Dr. Steve Savage: “Many consumers believe that the Organic label means the food has superior nutrition and is safer, especially in regard to pesticide residues. This is not true. Studies have shown no appreciable difference in nutrition between crops grown either organically or conventionally.”
Organic food is healthier and better for the environment, right?
Did you ever stop to consider how you learned this?
In this episode of the Renaissance Humans Podcast I speak with Dr. Steve Savage, a plant pathologist who’s spent over 30 years in the agriculture industry. Dr. Savage is deeply concerned with the challenges of feeding our world’s growing population with healthy food, but when it comes to organic, he thinks the wool has been pulled over our eyes.
In this conversation we talk about:
- Is organic food safer for consumers? How about farm workers?
- How organic food production damages our environment.
- Should we buy produce imported from foreign countries with lax agricultural safety standards?
- The problems with the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15”
If you’re not interested in the whole interview, you can skip around to the specific topics you’d care to hear about with the show notes list below.
Listen to the episode on itunes here.
Watch on youtube here.
Selected Links From The Episode
Dr. Savage’s personal website.
An Applied Mythology article discussing why Dr. Savage doesn’t buy organic.
How much less food does organic produce?
How did everyone come to believe organic fruits and vegetables are superior for our health when there’s not a lot of hard evidence suggesting this? 4:25
What sort of chemicals will you find on USDA certified food? 7:10
The USDA’s safety program and the testing done on organic foods. 10:14
Does all conventional produce have pesticide residue on it, and what does the Environmental Working Group Ignore? 12:07
Are USDA/EPA toxicologists politically-silenced, incompetent, or lacking the tools to know if conventional food is harmful? 14:47
The Environmental Working Group’s argument 15:57
How has the danger presented by synthetic pesticide sprays changed over time? 16:59
Scale of natural vs man-added pesticides on produce 20:15
What relevance does the “Clean 15,” really have? 23:37
Why the USDA doesn’t claim organic will make you healthier, and what the purpose of the organic program is 26:37
Can organic be worse for the environment? 30:00
Why is it so much harder for organic growers to do environmentally-friendly no-till production? 34:00
How many calories or pounds per acre can you produce in organic vs conventional food production? 36:07
Can we feed the population we have with organic food? How about the growing population of 10 billion people? 39:47
Would Dr. Savage eat organic if he was in China? 42:20
Would organic production fix Gulf Of Mexico dead zone? 44:27
Could local production, permaculture, or small farms fix our environmental issues? 47:43
Does conventional food production harm agricultural workers? 51:26
Why the children of farm workers have stunted IQs 56:01
Andrew’s Thoughts conventional produce safety. 1:00:42
Is synthetic produce dangerous if we eat way more produce than average? 1:05:03
Should we be concerned with eating imported grapes from Chile or other foreign countries? 1:07:06
How did Dr. Savage get involved with agriculture. 1:09:22
Looking forward, what are the major agricultural advances that could help us out? 1:13:34