I eat at Frank's FOOD AND THOUGHT 100% ORGANIC restaurant nearly everyday. He is one of the most knowledgeable people about food and health I have ever met.
Read his Commentary from the Naples Daily News. I am against pesticide farming and for clean farming like my grandfather's massive garden in Cuba Illinois.
Read what Frank has to say...
Guest commentary: ‘Organic’ farming is naturally the best
By FRANK OAKES, Special to the Daily News
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I feel compelled to offer an opposing commentary to that of columnist Betsy Hart (“Deflating the organic myth”).
Her uninformed and naive opinion by itself may not have motivated me to write this, were it not for such totally uncalled for snide remarks.
I have grown and marketed food my entire life, as my parents and grandparents did before me.
I transitioned some of my farm to organics in 1989, and from 1991 to the present I have farmed entirely organic produce.
I am past president of Florida Organic Growers and humbly submit that no one in Southwest Florida understands more clearly the difference between what is called conventionally grown and organically grown food.
I must say I have always hated the word “organic.” Even more, I hate how preposterous it is that we have to name our practices anything other than farming.
For 15,000 years, humans have practiced organized agriculture the way nature commanded, all the way up until World War II. After that, chemicals were introduced — and so began the “get big or get out’’ agribusiness we are burdened with today.
Unbelievably, with help from the spin doctors, by the early 1960s chemical farming had become known as conventional, and anyone who farmed the way we did the first 15,000 years were weirdos who had to come up with a new name.
Talk about mythology!
Hart often refers to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s article in Time magazine for support. I read that article, and in its totality it was very ambivalent about the impact of organic food.
Relying on Dr. Gupta as an authority in itself is very questionable. I clearly understand his magnetic TV persona, but I felt that his Time article should have begun with: “I’m not an organic farmer but I play one on TV.”
The good doctor, like most of his peers, can deftly administer a dose of chemotherapy, but has been taught very little about the connection between good food and health.
Hart’s observation that “life expectancy is up by decades” is badly misleading. Infant mortality has had more to do with that statistic than anything else, and the “official” projections for future longevity are simply based on extrapolations of present life spans.
Well, let me tell you that all the folks who are bringing up that average by living to 90 or 100 were born in 1907 to 1917. They were 50 years old before they ever tasted a piece of chemically grown food.
Her next statistic on reduced cancer rates is laughable. (Disraeli: “Three kinds of lies — lies, damned lies and statistics.”)
She goes on stating that studies show no nutritional differences between organic and chemically-grown foods. I can show her many that do just that and would be glad to pass them on to her. Sadly, most food “studies” are funded by the likes of General Mills, Archer Daniels, etc., who have vested interests in the status quo.
Hart feels like she has “been had” when buying organics. First, she admits she only buys organic by mistake and then feels as if the grocer owes her reparations. She then laments that the non-toxic food is “typically more expensive.” She reminds me of Johnson’s quotation of how so many know “the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
She further states that “thoughtlessness” and “the sense of doing something virtuous” drives the organic consumer.
I sell organic foods to thousands of Floridians every week, and I know of not one who purchases for either reason. In fact, as is the case with almost every one of her statements, just the opposite is true. People think real hard before giving up the convenience of modern shopping to go out of their way and hunt, carefully read labels and pay more for organic food.
Hart ends by saying she goes to the trouble (unlike her virtuous organic friends) to study cost-benefit analysis and ultimately is only concerned with what is best for her family in that context. I hope there are no children in her family, but, if I may stoop to her level with my own snide remark, if she does have children they are probably very well-dressed.
I do agree with her on one of her last sentences: “In our culture it just feels good ... to feel good.”
She should try eating organic for a few weeks and find out how profoundly true that statement is.
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Frank Oakes is the founder of Naples’ Oakes Farm Market, now run by his sons, and Food & Thought at Naples’ Gateway Center.