Because it's never easy to figure out what the "right" thing to do is, (see recent post on Less fish and more cow in my belly) I am now unsure about what I just wrote yesterday regarding what's wrong with eating organic foods. Reader Erik from MA writes:
I think the article might be wrong. Organic from far away might be the kinder apple.
From page 62-64 of the Union of Concerned Scientists' "Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices" (1999):
"Our findings suggest that although food processing, packaging and transportation play a significant role, they are not the leading cause of environmental damage due to food consumption. … The majority of impacts come from the cultivation stage … [T]ransportation accounts for 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the fruit, vegetable, and grain category… [and] only 0.6 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions traceable to consumer purchases."
The book doesn't address organic vs conventional since it's looking at avgs across the whole economy, but the above makes me think it's better to buy the organic.
Well, that makes sense to me too! What to believe? What to do? Erik reminded me about the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce (.pdf) which, "lists the 12 popular fresh fruits and vegetables that are consistently the most contaminated with pesticides and those 12 fruits and vegetables that consistently have low levels of pesticides." It also gives you a handy guide to print out and carry around.
Of course, what's on the most contaminated list? Apples! Doh! I should have chose something else for my example. Also, spinach and potatoes and bell peppers and celery. When did eating become so complicated?