You probably know already that the term “organic food” is based on ideology and doesn’t have to do with growing nutrient dense fruit, vegetables or animals. This is why we need to grow food that’s “beyond organic” – simply better than organic.
Organic agriculture, the good: no pesticides.
To some extend, that’s not bad: I consider the exclusion of pesticide use a beneficial thing. My readers are probably aware about existence of nootropics – chemicals that enhance the performance and health of your brain or your cognitive functions, making you are more focused and motivated (if not check this post about nootropics written by Pill Scout) – and other performance enhancing drugs, like anabolic steroids. As you probably know, because a lot of you might tried it (like myself) to increase the quality of my life, the dose of certain drugs is important. The given dose might work for one person, on another it might not, it might be too much or not enough. Your dose might need tweaking – sometimes you should take less, sometimes more, sometimes you should stop and not get addicted or develop a tolerance for certain substance.
Taking some nootropics might also change your requirements for certain minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. For example, if you take piracetam you might need to increase your choline intake. If you take aspirin daily for it’s many health benefits you might want to supplement vitamin K2 or make sure you eat a lot of beef liver almost daily. Now if any of those factors is wrong, your health and quality of life is not going to increase, it’s going to get worse. Keep in mind we are talking about substances that were usually researched/designed as medicines for people, so some consideration was taken to make the supplement/drug safe for humans.
The good Lord was extremely generous when he created all the diseases and ways we can die, and by giving us free will, He at least quadrupled it. At the end of the day, there is one-way your heart is going to pump your blood properly. If your heart start’s to work 2x as fast as normal (during the rest), it doesn’t mean it’s working 2x as efficient. Usually, it’s quiet the opposite and you should seek medical attention immediately. What I mentioned above is what’s needed to achieve some benefits from taking nootropics or performance enhancing drugs. It’s sort of difficult to do that, or not that easy.
How is it related to organic food and pesticides?
This is NOT what’s happening when we are ingesting pesticides. First of all they were generally designed to either:
- Kill weeds (herbicides)
- Kill insects (insecticides)
- Kill fungi (fungicides)
- Kill bacteria (bactericides)
They weren’t designed to cure or make peoples’ health better. Now, what are the chances that randomly chosen substance at sort of low, but ultimately random dose will be beneficial to your health and performance? The best you can hope is that they are going to be neutral for you. But what’s most probable, it’s going to be somehow harmful. In some cases we will know about it after many decades (like with DDT).
Polish, communist propaganda video from the fifties. It’s say that we have a plague of Colorado potato beetle because American Imperialists were spreading them (using airplanes) from German Federal Republic. My mother was sometimes off from school because all the school children were allocated (by authorities) to pick up potato beetles from the potato fields. The “Azotox” they were using to spray fields (both from air and on the ground) is DDT solution. Notice the complete lack of Personal Protective Equipment. Well… it was considered safe (at that time), so what’s the point..?
But pesticides are tested for safety before they are introducing to the market? That doesn’t mean they are safe?
You can’t really rely on safety testing. Let’s assume we can trust safety testing and certain products are safe to use on crops eaten by humans and livestock – and that’s a very optimistic, or even naive assumption. It still doesn’t mean it’s safe to ingest them, as some residues are being stored in our body (especially organs and fat). The safety test is being done only with one chemical at the time, no one (as it’s not their business) test what happens to certain lab animals when they are exposed to “safe doses” of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides at the same time. Even in a simple lab dish if you mix substances A and B you can get a product C that has properties nowhere near A and B. Now we are talking about human body, so if anything there are much more factors to consider…
“Those people died from eating, not starving. That’s progress!”
To sum it up: pesticides are something to avoid if it’s practical and you can afford it, as they cannot do you any good. Well, unless you need to loose a lot of fat very, very fast in a very, very unhealthy way. If you want to get a six-pack in a more sustainable way check this out.
Can someone argue that this face of organic agriculture is bad for the consumer? I don’t think so, but if you do make sure you post a comment.
Organic agriculture, the bad: fertilizer hate
The other, darker “side” of organic agriculture is that belief that organic matter, crop rotation and polyculture will solve most problems and if you are going to create a “balanced agroecosystem” your are going to produce high quality food. If you are lucky to live on the soil that is very rich in calcium, phosphorus, micronutrients and trace elements (in the right balance) then yes – it will be easy to do that. But most people who have a garden or some land do not have this privilege. If the parent rock of your soil is granite, or some glacial sand it will be poor in nutrients, acidic, it will have improper calcium to potassium, magnesium to potassium ratio. Your soil might produce a lot of yields, but it will be low in protein and of poorer amino-acid profile, it will have little phytonutrients (plants secondary metabolites). Your plants will be susceptible for insects and other lower animals attacks (snails, slugs, aphids…). I’m just saying, because I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
The whole “fertilizer hate” in organic agriculture is a bit ironic considering that most macronutrients (N, P, K), respectively: 23%, 73% and 53% in organic French agriculture comes from… conventional farms (in USA it’s even more as manure from factory farms is allowed to be used in organic agriculture), usually as manure, but also straw, some animal feed, so ultimately from… artificial fertilizers. That’s just that magic thinking – if it’s organic it must be good!
Dear Readers, please understand what got us to this place: Low amount of nutrients in our food is mainly caused by excess and imbalanced usage of artificial fertilizers, but forbidding their use is throwing baby with bath water. The solution to growing highest quality, nutrient dense food is smarter and more balanced fertilizers usage.
What do I mean by “balancing fertilizer usage”? This is the topic for the next post. But before I do that, go get a soil test. Test for:
- Cation Exchange Capacity
- Base Saturation
In Poland this soil test that will allow you to know exactly how much material to put in your soil costs about 60-70 USD. If you want to grow truly the best food, that’s what you need to do…