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Old 03-20-2014, 03:02 PM   #41
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Going out on a limb, my prediction is this debate will not be resolved here. The science is not yet conclusive and much more evidence is needed to prove or disprove many of the concerns. The debate is also framed in a way that does not lead to an actionable outcome.

“Organic” generally means the absence of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, and food additives. The view that these synthetic products are uniformly unhealthful, or at least more so than their organic counterparts, is not entirely supported by science (nor is the opposite view). That does not mean, however, that their use is free of consequence. Two of these inputs, hormones and antibiotics, have already found their way into humans, causing negative health effects. To assume there is no more risk is a big risk IMHO.

The path to prove a product “safe for human use” is less rigorous than the one needed to regulate or outlaw a product. The assumption that a product is safe comes with no guarantee. The evidence or assessment that a product or process can be used safely does not assure that it will be used safely. Food producers may prioritize productivity and yield over food safety, and there is no way for the consumer to discover this. The risk reward here is unbalanced.

My guess is some synthetic ingredients and processes can be used safely, but we have no way to identify producers that use or follow then, and the incentive is to maximize productivity and disregard the consequence. A certification of organic does not eliminate those concerns but it does address and reduce them.

Choosing one over the other probably has no effect on an almost Medicare-ready old phart like me, but young mothers, soon to be babies and young children are both more susceptible and less well protected. Choosing organic over conventional can provide significant benefit for them. Recalling this recent thread, I prefer to see my children and their families choosing these options, am happy to contribute if need be, and am grateful to be able to make the choice.
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Old 03-20-2014, 03:53 PM   #42
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I'm one of those people who chooses to buy as much organic as possible.

I grow quite a bit of my own food; in my home garden at in a demonstration garden where I work using organic practices in both gardens. I also belong to a CSA to supplement what I grow though I might cancel that when the season ends in November. I can buy the food cheaper at the different year around organic farmers markets. Not sure what you mean. You can not buy organic or non organic for less than you can grow it or you are doing something seriously wrong! I grow thousands of dollars of organic food each season. If I were to buy what I grow and it was not organic it would still cost a lot more than what it costs to grow but it is organic and the difference is huge when you compare purchased organic to grown organic. My garden isn't 10' X 10', it produces a lot and I have cut back except on storage vegetables as they keep well. I still have excess and some of it I freeze if it freezes well. I wanted to try it though and am very happy with their produce. The same Farm adviser I work with at the demo garden teaches classes at the CSA so I know what their practices are based on his input. Even a local organic CSA is cheap, I was surprised at how cheap but they aren't going to give me as much as what I can grow and basically what I grow is free. I buy seeds from time to time but seeds are cheap (I spend about 7-$10 a year) and you get tons of food from just 1 packet that lasts years. Water is from a well so I can't count the electric for watering. I buy fertilizer but a gallon ($35) lasts 1.5 to 2 years, it's concentrated. I have all the tools, stakes, fencing (used in ways you may not consider), the rototiller was a big expense ($550) but has paid for itself. I get free manure now when I want it but I used to pay for it ($60) but that was just every 4 or 5 years. It is your work and time that you spend and if you can't or won't then it is not for you despite you'll have great clean and very inexpensive food.

In the demonstration garden we have been approved to use 3 different pesticides by the County farm adviser, but we choose to not use them if at all possible. They are insecticidal soap, BT (bacillus thuringiensis) and Sluggo (iron phosphate) I use the last 2 and the BT lasted 15 years cost was about $10 at the time) the Sluggo was free!. We kill aphids by spraying with water (yep best way to get rid of them), which will be challenging this year with the drought in CA. We hand pick other pests which would be too labor intensive and costly my philosophy is let the good bugs eat the bad one, BT is used sparingly and some seasons not at all for a garden that is trying to make money.

The price of the food I buy is more than non organics but worth it to me. I have many allergies and even choke up walking near the laundry soap aisle in stores. I feel that the companies that grow or process our food sources have tried to make as much money as possible to keep their stockholders happy at the detriment of those eating or using their products. that's why it is agri-business!

PS..NW-bound.. chicken manure has a higher nitrogen content than steer manure and vegetables are huge nitrogen suckers.yes and no. Corn is a huge consumer of N and it's fine for greeens cuz you want lots of leaf growth but use too much N on other things (tomatoes, peppers, beans, cukes, just about anything else) and you'll have large leafy plants but no veg or fruits! You might try it and compare your results.
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Old 03-20-2014, 04:05 PM   #43
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The farmers market is cheaper than the CSA, not growing my own. Growing my own which is much less expense and also qualifies as a hobby, which I enjoy. As a Master Gardener, I get lots and lots of free seeds,so that is not much of a cost. I buy an occasional straw bale to use as mulch and fertilizer. I have all the hardware, cages, trellising, etc also so no cost unless I need replacement.

The area of CA where I live is known for pretty good soil, but we do need to supplement with a nitrogen replacer before planting our vegetable gardens each season. I use an organic composted pelleted chicken manure that provides the specific poundage needed for each 100 sq feet of planting area. It's easy to use and pretty cheap. One bag covers 500 sq feet, which lasts me maybe 3 years. I only have 4 beds, each 4x8.

I have a very successful garden and we recommend chicken manure over steer manure which is why I suggested it. Each gardener should periodically test their soil so they are not over fertilizing, etc. I have raised beds and know how many pounds I use in each bed every season. We do have regular people from the public that do over fertilize and get all leaf and no fruit. Very sad.

It's nice to hear there are other vegetable gardeners on this site.
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Old 03-20-2014, 05:48 PM   #44
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Going out on a limb, my prediction is this debate will not be resolved here.
But is it really about 'solving/resolving' anything?

We have debates about taking SS early or not, for example. It can't really be 'solved/resolved' unless we know our date of demise, future rates of returns, etc. But discussing the factors that affect the decision can be very, very enlightening.

I think that is all I'm looking for from this discussion. What are the pros/cons of 'organic'? I hope to learn something. I'm a skeptic by nature, I'm skeptical that organic is generally advantageous, just as I'm skeptical that commercial farming is safe. I look to data and education for guidance.


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Two of these inputs, hormones and antibiotics, have already found their way into humans, causing negative health effects.
Can you provide some links to credible sources? I've heard concerns about these, but I'm not aware of specific problems.


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My guess is some synthetic ingredients and processes can be used safely, but we have no way to identify producers that use or follow then, and the incentive is to maximize productivity and disregard the consequence. A certification of organic does not eliminate those concerns but it does address and reduce them.

... I prefer to see my children and their families choosing these options, am happy to contribute if need be, and am grateful to be able to make the choice.
Well, I think this is debatable. I was a bit surprised about the debate over the safety (in the link NW_Bound provided), and the amounts of pesticides used by 'organic' farmers. Just because the source is 'natural' doesn't make it safe - certainly poisonous mushrooms and botulism are 'natural'.

To put it another way - are the methods used to determine that 'organic' is safe any different from those used to determine that commercial pesticides are safe? I've read that aspirin would not pass FDA tests today.

And according to that earlier article, Rotenone is used at higher levels than other pesticides - is it safe, or more dangerous as you might ingest more of it? And then there is e. coli and salmonella, which have been reported to be higher in organic produce. I react stronger to known, reported issues than hypotheticals.


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I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the environmental impacts of pesticides.
....

2. Environmental impacts. Pesticides have a substantial impact on the environment to which they are applied. All farming has a substantial impact, but we'd like to lessen it if we can.
I did mention it, post #30. Often, organic results in a negative environmental impact.

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3. Social and occupational health issues. I was a certified pest control operator for a few years as part of my job working for the county. The risks of pesticide exposure to farmworkers and others are real, and the risks to their families are higher and real as well. Growers who use fewer pesticides ask their workers to take fewer risks in this area. We support that, as we support all safer labor practices.
Links please. Last time I looked into this, I found very little evidence of problems among the farm workers, the ones with the greatest exposure.

Quote:
4. We want to support the market. Because organic / pesticide-free growing practices are something we think is a good idea, we buy those foods so that a market for them exists. We believe in capitalism, and if we want the supply to expand, we have to expand the demand as well.
This is why I want as many people as possible to understand the pros/cons. I think there is a general feeling that organic is better, and this is reducing my choices for cheaper commercial produce. The market is eager to provide 'organic' if it can charge more. I'm also concerned that possible unwarranted fears of GMO and 'irradiated' will eliminate those choices for me.


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I don't take sides, and I certainly don't speak for others here. But, I think part of the reason people don't have or value a 'scientific' reason is mistrust of the political and economic establishment that the science information is often filtered through. For example, like many of us I spent decades staying away from butter, eggs, cheese, red meats, and eating high-transfat margarine. ....

That said, I try very hard to be objective as possible. In other words: Trust but verify.
...
I hear what you are saying, but my skepticism is what kept me from dropping butter, eggs, and fats from my diet. I'm afraid 'organic' is just the next 'fad', backed by pseudo-science and marketing.

A dear, departed Aunt of mine was into a lot of this. I recall once she had some sort of alternative chocolate made from Carob, and thought it was much healthier than chocolate. I wondered, what made her think chocolate (in moderation) is bad? And why would Carob be better? Carob is a bean, cocoa is a bean. I don't get it.

-ERD50
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Old 03-20-2014, 06:03 PM   #45
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There's no chicken farm around here so no chicken manure for me. I get steer manure from Home Depot or Lowe's and they are so cheap at $1/bag (1 or 1.5 cu.ft.?). I use about 1 bag per 10 or 15 sq.ft. of planting bed. To each bag, I mix in about 1/2 lb of a complete vegetable fertilizer. I do all this by seat of the pants and not following any prescribed method. The desert soil here is bad, so the manure serves as an excellent soil amendment because of its bulk. Annual replenishment is needed because it decomposes and soaks away.

I grow mostly green-leaf veggie, some squash, okra, eggplants. Planting is tricky here in the desert because it does get cold in the winter as well as superhot in the summer. Timing is everything, and my wife has the memory to know when to put out certain seeds. I don't.

Anyway, back on the organic food subject, I like to get as "close to nature" as possible just for peace of mind, but as has been pointed out, it is not certain that all organic-labeled food is as it is claimed. I do not have much apprehension with regular food bought at the markets, however. I agree with an earlier poster that eating non-organic fruits and produce is still a lot healthier than eating junk processed food.
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:06 PM   #46
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The farmers market is cheaper than the CSA, not growing my own. Growing my own which is much less expense and also qualifies as a hobby, which I enjoy. As a Master Gardener, I get lots and lots of free seeds,so that is not much of a cost. I buy an occasional straw bale to use as mulch and fertilizer. I have all the hardware, cages, trellising, etc also so no cost unless I need replacement.

The area of CA where I live is known for pretty good soil, but we do need to supplement with a nitrogen replacer before planting our vegetable gardens each season. I use an organic composted pelleted chicken manure that provides the specific poundage needed for each 100 sq feet of planting area. It's easy to use and pretty cheap. One bag covers 500 sq feet, which lasts me maybe 3 years. I only have 4 beds, each 4x8.

I have a very successful garden and we recommend chicken manure over steer manure which is why I suggested it. Each gardener should periodically test their soil so they are not over fertilizing, etc. I have raised beds and know how many pounds I use in each bed every season. We do have regular people from the public that do over fertilize and get all leaf and no fruit. Very sad.

It's nice to hear there are other vegetable gardeners on this site.
Hey thanks for some good ideas, I quit gardening when we moved to this place. I did raised beds at our last home, I have a little experience. If I wanted to do raised beds, would 12" of soil be enough? I'm thinking 12" cinder blocks. It's hard rock on this property, so I can't go down only up.

Would that be enough depth for tomatoes, peppers, melons?

Any links to information would be appreciated.

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Old 03-20-2014, 07:33 PM   #47
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My raised beds are only 12 inches high, so yes it is high enough to grow tomatoes, peppers and melons. I would dig down and loosen the soil below the cinder blocks first, than fill the beds with a 70/30 topsoil/compost blend. And fertilize before planting too.

My beds are made from 12 foot redwood boards, 12 inches high, 2 inches thick. I had 4 feet cut off each end and made 4 x 8 beds. I used L-brackets at the corners to keep them intact. I paid about $45 for each board at the time I put them in.

We trellis our melons which saves bed space. Using T-stakes at each end and in the center of a 4x7 foot sheet of concrete reinforcing wire which you can ziptie to the stakes. You could use wire but with zipties, you can undo at the end of the season and move the trellis pieces. And you can use of of the same sheets as a tomato trellis or ziptie around and it makes a nice sized tomato cage. They are only 4 feet high though but better than the little useless tomato cages sold at the hardware stores.

Here is a good basic document my co-worker wrote and our whole vegetable garden section is the second link.

http://ucanr.edu/sites/sacmg/files/117374.pdf
Home vegetable gardening - Sacramento MGs
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:11 AM   #48
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But is it really about 'solving/resolving' anything?

I did mention it, post #30. Often, organic results in a negative environmental impact.



Links please. Last time I looked into this, I found very little evidence of problems among the farm workers, the ones with the greatest exposure.

-ERD50
ERD50,

I did a search of PubMed (online medical and public health journal article database) for pesticide exposure impacts on farmworker's children and found, among others, this article, which showed a link between prenatal exposure to organophosphates and lowered IQ scores in children in an agricultural community in California: Prenatal exposure to organophosphate... [Environ Health Perspect. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI.

There was also a link to an interesting study that looked at health effects (damaged genetic and immunologic conditions) among farmers that used conventional pesticides, organic farmers and a control group. They do note that there was a small study size and uneven distribution among the control groups, so the information should best be considered cautiously: Is organic farming safer to farmersĖ health? A ... [Toxicol Lett. 2014] - PubMed - NCBI.

As far as your environmental example in post #30, it's pretty clear that all farming has some impact on the environment (though some farmers are working hard to see if they can remove deleterious effects of farming). I'd be interested in comparing the overall environmental impacts of conventional crop farming with organic crop farming. Did the study you mention do this? Do you have a reference on it that I could read more about? I'm curious.

Thanks!
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:32 AM   #49
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ERD50,



As far as your environmental example in post #30, it's pretty clear that all farming has some impact on the environment (though some farmers are working hard to see if they can remove deleterious effects of farming).
Joel Salatin has some very interesting things to say on farming, it's effects on the environment, and how to do it right. He uses methods of rotating both crops and live stock on the land to keep the land fertile and healthy so it produces good food - animal and vegetable food. Whether his methods would scale up enough to feed all of us is an interesting question.

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Old 03-21-2014, 12:43 PM   #50
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Another interesting data point
Reality of Ruminants & Liebeg's Barrel
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Old 03-21-2014, 12:46 PM   #51
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ERD50,

I did a search of PubMed (online medical and public health journal article database) for pesticide exposure impacts on farmworker's children and found, among others, this article, which showed a link between prenatal exposure to organophosphates and lowered IQ scores in children in an agricultural community in California:

....

As far as your environmental example in post #30, it's pretty clear that all farming has some impact on the environment (though some farmers are working hard to see if they can remove deleterious effects of farming). I'd be interested in comparing the overall environmental impacts of conventional crop farming with organic crop farming. Did the study you mention do this? Do you have a reference on it that I could read more about? I'm curious.

Thanks!
Thanks for the links (Chuckanut also), I'll take a look at those later.

In the spirit of my reply to MichaelB, my example in post #30 wasn't an attempt to 'prove' anything overall. It was just an example to act as a counterpoint to those who seem to think 'organic' is always better in all ways. It is more complex than that. I recall seeing a study that compared the output of modern techniques to 'organic', and indicated we would need to farm a lot more land for the same output. And that has effects. I'll see if I can find a link.

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Old 03-31-2014, 06:43 AM   #52
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If you think organic foods have no pesticides on them your wrong. They can use organic pesticides on there crops.
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:58 AM   #53
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http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...ture11069.html

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Our analysis of available data shows that, overall, organic yields are typically lower than conventional yields. But these yield differences are highly contextual, depending on system and site characteristics, and range from 5% lower organic yields (rain-fed legumes and perennials on weak-acidic to weak-alkaline soils), 13% lower yields (when best organic practices are used), to 34% lower yields (when the conventional and organic systems are most comparable). Under certain conditions—that is, with good management practices, particular crop types and growing conditions—organic systems can thus nearly match conventional yields, whereas under others it at present cannot.
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