First, I want to chime in (again) on my support for people sharing their
point of view, both facts and opinions. Of course, it's always useful to
be clear when one speaks which is which.... And I support us having a civil
tone in these conversations, focussing on information and
mutually-supportive conversation toward a shared goal, not attacks.
Given that, I have two responses to David's first post:
1) Thank you for sharing your nutrition info - as I've said, it's a
valuable perspective, to remember the entire food distribution system and
its impact on nutrition.
2) But I really have to wonder why it is so important to you to emphasize
so strongly and emphatically that other factors are _more_ important than
pesticide use/residues in impact on health.
I feel that your important facts are diminished by your vehement opinions
of the relative importance of certain variables, your dismissal of facts
and perspectives that could be well-argued (ex. the role of vitamins and
minerals in health), and your apparent dismissal of my description of how
pesticide and other nutrient issues are inter-related and not separate.
In my last email, I gave a context which included your valuable
contributions/points as well as those who have concerns about pesticides,
one which allowed all concerns to live happily under the umbrella of "a
range of concerns about the nutritional quality of the food America eats."
Yet you felt you had to come back again and, with a great deal of force,
minimize concerns about pesticides and health relative to other factors.
I won't repeat my entire email, but I didn't really see my points reflected
in your response. Such as the fact that those making junk final products
often start with lifeless food, while those making quality products tend to
start with alive organic food, just because of their value systems and
sales approaches. That I find organic food more alive (tasting, feeling
when/after eat) and that this can be one way to inspire people to make
healthier choices - to offer them a truly exciting choice (and that they
may choose their current unhealthy choices because they find fresh
mainstream food so tasteless and are looking for zip). In other words, I
don't think one can separate the issue of creating an alive nutritious "raw
material" and the packaging and eating choices later down the line. I find
them very strongly related, and that understanding that gives them most
powerful answers and paths to action (and supports in improving our overall
I'm just puzzled by why that inclusive framing doesn't work for you, that
you have to keep coming back with assertions that make pesticides minimal
relative to other nutrition issues. I agree these other nutrition issues
are important, but I really don't feel that you've proven that pesticide
issues are less important or even unrelated.
Your arguments seem to be very consistent with the pesticide company
"relative risk" arguments - that pesticides aren't as bad as other things,
like dietary fats - arguments they've done a good job of seeding in the
mainstream medical community (along with their anti-alternative medicine
arguments that vitamins and minerals don't have that much to do with
disease, another easily arguable point). From your alignment with this
position, I suspect that you've been heavily influenced by this type of
mainstream viewpoint, and perhaps don't recognize how it tracks so well
with the chemical company's objectives to disempower both alternative ag
and alternative med.
I don't want to put words in HJOSEPH's emouth, but I think that alignment
with the chemical company message might have been what was underneath the
summary dismissal that you got from him/her. Note: I don't claim to speak
for HJOSEPH and also hope that he will articulate his own concerns. And I
agree with those who point out that it is useful to give specific factual
responses rather than just dismissing someone's viewpoint. Unfortunately,
I feel it is just that type of out-of-hand dismissal, David, that you've
given to the specific points I articulated in my email.
I'd also like to point out to those who say they want to get the health
field perspective should remember that there are debates in that field as
there are in the sustainable ag field, and one person's view doesn't
necessarily represent the whole field.
My assessment is that David is quite knowledgeable about the mainstream
perspective on nutrition, which has value and I appreciate being included
in the discussion. However, my comments lead me to conclude that he
doesn't have that depth of knowledge about pesticides in food or the strong
proven positive role that vitamins and minerals play in health, and
deficiencies can cause in disease (I don't mean the 60mg daily dose of
vitamin C mainstream says is enough, but is only enough to prevent scurvy,
not other problems - I mean the valuable work on vitamins/minerals in
"alternative" medicine), let alone the the issues of health factors in food
that we haven't isolated yet or are harder to see from a Western viewpoint,
like "chi" or vitality/aliveness.
For instance, regarding obesity, after dividing the issue into "IMPACT OF
EATING HABITS AND FOOD SUPPLY ALTERATION" and "IMPACT OF NUTRITIONALLY
SUPERIOR ORGANIC FOOD", you say "The main dietary factors are excess
calories, esp. from fat and sugar, and lack of dietary fiber." and assess
the "IMPACT OF NUTRITIONALLY SUPERIOR ORGANIC FOOD" as moderate (compared
to "very important" for IMPACT OF EATING HABITS AND FOOD SUPPLY
ALTERATION). You say, "Any vitamin/mineral/ phytochemical superiority has
little direct impact on obesity."
I say that's an opinion masquerading as a fact. How much have you
researched the vitamins and minerals, especially in alternative (non AMA
literature) ex. the results from identifying and adjusting low chromium
levels? Have you uinvestigated why the sweetening herb stevia is banned
from U.S. sodas and other products, when it's used freely and safely all
over the world, including in Japan and South America, is much sweeter than
sugar for the same quantity, and yet instead of being bad for the pancreas
(as sugar is) is quite nutritious for it. I imagine how much harm is being
done in this country (including to the diabetics you mention later) because
stevia cannot be used in these products instead of sugar.
And, again, I feel that one reason a lot of people eat junk food (which
adds weight) is because they find mainstream produce lifeless and
nonvibrant (ex. tomatoes, strawberries) and are looking for more zip.
"Eating habits" is about _food choice_, and wouldn't taste and experienced
vitality be a factor in that? Also, many of the companies who are focussing
on healthy food (low fat but not by "cheating" with Olestra, low salt,
etc.) are the same as the ones who want to start with the alive
deliciousness of organic food. As I detailed in my previous email, I find
these factors completely interwoven.
I could go down the line and point out facts you don't seem to consider in
each of yourpoints and conclusions, each time you brush your hand to
disregard the role that the choice between pesticide and organic food has
in that disease.
For instance, you talk about cancer but don't seem to consider the fact
that a very conservative mainstream analysis has stated that 2% of cancer
deaths in this country are caused by pesticides - or 10,000 human beings.
That doesn't include those survivors who have expensive and body-mutilating
surgery and live the rest of their lives with the Damoclean sword of its
recurrence over their heads, nor the many other people harmed through
pesticides other effects (neurological, neuromuscular, reproductive, birth
defects, immune system, etc....) You talk about grains, fruits, and veggies
role in preventing cancer and call that "very important". Yes, they are
factors, certainly. Then you say organic food has some effect through
having more phytochemicals and call their role "moderate". Perhaps. But
also perhaps organic food helps prevent cancer through the lack of
carcinogens! And the reduced carcinogens in our shared environment! Not
to mention those people (alternative medicine again) who are curing cancer
through diet, vitamins/minerals, and organic food. Who are you to say that
vitamins/minerals and organic food are less important that eatring grains,
fruits and veggies? That's not evidence, that's not a fact, that's an
Another example of how silly this gets is under Osteoporosis, where your
division of impacts (which I consider a false and unclear split) is shown
to be just that. After setting an assumption that organic foods have more
nutrients, you put "Only 15% of U.S. women over age 35 meet their daily
calcium needs." under "IMPACT OF EATING HABITS AND FOOD SUPPLY ALTERATION"
- leaving IMPACT OF NUTRITIONALLY SUPERIOR ORGANIC FOOD" as "moderate",
with no mention of calcium. But you said your assumption was that we got
more nutrition from organic food....? And this disregards the whole
conversation that dairy isn't fit for the human body and does harm to it,
which would lead one to get more from plants and increase the importance of
having the most nutritious plants possible.
But really the main point to me is this - these points don't need to be in
opposition. If one's concerned about cancer, why not eat whole grains,
fruits and vegetables _that are organic_? That seems like the best bet to
me! Sure, buying organic and then eating Olestra etc. isn't a wise
choice. But - especially if you buy products at a health food store - you
don't tend to find organic products packaged with Olestra - in general
(there are exceptions), I find the organic manufacturers are also most
attentive to real healthy ingredients down the line (and vice-versa). I
never said one should buy organic and disregard all other variables. But I
think organic is an incredibly positive and important choice to make for
health, not separate from the other healthy choices one can make.
Which brings me back to my main question - Why is it so important for you
to prove that choosing organic/nutritious ag is of so much less importance?
Why isn't it enough to say that there are many inter-related unhealthy
aspects in our food choices and there are a spectrum of positive choices we
can make in our food to improve our health - including organic?
I agree with you that those concerned about a healthy food supply can look
at factors others than issues such as the value of organic and the
importance of high nutrition raw produce. I value your reminder that those
packaging food can learn from the fast-food genre to increase sales of
overall-healthy food. Still, I think organic food can play a vital and
valuable role in increasing our national health, from its higher nutrients,
reduced toxins (in the food and our shared environment), and often higher
vitality/aliveness - and I don't think it's trivial/less important to put
attention on that. Why does it seem so important to you to say it is? Not
everyone packages food or has influence over those who do. Some just grow
it, and it's valuable for them to consider the best food they can produce
and what qualities they might consider that to be. To me, that's
supportive of creating healthy food, not in opposition to it or less
important than it.
Anyway, I value the information and perspectives various group members have
contributed (and, I'm sure will contribute) to this conversation, and value
the opportunity for us all to have a constructive civil dialogue that
supports us in working cooperatively together (i.e., no unncessary
oppositions or "better than"s) in creating a healthier future for us all.
I too hope that can include a cooperative and mutually-supportive alliance
among those working on the whole range of issues regarding health and