Monday, February 19, 2007

Organic Food and Maslow's Hierarchy

Matt Sherman (aka The Only Republican in San Francisco) writes about the amorality of organic food. I particularly liked this sentence:
In the rich West, we've moved far enough up Maslow's hierarchy that we can eat not just for sustenance, but for self-esteem.
Matt ends his post with an embedded Penn & Teller video featuring Dr. Norman Borlaug. This reminded me of a less entertaining but thought provoking article published by The Economist a couple of months ago (bolding is mine):

Perhaps the most eminent critic of organic farming is Norman Borlaug, the father of the “green revolution”, winner of the Nobel peace prize and an outspoken advocate of the use of synthetic fertilisers to increase crop yields. He claims the idea that organic farming is better for the environment is “ridiculous” because organic farming produces lower yields and therefore requires more land under cultivation to produce the same amount of food. Thanks to synthetic fertilisers, Mr Borlaug points out, global cereal production tripled between 1950 and 2000, but the amount of land used increased by only 10%. Using traditional techniques such as crop rotation, compost and manure to supply the soil with nitrogen and other minerals would have required a tripling of the area under cultivation. The more intensively you farm, Mr Borlaug contends, the more room you have left for rainforest.

Something to keep in mind during your next trip to Whole Foods or when you read one of their essays on sustainability.