No place for fear mongering in organic vs. conventional

No place for fear mongering in organic vs. conventional

Fear can be both a good and horrible feeling which can drive people either to make sensible decisions or those which are shaky, unfounded, and lack substance.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the nation’s 32nd President who served from 1933-1945, weighed in on the fear factor in his first inaugural speech by saying, the “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

A rapid onset of fear can quickly run through someone’s veins as they watch video of a test-crash dummy behind the wheel of a vehicle launched at 65-miles-per-hour for a seconds-long ride into a brick wall.

Other fear can be based on just that – fear – with perhaps no real grounds to back it up.

Fear sells and marketers know it, investigative agricultural reporter Joanna Schroeder told a packed lunch crowd at the Western Plant Health Association’s annual meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. in late September.

Her assessment in the onging organic versus conventional food tiff – which won’t surprise many people - is based on several years of research on how the John Q. Public views organic and conventional foods versus science-based research to distinguish fact from fiction.

Schroeder told the agricultural crowd that not a single science-based study she studied found a thread of evidence that organically-grown foods are healthier or better for you than conventionally-grown food in the U.S.

Among Schroder’s findings, the organic agriculture market grew from $1 billion to $8 billion annually from 1990-2000. Also, consumers define ‘organic’ as production on the farm before it moves to a processing facility.

Her findings were published in Academic Review which tests popular claims against peer-reviewed science.

Prior to the WPHA luncheon where Schroeder spoke, she placed a pouch of organic baby food and two boxes of dry macaroni and cheese on each table – one box of the Kraft brand and the other box Annie’s organic brand. The Kraft box sells for about a dollar and the Annie’s box sells for about $3 – triple the price of the Kraft non-organic.

Schroeder says both brands are the same quality and healthy product, and taste about the same. Yet the Annie’s box had a bunny on the front as a marketing ploy to create a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling, along with a feel-good story on the back to draw consumer attention.

She says just because a package is labeled as organic or healthy doesn’t mean pesticides were not used in the field.

My opinion on organic and conventional is to buy and eat whichever food you prefer and can afford - without a laundry basket of questionable information which may unfairly boost one product over in consumers' eyes.

Save the marketing ploy, put the bunny on the shelf, and just produce a high-quality product at the best price. Let the consumer decide by the facts alone. This starts by just telling the truth.

Oh - in a perfect world.

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