Back in January, I complained about Kristin Gerencher's bizarre unwillingness to investigate - let alone concede - the social and environmental benefits of organic farming.
She's at it again this month. People are willing to pay a premium price for organic food, she sniffs, despite lacking evidence that it confers personal health benefits.
First off, that's what happens in the marketplace. People will cheerfully pay premium prices for products that confer status, a sense of security, or imaginary benefits of just about any other kind. It's one of the primary drivers of our economy - and of technological and social change, for better or worse - and I'm getting very, very weary of priggish writers on organic food who pretend not to know it.
The entire issue, to Gerencher, is individual health. If it can't be demonstrated that organic food will improve one's own health (or one's family's), then there's no intelligent reason to buy it. The larger questions about pesticide application, pesticide run-off, antibiotic resistance, and land use are of no concern to her whatsoever.
Once again, she calls organic buyers hypochondriacs:
Much of the sales gain appears to be driven by the worried well, an educated, mostly healthy group with ample disposable income.American business and government thrive on irrational worries, of course. And most businesses would be overjoyed to have "an educated, mostly healthy group with ample disposable income" buying their products. But as usual, the ordinary workings of the Free Market must be placed under a moralistic magnifying-glass when it leads consumers to buy organic food as opposed to, say, home security systems, or bath salts from the Dead Sea.
The limited presence of pesticide residues in Americans' food isn't a big risk to human health and shouldn't guide buying decisions, said Fergus Clydesdale, head of the food science department at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a functional-foods expert with the Institute of Food Technologists, an independent scientific organization.As it happens, this "independent" group's corporate sponsors have included the Coca-Cola Company, Monsanto, and Archer Daniels Midland.
Another fine job, Kristin!
In unrelated news, the Wall Street Journal notes:
Doctors are increasingly diagnosing multiple sclerosis in children and teens. Some research indicates that MS may be related to an environmental trigger early in life.