field goes straight to the heart of what organic farming always meant throughout its vibrant history, until it was ruined by political activists. You’ll hear talk of end-product testing, but it’s a BIG waste of time. Synthetic chemicals dissipate if you wait long enough.”

“Honest organic farmers want field testing and so do consumers; so why is it rejected in this multi-billion dollar industry at the same time as it’s talked about as if it was the routine?”

Popoff explains that, “Organic food sold from one end of this continent to the other, whether grown locally or overseas, becomes ‘certified’ based on paperwork refereed by activist private-sector bureaucrats who make money hand over fist by giving their stamp of approval.”

Like global warming, organic food is a scam and it is run by an “unscientific, undemocratic, radical socialist movement” that eclipses the organic farmer “and bilks consumers in order to underwrite a political revolution that is about to impact your ability to feed your family.”

Food Pornography

Popoff calls it “food pornography”, an industry that calls itself organic, “but which is really just pure marketing from start to finish, promising everything and delivering nothing.”

“The genius of claiming that private companies test organic food,” says Popoff, “before they accept it as truly organic and put their corporate brand on it lies in the fact that there’s no possible way to know if it’s true.”

This is a very refreshing book to read on many levels and it’s worth knowing the author did not grow up in some suburban enclave and lived a privileged life. He was a farm boy “My family didn’t have a phone ‘til I was seven and I got my first horse before we got a television. I learned to drive a tractor and the bail truck when I was ten, and I got my first car, a three-speed standard, at the age of twelve.”

Far from the usual story of some PhD holding forth based solely on academic study and research, Popoff worked his way through college “grinding hamburger on the graveyard shift at a local grocery store.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1991 with honors in history and a minor in philosophy.

I doubt that “Is it Organic?” will leap onto the bestseller lists, but it deserves to be widely noted and widely read. It’s the literary equivalent of a lighted dynamite stick, exciting to read and thrillingly honest, a dangerous book in the best possible way.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


David said...

Excellent post.

Another great book on this topic: The Truth About Organic Food by Alex Avery.

Rich Kozlovich said...

Once again another greenie lie that has become accepted as truth because a corrupt media refuses to expose them, and another money making scheme for these charlatans.

What is really frustrating is the arrogant condescension from those who have bought into this nonsense.

There really isn’t anything quite so irritating as being condescended to by idiots.

LarryOldtimer said...

I was one of those farm boys, Alan, and can well remember before the days of synthetic insecticides, weed killers, and before we got electricity on that farm. I was plowing fields when I was 7 years old (WWII years), bless that "popping Johnny" John Deere tractor, so easy to control, it was.

I was the wee lad who had to pick the "bugs" from vegetable plants, trim weeds by use of a scythe, and be bothered no end by flies and mosquito's and other nasty bugs and insects. No thank you is my answer to any return of those conditions (although perhaps it is getting time to express the "thank you" part in other terms).

Plants all manufacture within themselves natural insecticides, more toxic per dosage than synthetic insecticides, in more toxic quantities than are sprayed by farmers, just to keep themselves from being eaten by insects.

Another greenie-weinie lie, by those who loath humanity, and wish to do us evil.

allen said...

I’ve been in the organic movement for 25 years in all phases of the industry. Organic farmer, organic grain buyer, organic processor, organic dairy farmer, and currently organic inspector.

My experience is the vast overall majority of organic farmers are hard working honest people trying to make a living and trying to survive on their farm against all odds.

Yes, there are cheaters in the organic industry. But, there are cheaters in ALL facets of life. over the years I’ve learned one thing. Eventually ALL cheaters go away. Either they go away because the industry participants figure it out and ostracize them or in some cases they go to jail for fraud. But, the idea that organic food isn’t better for you or that all organic producers should be tested is simply outrageous.

So, I’m not interested in your message. That’s why I want to unsubscribe. You’re wasting your energy and it sounds like you have a personal vendetta rather than a true cause.

That sure was a huge waste of time to write that book if the above is true. And based on MY vast experience in the organic world I refuse to believe what you have written is true about the organic movement as a whole.

Yes, there are problems out there. But, eventually the rays of light cleanse all, and while the organic movement isn’t doing it the way you want, I still believe it’s a far superior food system that our government’s cheap food policy.

If you want a REAL cause to latch onto you should investigate the USDA’s movement towards the complete deregulation of ALL GMO plants and animals.

Now that’s something that should scare the hell out of you.

Best regards,

Allen Moody
Organic Inspector

Alan Caruba said...

@Allan Moody:
Your argument is with Mishcha Popoff, the auhtor of "Is It Organic?" Also a longtime inspector who grew tired of the notion that crops grown "organically" where in any way superior to those employing pesticides, herbicides, etc., to protect them.

Popioff is not the only one to write about organic farming in an unflattering way.

Little wonder you do not like the message, but you can "unsubscribe any time you want."

Sharonkay said...

Hi. I came across this blog while doing some casual research on organic foods. I agree with this article about organic foods being a ripoff. There are so many poor people in the US and other countries who can barely afford groceries as it is. I am one of these poor people. I am not going to spend twice to three times the amount of money on organic foods. I just buy most of my food from the local grocery store, and shop around the perimeter of the store, where most of the produce, dairy, eggs, meat, fish and poultry are at. I don't buy too much in the center aisles, except for canned tomatoes, fruit, beans,oils and spices.