Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Skeptoid #166

Organic food part 2

Anecdotally speaking, organic foods really seem to be a popular sacred cow within the skeptical community. I glean this mostly from the SGU forum. Perhaps this is why Dunning seemed to take extra time spelling out why organic foods are not worth the extra money paid for them, and why the term “organic” is deceptive in the first place. Also, it may also be why he kept insisting there was nothing wrong with organic foods, except (and I am taking some liberties) that they are stupid since after all it is a waste of money.

The other night I watched the Penn & Teller “Bullshit” episode dealing with organic foods, and let me say they were not nearly as deferential for calling organic foods bullshit. (synchronicity?) I must give Mr. Dunning credit, that while his podcast was shorter and missing the visual element, I probably learned more about the true lack of difference between organic and “normally” grown agricultural products than on Penn & Teller’s show. No matter how much you try to avoid it we’re going to get trace amounts from fertilizers in our bodies, it is just the way it is. Who knew that seawater was being used to gain the constituent fertilizer parts? He found the breakdown of deaths from overdoses of farm fertilizer by type and country. His investigative skills are always impressive.

My take away from Skeptoid, Penn & Teller, and just listening to people who buy organic foods (at least in South Central Pennsylvania) is that what it really is a status symbol to show that “I care.” As the P&T showed that when confronted with the evidence that the organic consumer can’t tell the difference between organic or normal food then they rationalize the purchase for non-existent nutritional value. It does not matter that it probably is not helping mother Earth, and might actually be worse for the environment overall. (see Skeptoid #162) A consumer gets to consume what they wish to chow down upong, spend a little more cash for it, and feel better about the whole thing while tooling around in their Insight, Prius, or gasp! Navigator. As always Mr. Dunning was precise, to the point, and very informative.

Look! The Amateur Scientist Podcast is new! Maybe that will be might next post. Until then . . .

You’re reading the Skeptical Review, I am Nigel St.Whitehall at

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