Food & Drink

Stop buying organic food if you want to save the planet says New Scientist

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Tom Fordy
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In news that may cause smug foodies on Instagram to spit out their free trade falafel, organic food may actually doing more harm to the environment than good.

Yes, even if you’ve been buying elderflower ale and quinoa-stuffed wholewheat pasta at the local Wholefoods in the hope you’re making a difference to the planet, according to an article published on the New Scientist, you might actually be killing it.

According to the research, farming is still the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions (behind heating and electricity), with organic farming doing more environmental damage than conventional farming – not only do they produce more emissions, but because of the lower yield of crops, organic farms require more land. In the tropics this means cutting down more rainforests, affecting not only emissions but wildlife (honestly, what would Attenborough say?).

It also says that buying local doesn’t guarantee a reduced carbon footprint than food flown thousands of miles, as it all depends on the production process.

The answer, according to New Scientist, could actually be GM crops, which may be reducing emissions even though they weren’t originally intended to. Now trials are planned for GM crops that can boost photosynthesis and up yields by 15 to 20 per cent. A tough argument for the health food crowd to swallow, undoubtedly.

In 2012, more than 200 studies conducted at Stanford University found very little evidence that organic food is actually more nutritional either  – a terrible blow for any who’s forced themselves to live off avocados and juice in a vain, thoroughly depressing effort to keep themselves regular.

Of course others have come out to challenge the articles, with the Soil Association claiming that reporter Michael Le Page has misread the evidence.

But, so say New Scientist, if you want to do your bit for the planet, get yourself a non-organic Big Mac and turn the heating down. It’s good for everyone’s health.

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Tom Fordy

Tom Fordy is a London-based writer. He is former men's magazine editor and is now works as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and opinionated beard for hire. His interests include the great literary works of the 20th century, New Wave European cinema and the career of Hulk Hogan. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TheTomFordy

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