The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The benefits of pesticides

Over the past few years we’ve seen an increase in the consumption of organic food. The demand for it has increased for many reasons, but those reasons typically revolve around the idea that it’s healthier for our bodies and the environment.

But the word organic doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthier’ and eating organic products doesn’t really do much to help the environment.

I’ve been a vegetarian for over six years now, so maybe it comes as a surprise that I’m writing about why people shouldn’t eat organically. I mean, you’d think I’d be a total granola girl whining about Eau Claire not having a Whole Foods every day of my life. But, I’m not.

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People hear the word organic and automatically think it’s healthier. I’d be willing to bet that most of the time, people think this because of pesticides.

Pesticides have gotten a bad rap lately as people have supposedly become more concerned about the effects of the chemicals on their bodies. The word pesticide is often replaced with ‘poison’ within the rhetoric of organic backers.

But the benefit of using pesticides outweighs the negatives.

Before the idea of using chemical pesticides became standard in agriculture, people didn’t really have nearly as much access to fruits, veggies and grains. According to an MSNBC article from 2006, the average harvested acre of farmland yields 200 percent more wheat than it did 70 years ago.

Around 20 to 40 percent of the world’s crops are already lost annually because of the effects of weeds, pests and diseases, according to Crop Life America, an association for chemical pesticide developers.

Crop Life America’s website claimed that if we just stopped using pesticides altogether, crop losses would double, which would raise food prices.

Fewer crops and more expensive food is kind of an issue when we have more than 6.8 billion people on the planet to feed, many of whom live in poverty. Until a way to organically prevent a repeat of the Irish potato famine exists, going without pesticides is a ridiculously bad idea.

Not to mention that the EPA is pretty picky about evaluating pesticides before they can be used.

And for those who want to eat organically because they want to be healthier, if we rule out the overarching issue of pesticides, organic food isn’t any healthier than non-organic food.

Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains to your diet is going to be beneficial whether or not they’re organic. Foods like fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, both of which are good for your body.

Research from Stanford University found that adding brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans may decrease the risk of developing certain cancers as well as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Not to mention that these foods are high in
nutrients that your body needs and low in calories.

One study found that organically grown tomatoes have more vitamin C than conventional tomatoes, according to Time magazine. But other than that, so far no studies have been able to prove that organic foods offer any more health benefits than conventionally grown food.

Perhaps the most interesting double standard of the organic food industry is that brands like Amy’s Kitchen get to grocery stores the same way as Kellogg’s and Nabisco.  Ground shipping.

Gas is still being burned by the truck that carries organic food to the grocery store.

Annie’s Homegrown, an organic food company, is located in Berkley, Calif., meaning the organic mac and cheese you spent a dollar more on probably travelled further than the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as Kraft Foods is headquartered in Northfield, Ill.

And it goes without saying that the organic food industry is smaller than the traditional food industry. Because of this, there is less organic food than food grown with pesticides in our world, and sometimes an organic apple needs to be shipped from New Zealand, whereas an apple grown with conventional methods might come
from Wisconsin.

While the idea of eating organically is attractive, especially if you’re worried about what you eat or what impact you’re having on the environment, it might not have much of a real impact at all other than provide you with a bit more vitamin C.

And if you need vitamin C that badly, you can easily find it in more places than a $4 tomato.

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The benefits of pesticides