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Organic Food: Still More than an Elitist Lifestyle Choice

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page.

It happens like clockwork; every few months, a rant against local and/or organic food appears in one of the papers of record. The author is nearly always an educated man who uses the words "elite" and "elitist" at least 175 times while defending today's corporate food system and implying directly or indirectly that changes to the status quo - which often inherently begin with those who can afford to make them - should be seen as suspect at best, and downright damaging at worst.

There was James McWilliams' 2009 book, Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, and the whole array of anti-locavore screeds that accompanied it in the Atlantic and The New York Times. And among the many others that have come since were James Budiansky's 2010 claim that locavores needed math lessons and Canadian academic and author Pierre Desrochers' recent book, which argues that "locavores do more harm than good."

Then last week, Roger Cohen, a British columnist for The New York Times and its European counterpart, the International Herald Tribune, joined the chorus by calling organic food a fable. In the op-ed, which was prompted by a Stanford University mega-study which questioned the nutritional value of organic foods and topped the Times' most-emailed list over the weekend, he took an all-too-familiar tone:

 Organic has long since become an ideology, the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism, to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century and whose poor will get a lot more nutrients from the two regular carrots they can buy for the price of one organic carrot.


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