Michelle and I hit the Lucky Lab tonight for their salad & pie special. She had read an article about organic foods in Newsweek, and we discussed it. Like most stuff in Newsweek, there was no answer, so we were left to discuss. We both know there are benefits to both ways of producing foods, and I’ve probably heard all the social things already. We discussed the physics of it (what I argued for) and the economics (what she defended).
Her argument: Organic foods may be better for you, but there is no conclusive proof. Organic growers compete with traditional growers, and guess which kind of food people can afford. Herbacides and Pesticides are known to be safe. The population of the world is growing…. Her arguments were generally devil’s advocate arguments, but she in law school. She has popular opinion on her side, as well as scientific evidence and economic proof.
My argument: feritilizers, pesticides, harvesting & shipping all depend on fossil fuels. Our (American) culture dictates that there is an endless supply of energy, our source of which is predominantly the result of prehistoric biomass. (How will big oil have a source if we remove all the biomass from the forest before it can become oil?… Oh wait, there I go thinking long term again.) We ignore the laws of thermodynamics (the amount of energy in the universe is constant, and the changing of matter from one form to another results in loss of potential energy) because we will always have enough petroleum. The way that agriculture currently works is to create large qualtities of genetically similar food that require lots of chemical attendants, machines for harvest, refinining & transportation, then we can eat them. Blah blah blah… the gist of my argument is that organic foods make sense from a physical science standpoint because we do have physical limits to energy sources like petroleum, but no seeming end to supply of labor, which is what replaces herbicides, distrobution, etc. in a traditional farming system. There was something about economics being a pseudo-science, but it must not be important now, because I’m tired. I’ll continue later. Maybe not here though.