The Organic Life?

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Somewhat sadly, I just cancelled my subscription to “Organic Living”, formerly called “Organic Gardening”. I just couldn’t take the abuse of science—and sometimes common sense--any longer.
Let me explain: For about a year, I have become intensely wrapped up in the disputes between the reality of the world and the so-called “truth” of the claims that organic purists make. As I’ve read and studied, I’ve determined that some of what the “organic” movement claims is rooted in an idealistic, totally unreasonable, frequently unscientific, and unsupportable view of the world. What specifically led me to cancel my “Organic Living” subscription was a series of articles in their July/August issue supporting homeopathy. If a national magazine (or any other source) is going to publish information in support of an obvious pseudo-science like homeopathy, I will not have my money and name be associated with supporting them.
First, a brief explanation of homeopathy (for more details: Homeopathy was “invented” in the late 18th century—before any understanding of germs or modern medicine—by one Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann lived in an age when bloodletting was common; to his credit, he thought bloodletting was wrong. Hahnemann came up with two (idiotic) ideas: 1) like cures like, and 2) the law of infinitesimals.

His first idea is that giving a person something that causes sickness in a healthy person will also cure that same sickness in a sick person. In other words, if it makes a heathy person feverish, it’ll make a sick person stop being feverish, or whatever. Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while. Alternatively, read page 63 of the new July/August edition of “Organic Living” where a person claims that breast cells (I have no idea how one gets ahold of breast cells) cured hay fever. (!?) Hahnemann’s second idea was even more ludicrous. He claimed that the more dilute a substance was, the “stronger” and more effective it would be. As a result, most homeopathic remedies are so diluted in (usually) water that literally not even a single molecule of the substance thought to provide the “cure” is left remaining in the solution. Hahnemann believed the water contained a “memory” of the substance that allowed it to be effective, despite its dilution to the point of quite literally vanishing. Hahnemann was full of _______—you fill in the blank.

Anyway, long story short, a nationally prominent magazine, “Organic Living” is now proudly and publicly supporting this ridiculous pseudo-science. If they are this obtuse, what other tripe is getting though their filters? My year of study has also revealed that much other commonly accepted organic “wisdom” is also suspect. Please don’t misunderstand, I absolutely recognize organic ideas have a lot going for them, especially for the home gardener. Alas, they also come with a lot of philosophical crap and misinformation.
I’d like to discuss these thoughts more with DG folk.

I look forward to a thoughtful exchange.

This message was edited Jun 11, 2015 2:50 PM

This message was edited Jun 11, 2015 5:04 PM

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

The organic movement, as a whole, went off the rails a while ago. There's a huge disconnect between what many people think is "organic" and what the USDA standard means, nevermind the dozens of other organic standards floating around.

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a lady at a farmer's market yell at a hydroponic farmer for not growing organic tomatoes, while she complained that no one had organic, local tomatoes. In April. (For those that don't know, there's no standard for labeling hydroponic operations as organic, and may not be for many years... if ever.)

There are hundreds of so-called science news media outlets that churn out garbage masquerading as fact. They glean their news from pay-to-play science journals and pander to the nauseating levels scientific illiteracy in this country -- plus people being suckers for click bait headlines. You won't believe what happens when she scrolls past 6 articles in her Facebook news feed that are fear-mongering "news" based on vague science-y wording!

One way bad science gets spun into media fact:

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

IMHO homeopathy IS total nonsense. It's snake oil. Also, a LOT of people freak out over GMOs. 80% or more of what people buy are GMO. There is NOTHING wrong with GMOs. You've been eating them YOUR WHOLE LIFE. Same with Gluten (which seems to be the latest stupid fad), unless you have Celiac Disease IT'S PERFECTLY FINE.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

NicoleC: Thanks for the response. I had heard about the chocolate deal but hadn't read the article yet. The fellow did a nice job exposing ignorance and credulity, eh? The media does such a poor job in checking facts and understanding science; they're mainly just looking for something sensational to fill 24 hour time slots, IMHO.

Tommy: Yep, pure nonsense! Hard to believe that anyone in this day and age could believe such tripe. I do think many don't really understand what homeopathy is. I think many assume it to be some kind of herbalism, not that most herbalism is worthwhile either. I felt if the magazine staff could knowingly promote such an obvious fraud (aka load of crap), what else is naively being passed on as "true". NicoleC (above) gave a good answer; the websites she referred to are gullibly believed and passed on by the likes of OL because their claims support the lofty "organic ideal". Gosh and golly be shucks, if it's called "Natural News" or "Environmental Working Group", it just MUST be legit.

Two excellent books: "The Dose Makes the Poison" by Frank and Ottoboni and "Mendel in the Kitchen" by Federoff and Brown.

Two sources to ALWAYS ignore: The Food Babe and Zen Honeycutt's "Moms Across America".

Fun fact: That "evil, profit-mongering, all powerful devil" known as Monsanto isn't as large as Starbucks.

This message was edited Oct 5, 2015 3:38 PM

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Don't throw too many stones at herbal medicine: 40% of the US pharmacopeia are drugs that are 100% botanical, and about 80% are partially or indirectly botanically derived. "About" 80% because stuff moves back and forth. 2 years ago, Tamiflu was botanical, now they synthesize the same chemical in a lab. If the plants involved get cheap again, they'll probably switch back to the plant version. Both the natural and synthetic versions work exactly the same.

The plant worked fine for a few thousand years before scientists discovered how it did and packaged it up under a patent, it works fine when it comes in a sanitary pharmacy-dispensed pill, and it *still* works fine as a plant.

That doesn't mean the little capsules in the heath food store actually have the plant material in them they claim -- they often don't -- or that it has been processed in a way to be medicinally effective or that the person taking them is doing so properly and has diagnosed themselves correctly just because they bought a book of "herbal remedies."

Point being: don't blame the products of modern science OR tradition with a broad brush. Some work, some don't, some cause more harm than good. Blame the lack of critical thinking that leads a lot of people I meet to kneejerk and assume all new science must be bad/dangerous or else everything old and traditional is automatically stupid/outdated.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Chuckl. All in the name of promotionals, ads, and refusing to think for oneself. Pick and choose, do. Think you guys summed it up. Hard to discuss rational commonsense.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Nicole--agreed. Trouble is most herbalism as commonly practiced--and as sold in pharmacies and such, is mostly not backed up with data. An example here is the Food Babe, who recommends chewing willow bark instead of taking, you know, a CHEMICAL like store-bought aspirin. For FB, better to chew on a piece of "natural" substance, with an unknown quantity of the active ingredient and who knows what other irrelevant contaminants. My fave Food Babe story came when she was horrified that air plane cabins were pressurized with not just oxygen, but--horrors--nitrogen, too! That particular blog post has since been removed. It is almost criminal that FB can make a living promoting incorrect information.

The trouble with any herbal usage is that generally a doctor isn't included in the picture and that modern medicine is sometimes excluded to the preference of "natural" products. A neighbor, with good medical insurance. eschewed modern cancer treatment a few years ago and instead went to an "herbalist" in Mexico. The neighbor is dead, having died just a few months after his diagnosis. Similarly, a very cheap, distant relative insisted on not using "expensive, chemical" cholesterol medication and instead used garlic extract. She's dead, too.

No question that modern medicine has benefitted greatly from natural sources and even folk lore, but give me science and quality-controlled products, not the person in the farmers market booth telling me that her "herbal, natural" product will make me healthier.

This message was edited Jun 11, 2015 4:35 PM

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

The problem is that people believe it bc they want to. They like the idea of organic or all natural, they don't care to know what it actually means. Chemicals can be natural or synthetic until people get over that warm fluffy feeling they get over the word organic and actually try to educate themselves. These products will continue to be produced and sold as long as people are willing to buy them. Supply and demand.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Going a bit astray from the homeopathic idea that prompted my initial post, here is the kind of tripe that is all to often associated with "organic" and "farmers markets" (it's from the promotional info for a local farmers market):

"Moonstone is currently the state gem of Florida, to commemorate the Moon landings, which took off from Florida. Despite it being the state gem, it does not naturally occur in Florida
The Romans admired moonstone, as they believed it was born from solidified rays of the moon. Both the Romans and Greeks associated Moonstone with their lunar gods.
Since earliest times, Moonstone has been a tangible connection to the magic of the moon - an amulet of protection for travelers, a gift of lovers for passion, a channel for prophecy, and a path to wisdom. Our ties to the moon are strong. As the moon cycles through its phases, it creates the tides and rhythms of our Earth, and influences our behaviors, emotions and spiritual growth. Moonstone calms and encourages, teaching us the natural rhythms of life.
Moonstone has been used in Roman jewelry for nearly two thousand years, even longer in the Orient. It has always been a sacred stone in India with a special significance for lovers, and is a traditional wedding gift. It was a popular choice for jewelers in the Art Nouveau period, and in Europe was believed to reunite estranged lovers and to cure sleeplessness.
Moonstone is and has been the leading gemstone used in talismans. Amulets of Moonstonewere frequently hung in fruit trees to ensure fruitful and abundant crops.
There are several types of Moonstone.
Blue, or Cat's Eye Moonstone, promotes clarity of the mind and inner vision, keeping one focused while in a meditative or altered state of awareness. It is particularly helpful in seeing emotional patterns and life lessons, and in balancing yin and yang energies.
Gray Moonstone is a stone of perceiving beyond the veil: useful to the clairvoyant and shaman, and in moving one into unseen realms. It is called the "New Moon Stone" and carries the mysteries and powers of the new moon, where all things exist as potential.
White Moonstone carries the energy of the new moon at the height of its power, stimulating psychic perception, vision and dream work. It can magnify one's emotions, activating the dormant energy in women and emotional balance in men, and is supportive in children to drive away nightmares or insomnia.
Peach or Yellow Moonstone supports the heart as it stimulates the mind, soothing worry or anxiety, and bringing out the best in people. Its loving energy promotes the Divine in all situations, and is an emotional support for intuitive or sensitive children.
Rainbow Moonstone acts as a prism, diffusing energy throughout the aura. It provides psychic protection, clearing the mind and senses, and aids in lucid dreaming and calm sleep. It deflects negativity and eases emotional trauma. Aligned with the Goddess, Rainbow Moonstones connect with the energies and spirits of Nature, from plant devas to galactic consciousness.
In Asia and Europe it was believed Moonstone opened the heart to nurturing qualities as well as assisting in the acceptance of love. It is an excellent stone for first or new love, and is a comforting talisman if love must be kept a secret. It was also believed to be able to reunite loved ones who had parted in anger.
Moonstone is also the stone of love and eroticism, stimulating the dormant energy and carnal desires. It is the ultimate fertility stone. A Moonstone necklace worn during making love at full moon harmonizes the body into the natural lunar cycle. Or, for fidelity or fertility, make a grid of thirteen Moonstone crystals with a circle of the twelve months around a bedroom, and one centered under the bed.
As a “professional support” stone, Moonstone aids dancers and artists in their self-expression, inspires the heart and feeling in executives, and helps educators in sharing activities. It enhances self-acceptance in waiters and waitresses, and promotes sensitivity in psychologists and secretaries.
Peach Moonstone is particularly consoling to anyone who feels helpless because of weight problems, and should be worn to encourage one to love and value themselves for who they are, as is, and to assist in separating food from emotional needs.
The Chinese culture uses moonstone to balance the power of yin and yang for better health. Moonstone's emotional connection makes it most effective when placed at the 2nd or Sacral/Spleen Chakra.
Moonstone in India is quite a sacred stone and only permitted to be displayed on a yellow cloth. In this culture they called the moonstone Candra Kanta, and it is told that moonlight from a full moon gives the gemstone occult and magical powers. It is believed to bring much good fortune and allows one to see the future.
In astrology Moonstone is associated with Pisces.
Moonstone physical healing energy helps in attuning to the normal rhythms of the biological forces of one's body and to utilize natural energy cycles. It powerfully affects the female reproductive system, enhancing fertility and promoting ease in pregnancy and childbirth, alleviates menstrual problems and change-of-life, balances the hormonal system and eliminates fluid retention.
Moonstone can act as a growth stone for children and teenagers, and has been thought to slow the degeneration of the elderly. It may also alleviate degenerative conditions of the skin, hair, eyes, and the fleshy organs of the body.
Moonstone may also be used to enhance the assimilation of nutrients, eliminate toxins, and treat disorders of the digestive and elimination systems.
Moonstone emotional healing energy has long been known for its calming, soothing qualities on the emotional body. Its energy is balancing and healing, assisting in the mastery of emotions by bringing them under the control, rather than expressing or repressing them. It also helps identify emotional patterns that are stored in the subconscious, and serves as a guardian to contain explosive passions, and to stimulate confidence and composure. Moonstones can be placed at the center of the chin (the Moon Center) to create this balance.
Moonstone is especially calming to children. It soothes those away from home at night, drives away nightmares and encourages sleep. It is also used to treat sleepwalking.
Moonstone chakra healing and balancing energy uses the white crystal energies present in all Moonstones have an association with the Crown Chakra and our spiritual center. They represent personal identification with the Infinite, and oneness with God, peace and wisdom.
Moonstone spiritual energy, always sacred in India, was the stone of the gods and goddesses, of hope and spiritual purity through denial of the ego. It combats materialism and strengthens the faith of religious people in all cultures. Hermits, monks and other contemplatives withdrawn from society for spiritual reasons, find a special affinity for Moonstone.
Moonstone color energy carries White energy, the embodiment of cleanliness, purity, unity and innocence. The timeless, natural powers of the white rays are those of the moon, the color we see when the moon reflects the sun's light to us.
(Please note: Information in this article is no substitute for consulting a health care professional. All information contained including information relating to medical and health conditions, and treatments, is for informational purposes only. Please see your doctor or health care professional before starting any alternative treatments, diets, supplements or exercise programs.)"

Willy's final comment: Please note the disclaimer at the bottom of the "moonstone love-in".

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

Thanks for debunking some beliefs that unfortunately are all too common.

Another homeopathic delusion was that the more dilute the dose, the more potent it was. Followers of S.C. Hahnemann and W. Gutman would dilute doses up to one decillionth of the original amount (until it was likely that not a single molecule of the original medicine survived!)

This and other myths from flying saucers to pyramid cultists are treated in Martin Gardiner's book "Fads and Fallacies in the name of Science" (published in paperback in 1952 and updated in 1957). You may be able to find a copy in a used book store.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

There's a new issue of "Scientific American" magazine on the shelves now. The entire issue is focused on food and agriculture.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

DonShirer: Thanks for your comment. Martin Gardner was a real gem; I have a book of his called "Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus".

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I think we have the Internet to thank for the propagation of the misinformation out there. I know that is where my daughter-in-law gets her muddled-up information on dieting. I have bought her top rated cookbooks for healthy cooking, and she will still get recipes from some guru on YouTube that call for weird exotic ingredients that the local grocery doesn't carry - and one doesn't need to eat healthy.

Hobart, IN

Are you all done???

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Well, I am still breathing and my parents lived into their 90's, so probably not.

Savannah, GA

Sadly there isn't science in science anymore. It's become what I call "agenda based".

The word "organic" doesn't even mean what people think it means!!! When I bring my homegrown tomatoes to work for people, I hear them tell each other about my "organic" tomatoes. I have never ever used that word in reference to my garden. Sometimes I ask them what they mean when they use that term. THEY CAN'T EVEN ANSWER ME!!! They use a word they admit they don't even know what it means! These are just regular folks repeating what's been spread through the media and advertising. It's become a mainstream concept merely by repetition.

People are just as stupid and superstitious as they were 10's of thousands of years ago when we became the species that we are now. We have the power of the web to learn things, and I read about how "big pharma" invented chemotherapy because it actually causes cancer and it's a big profit making conspiracy.

I had a neck problem and actually went to a chiropractor for awhile. There was a TV in the waiting room streaming psuedoscience propaganda such as "nobody really knows how vaccines work" and how "bacteria doesn't cause disease"

There is a popular health food nutrition "expert" that claims yogurt is "bad" because it contains "left turning bacteria". I'm a microbiologist in a hospital lab and had never heard of such a thing. Still, I'm pretty low on the totem pole so I asked my then supervisor who has a higher degree and has worked all over the world. He didn't know what I was talking about either.

So that being said, I've had some great results from some "organic" gardening methods. Like the streptomyces for various fungus wilts and soil additives like glacial rock dust.

Of course the dust of rocks contains no carbon but what do facts matter anymore.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I avoid using the word "organic" to avoid misunderstandings. I had enough chemistry pounded into my head in school, that for me "organic" will always mean "contains carbon". Ironically, that means I define glacial rock dust and decomposed granite sand as "inorganic" and petroleum products as "organic". I do use the former and not the latter in the garden however.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Petroleum is "organic" to me also, but not biodegradable. I was told,regarding gardening,it meant it contained something that could be found in nature. Now I'm not sure what it means, or if it even has an agreed upon definition.

South Florida, FL(Zone 10b)

Yeah, I would browse the old version of the magazine when it was about "natural" gardening methods and sometimes interesting. I have no desire to waste my time on what they are pushing now. I'm not an "organic purist" by any means, but I do strive to use natural and chemical free products for my veggies.

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Are you all done yet? There is a lot of venting going on that i am not sure is appropriate for this forum. There are people who choose to garden naturally, with non-toxic methods of treating garden pests and diseases, who choose to compost to create healthy soil, who choose not to dump toxic chemicals on the soil and disrupt the natural balance of things. This is how i choose to garden and i would like to talk to like-minded people about their methods, successes, failures in the effort. I would like this to be a productive forum. This is the "Organic Gardening forum" for people like me. I for one would appreciate many of you who are "Anti-organic or anti-natural" in your garden preferences to move to another forum. Maybe you could call it the "venting forum in favor of gardening with pesticides and insecticides" this forum may proceed as i presume it was intended to without the pollution coming from many long angry posts. Maybe there could be a "soapbox forum" where you can freely vent without trashing the purpose of this forum and we can proceed in a more positive and productive manner.

Dallas, TX

Thank you, vitrsna. Well put.

Hobart, IN

vitrsna - I totally agree. Took it to Admin a while back but was informed that this is an open forum with the intent to generate discussion. I don't come to the forum to debate or defend. Some "trolling" last year has inhibited my participation in this forum.

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Thank you txflower and CindyM. When i first looked at this forum, i didn't realize that this is just one thread of it titled "Organic Life" and that there is much more history to the forum than this one angry ranting trolling thread. It is unsettling though that so many people responded to it. I think it is okay and we can save this forum by simply ignoring and not responding to this thread and move on with new threads that are positive and productive. If trolling comes up again, we can ignore it. Please don't abandon us Cindy. Let's start again. txflower, do you have leaf cutter ants in Dallas? I have a leaf cutter ant problem but i don't know if other people following the forum (if anyone is left) have leaf cutter ants in their areas. Anyway, i'll start a thread to find out. If the two of you can each start a new thread re organic gardening, maybe people will see that we have moved on. If trolling appears on any of our threads, the thing to do is ignore it or tell them trolling comments are not appropriate to this thread. There are at least 3 of us so we can participate in each other's threads to assure that a troller does not pollute it. Some time today or this evening, i'll come up with a new thread. I hope you two can do the same, or maybe participate in threads prior to this one and bring them back to life. What do you think?

This message was edited Sep 29, 2015 9:08 AM

Hobart, IN

I was so excited to find this forum a few years back but the trolling, lack of respect for alternative gardening/life style and lack of posts have caused me to question a yearly subscription. I would hate that posts would have to decline into "flaming" to generate admin response like on other gardening websites. I also thought that such comments were better suited to a soapbox/sandbox forum.

Dallas, TX

Thanks, V. I'll look for it. And hope that eventually this thread will float to the bottom.

And don't give up on us, Cindy. Think I've seen some of your posts, know not where, but your name looks familiar.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Sorry if I offended anyone. It was not my intention. I am "unwatching" this thread, but not dropping this forum. Yet. You might to also take a look at the vegetable garden forum. The advice is at least "best management" practices, and most of it is organic. Ditto Fruits and Nuts forum, although it isn't as active.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Just so everyone understands, I posted this thread originally in the Veggies forum. DG admin moved it to this forum.

As I read through all the posts, I see no "anger" or "venting". Disagreement does not imply anger, nor venting, nor disrespect. If you will read the first post, you'll see that I too use organic techniques. My post was regarding a nationally prominent magazine supporting pseudoscience (homeopathy). The fact they did that leads me to question their reliability.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you Willy and Pollen for pointing these issues out. I don't see any "trolling" either. I don't see any agreement on what Organic Gardening really is??

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Another thought.."Nolo" bait is Organic for killing grasshoppers but a DG bee keeper said that it carries a virus that is dangerous to bees.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Thanks, 1lisac!

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