There is no discernible nutritional difference between food from the farmer's market and food from the supermarket, scientists report. But there is a dramatic price variation, and that status separation was the point all along.
People don't pay for better-for-you. They pay for better-than-you.
The study, released earlier this week by medical researchers at Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA, found essentially the same protein, vitamin, and fat content between organic and standard store-bought food. Normal food did exhibit slightly higher pesticide residues, which is another way of saying bugs ate your organic food before you did.
It may be best to refrain from sharing this health news with people who tend to be evangelical regarding their dietary beliefs. The crowd at Whole Foods can be downright preachy. America's leading advice columnists surely have a bead on emerging forms of table snobbery, which have shifted from the proper placement of utensils to the farming techniques used to raise consumables.
The hostess of a dinner party informs Ask Amy, "An invited guest has stated that she can eat only organic food purchased at a specific specialty store. This can be very expensive and I'm not prepared to do it." Another woman tells of how the wealthier moms in her daughter's playgroup ostracize her. "I sent some homemade cookies and store-bought veggies and dip for the snack last week," the mom tells Dear Prudence, "and apparently this was not up to snuff! The mothers said that my vegetables were clearly not homegrown and organic and that they could taste the pesticides and preservatives on them. They asked if I knew that ranch dip is high in cholesterol and saturated fat which leads to heart disease."
The words that come out of their mouths, as much as the food that goes in them, exemplify the arrogance. Wonder Bread is as organic -- i.e., it is the stuff of living material -- as Joseph's Heart Healthy Pita Bread. It may not be as healthy. It is as organic. It's hard to believe, but even the glassed-in edibles under that red lamp at 7-11 are organic. Who awarded wealthy white food fascists the copyright to the word "organic"?
Inspired by Stanford's report, I conducted my own scientific study and discovered that eating organic food results in a dire medical condition called DBS. That's doctor jargon for, well -- the last letter stands for "syndrome" and the second one stands for "bag." And that "D"? Even Scaramouche could deduce despite my inner censor giving it the shoosh.
Symptoms of DBS include a preference for European football over American football, a belief that watching Charlie Rose makes one an intellectual, and a penchant for wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing, such as shorts in winter or turtlenecks in summer.
If you know a couple married by a priestess wearing a rainbow-colored "Coexist" stole, who raise cats rather than kids, where the husband sports a ponytail and the wife a boy's regular, and who go by separate last names, chances are they are burdened with DBS.
Rural America, which presumably harvests most of America's organic food, remains strangely immune from DBS. The affliction reaches epidemic proportions around Harvard Square, on Telegraph Avenue, and in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Like hepatitis A, DBS is spread by foul digestibles -- Trader Joe's seems an especially egregious incubator of the illness. But like hepatitis C, DBS seems as much a social disease as anything else. It's contagious, so be careful who you break whole-grain bread with.
If you recognize the symptoms of DBS in yourself, don't fret. An antidote exists. Developed by a medicine man known as Mayor McCheese, alongside his lab assistants Grimace and the Hamburglar, the Big Mac offers curative powers in its yummy deliciousness. It has spawned generic imitators: the Whopper, the Chalupa Supreme, Dave's Hot N Juicy 3/4 lb. Triple, and, of course, the Fatburger XXXL. They all work, so for less than $4 -- approximately the price of an apple at Whole Foods -- DBS can be successfully treated.
Once tasting the bounty of the Golden Arches, one tends to avoid the farmer's market.
For people who have made a religion of science, the Stanford study's findings will be as difficult to swallow as a gluten-free cupcake. But, as we are reminded from debates over global warming and evolution, science has spoken -- so shut up and eat it.