Organic Food Alarmism Looks Pretty Stupid During A Global Pandemic

Organic Food Alarmism Looks Pretty Stupid During A Global Pandemic

Moms know they and their children are vulnerable like never before. So it’s time to put away childish things, like virtue signaling, and pay attention to real solutions.
Julie Gunlock
By

Remember when buying those “non-toxic” cleaning supplies made you feel like you were being a good person? Yeah, those were the days. Pre-coronavirus, many moms thought nothing of choosing those “all natural,” “clean,” “organic,” “eco-friendly,” “baby and puppy-loving” brands.

Things sure have changed. Spray cleaner with bleach? I’ll take two! Organic? Who cares! Children’s cough medicine with ingredients I can’t pronounce? Yes, please!

Just get me that store-brand bagged salad, a jug of bleach, some baby Tylenol, and a case of wine, and we’ll make it out of this alive! That’s the new mommy mantra in the coronavirus age.

Today, people seem a bit more skeptical of the magical claims from those who offer the glory of a better, more expensive, less convenient way. Instead of listening, consumers want products that actually kill viruses and other germs.

That’s because, today, a real monster exists—a disease that spreads rapidly for which there’s no vaccine or cure. Moms know they and their children are vulnerable like never before. So it’s time to put away childish things, like virtue signaling, and pay attention to real solutions.

Yet this new reality hasn’t stopped the more aggressive corners of the alarmist industry. For instance, last month, the Environmental Working Group released its annual “Dirty Dozen List,” a hackneyed, recycled catalog of fruits and vegetables the organization says one mustn’t eat lest one wants to die of a toxic dose of pesticide residue.

Of course, none of that is true. Pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables (and that includes organic produce) are what the Food and Drug Administration calls “trace levels.”

The FDA continuously tests the fresh produce sold in grocery stores to ensure that pesticide residue levels stay below Environmental Protection Agency standards. In addition, the EPA regulates and monitors how farmers apply pesticides. So all along the food chain, there are checks built in to ensure consumers’ safety.

So, just how miniscule are pesticide residues? Here’s a visual: a child would have to eat 1,500 servings of strawberries before she’d reach the EPA limit of exposure. In other words, a child will never come close to being harmed by trace levels of pesticide residue—on either less expensive conventionally grown produce or more expensive organic produce.

Yet, the EWG—an organization best known for promoting this sort of rubbish and various other questionable theories about food safety—doesn’t mention these important details. Nor, this year, did EWG leadership choose to put off the release of the fabulist list to avoid worrying already legitimately worried Americans about perfectly healthy food.

Sadly for the EWG, Americans aren’t stupid. They are being reminded daily of the real dangers we face as a society. And a conventionally grown apple ain’t it.

This great awakening to the silliness of groups like the EWG is showing in how consumers are behaving. The sale of canned food—a product the EWG and other activist organizations like to bleat about because of high salt content and protective sealant-lined cans—has increased. In early March, Campbell reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and profit. Other canned and processed food companies are also seeing rising sales.

Perhaps after this pandemic is over, people will have a deeper appreciation for the innovations that keep food and consumers safe. For instance, Bisphenol-A, better known as BPA, long battered as an unnecessary chemical used in food packaging, iPhones, car parts, prosthetic limbs, eyeglasses, and other conveniences, makes products more durable and keeps food free of dangerous bacteria that can cause food-borne illness—another killer.

Chemicals used as preservatives in food and personal care products helps keep them fresh longer and free of bacteria or fungi (which is the FDA requires). That’s important when one is trying to avoid going to the store regularly.

Pesticides help farmers grow more food while keeping pests (weeds and bugs) from killing crops. That ensures both fresh and packaged food continues to be restocked on store shelves. Vaccines stop the spread of infectious diseases and prevent conditions that can blind, maim, and kill from taking hold.

Each of these products—chemical additives, food preservatives, pesticides, and vaccines—have long been the punching bags of activist organizations hell bent on turning back the clock on innovation. We should all be thankful they’ve failed. It is those innovations that are helping us get through this pandemic, and it is the innovations to come that might prevent one in the future.

Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and directs the organization’s Culture of Alarmism Project. She is the author of "From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back."

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