The Soil Association’s Lee Holdstock Digs Deeper into Organic Headlines

With the Soil Association’s ‘Organic September’ celebration only four days old, it’s good to see the dailies running stories on organic food this week. Much as we like to see open debate, headlines suggesting that organic food might be no better for us are not exactly the coverage the organic movement had hoped for. We’ve certainly seen this before, nothing new, but the big concern is that many mums and dads won’t look beyond the sensationalist headlines as they plan their next shop. Certainly give me something talk about for my first babablog.

OK, so not only does this latest piece of US research employ a shaky methodology more suited to medical research, but  it also suffers the unavoidable challenge of remaining meaningful in a world where long-term health-related studies on organic food are scarce. But hang on, forget how the study was conducted, there’s something even more odd here. As you dig into the story beneath these unnecessarily negative headlines, you unearth contradictions. Interestingly it seems that the Stanford based study authors not only admit that organic food reduces exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but they go on to acknowledge UK research showing that organic milk has more Omega-3 fatty acids “thought to be important for brain development in infants and for cardiovascular health”. Yet astonishingly the headlines say it’s not healthier.

Anyway, even if like The Telegraph’s Harry Wallop, you’re happy that “tomorrow, the baby is going to get an extra dollop of pesticide-sprayed carrots”, you might want to consider the other reasons to stick with organic. Produced by innovative farmers who avoid high energy chemical input in their quest to harness natural process to their advantage, organic continues to be a no-brainer for consumers who care about things like animal welfare and leaving the planet in a better state for their kids. At the end of the day, organic is not just about nutrition content, as The Huffington Post’s Sarah Pinneo points out “It’s what’s not running off the fields and into the water supply. And it’s what’s not poisoning the people who work in those fields, and the honeybees who pollinate them”.  

It seems as if some in the media and scientific community remain eager to find fault with organic food, insinuating that any conscientious parents keen to reduce their family’s exposure to chemicals are naive victims an elaborate marketing scam. The diehard naysayers need to appreciate the fact that more than 50% of babyfood on the supermarket shelves is organic, which speaks volumes about parents wanting the best for their families and using their own common sense and long may they continue to do so.