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Organic Food

Is It Worth the Money?



Co Authors:

Suzanne R. Carpenter
Department of Chemistry and Physics
Armstrong State University
suzanne.carpenter@armstrong.edu

Richard H. Wallace
Department of Chemistry and Physics
Armstrong State University
richard.wallace@armstrong.edu

Abstract:

Currently there is considerable confusion surrounding the use of the term "organic" as applied to food and other consumer products, but within the agriculture industry the term has a well-defined meaning related to the practices that are allowed in the production of a crop. This case study was written to inform students about organic agriculture and its implications with regard to food nutritional value as well as its costs.  The case is presented as a dilemma in the context of buying produce in the grocery store. Concepts presented include the difference between organic and conventional agricultural practices, the analysis of food to quantify nutrient levels, the history of the organic movement, and the economic and environmental impacts of organic agriculture. The activity was designed for use in a lower level general science course (with a cursory review of the scientific literature) or in an upper level chemistry course (with a thorough analysis of the literature).

Objectives:
  • Describe some of the differences between organic and conventional agricultural practices.
  • Define antioxidant and identify the structural characteristic of phenols.
  • Interpret data from a scientific study.
  • List the major events in the organic agricultural movement from the 1940s to the present.
Keywords: organic food; agriculture; scientific studies; food; farming; antioxidants; phenol;
Topical Area: History of science, Regulatory issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, General public & informal education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed, Discussion, Journal Article
Language: English
Subject Headings: Agriculture   Environmental Science   Food Science / Technology   Botany / Plant Science   Chemistry (General)   Organic Chemistry   Science (General)  
Date Posted: 12/13/2017
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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I have done extensive research into the safety and history of organic vs GMO food and I have presented a 75 minute presentation to my college and local library about these topics. I do not feel that this case study does enough to educate students about all of the issues at play or provide enough references. I think a number of issues need to be evaluated when organic food is discussed: what is the history of the companies that are producing it, how long have tests been going on for, what is the safety of alternative food (Roundup is now considered at best a potential human carcinogen by the WHO), if products aren't labeled to identify them as GMO is organic a safer option, one of the few scientific papers that identifies GMOs as carcinogenic was retracted only after a former Monsanto employee joined the Board for that journal and is the only paper to have ever been retracted due to insufficient evidence as the sole reason, and with increased GMO production the evolution of future crops is at stake as well as the security of our food due to the possibility of consequences similar to the Irish Potato famine repeating themselves. Nutrient value is only one issue here, and in light of the other aspects, perhaps the smallest. Also, let me stress, until there are clear laws in place demanding the labeling of GMO food, it's not organic versus conventional food that is being addressed but an issue of organic versus GMO food in today's society.


Justin Hoshaw
Biology
Waubonsee Community College
Sugar Grove, IL
jhoshaw@waubonsee.edu
12/13/2017



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