5 Mythbusting Moments Necessary Because of Whole Foods

You’re telling us a Jeff Bezos-owned entity might not be great for society?
5 Mythbusting Moments Necessary Because of Whole Foods

Let’s get a couple of things straight up top: Forever agrochemicals are bad. Predatory labor practices are bad. Industrial agriculture has plenty of sins to answer for, and a long way to go before it can be considered anything close to “green.”

But just because a piece of fruit has a sticker on it that says “Certified Organic” doesn’t mean it’s going to save the planet or turn you into Popeye. Just like any other big business, organic farming is susceptible to corruption, grifters and misleading advertising. Do you think Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods so he could stock his spaceship with organic produce? No! He wanted to become the gatekeeper for what constitutes “healthy” and “ethical” consumption.

The biggest bummer of all is that it’s kind of working. Watch “If Organic Food Was Honest,” the latest episode of Honest Ads, in which our very own Roger Horton reveals the seedy underbelly of an industry that purports to be saving the planet.

And read below to dispel some of the myths that the organic farming industry has been cultivating deep inside your hippocampus:

MYTH: Organic Food Is Healthier

See if you can answer this question in an empirical way: What does it mean for food to be “healthy”?

A few common answers might be: high in nutrition, high in vitamins, doesn’t make you shit your pants. Unfortunately, organic food doesn’t tick any of those boxes.

There’s nothing chemically distinct about organic produce. A pear with a “Certified Organic” sticker on it has no measurable nutritional advantage over one that doesn’t, nor is it packed with some extra payload of vitamins. Biting into an organic cheese poof isn’t like using a power-up in Mario Kart — at a molecular level, there’s exactly nothing special about it. 

Oh, and they replace chemical fertilizer with, just, so much manure. Exposure to all that poop is why organic food accounts for a disproportionate amount of E. coli outbreaks.

MYTH: Organic Farming Is Better for the Environment

As mentioned above, organic farms can’t use synthetic fertilizers, so they replace them with animal turds. Similarly, they can’t use synthetic pesticides — so what do they replace those with? “Natural” pesticides. 

That doesn’t mean they hire Groot to water their corn stalks with his magic alien pee. It means they’ve cobbled together bug-murdering potions that are technically “plant-based” and “minimally processed.” At the end of the day, organic poison is still poison, and there’s no proof that these murderous elixirs are any more effective, or less environmentally devastating, than traditional pesticides.

MYTH: Organic Food Is More Ethical

It’s true that organic farms have to follow additional rules pertaining to the treatment of animals and workers. And the biodiversity of organic farms is, ostensibly, better for humans and animals alike. But the industry is still rife with outright neglect and predatory labor practices. 

For example, organic animals can’t get vaccinated — that means that if a dairy cow catches a very preventable disease, she’ll often be sold to a non-organic slaughterhouse for meat. And as far as workers? Whole Foods was caught sourcing its “sustainable” tilapia from a farm that uses prison labor, as recently as 2015. It’s hard to believe that was an isolated incident.

But wait, doesn’t the government keep a close eye on this industry?

MYTH: The Organic Farming Industry Is Heavily Regulated

Organic farming is characterized by its myriad rules and regulations. But according to some industry insiders, a lot of that regulation is just lip service. Farmers hire government inspectors out of their own pockets — and you know which inspectors are the most popular? The ones who never find anything to report.

Again, there’s nothing physically different about organic produce; all you can do is trust that sticker. So if a farmer really wants to pass off a shipment of non-organic oats as organic, all they have to do is make sure not to hire Detective Columbo to inspect their farm, and no one would find out.

MYTH: Traditional Farming Is an Outmoded, Inefficient Process

To be clear: We’re not defending the oligarchs who profit off of industrial agriculture. Monsanto can eat shit. But it’s worth noting that farming efficiency has increased by 200 percent in the time since we’ve started using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We’ve gotten really good at making chemicals that kill bugs and make plants grow thiccer. Higher farming efficiency means fewer food deserts, which in turn means a healthier population.

Again, industrial farming is responsible for more than its fair share of pollution and health crises. But blindly believing industry propaganda out of a sense of altruism isn’t the way forward. We can’t allow a billionaire monopolist to define what’s “healthy,” what’s “natural” and what’s “ethical.”

Unless, of course, that billionaire monopolist is Roger Horton. You can trust him. Watch “If Organic Food Was Honest” to hear some more of his cynical tricks of the trade.

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