Organic Food

One of the problems with science communication is that we are always a day or two behind the mass media. The general pattern is this:

  1. Bad research is published or a crazy person makes a crazy claim.
  2. The mass media gets a hold of it, and broadcasts it all over the world.
  3. Sane people are alerted to this nonsense, who then have to craft an evidence-based response. That takes a substantial amount of time and effort and, as a result, a lie circles the globe before the truth gets its shoes on.

A preemptive solution is ideal. Science communicators should hunt down kooky conspiracies, then take them behind the barn and shoot them before they have the opportunity to gain a substantial following. But here's the catch: How does one identify which...

Several years ago, during a layover in Copenhagen's airport, I struck up a conversation with an elderly British couple. The husband told me about growing up in the United Kingdom during World War II, when the British had implemented food rationing.

He recalls complaining to his mother that he didn't like the food they had to eat. She responded, in that "keep calm and carry on" manner that is so very British, "You don't have to like it. You just have to eat it."

Things have changed since then, not just in Britain but throughout Europe and in the United States. We now have so much food that we have the luxury of condemning most of it as impure or unhealthy. People can afford to pay a hefty premium at fancy outlets like Whole Foods (...

The New York Times has some of the worst science coverage in the nation, its Tuesday section notwithstanding. The Times shamelessly promotes alternative medicine and organic food while scaremongering over "chemikillz" and trashing scientists who work in biotechnology.

There's a reason for that. Not only is the paper trying to appeal to its elite, Upper West Side clientele, but the New York Times's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., is married to Gabrielle Greene, who is on the board of Whole Foods. In May...

Living in Seattle, food phobias are everywhere. If you're afraid of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, GMOs, hormones in meat, pesticides, gluten, or anything that requires a PhD scientist to produce, then Seattle is your organic Mecca. Despite that Seattle's economy is partially built on the biotech sector (not to mention that the much-loved University of Washington has an enormous biomedical science program -- of which yours truly is a graduate), Seattle is a global headquarters of kooky food fads and alternative medicine.

Why? The entire "natural is better" movement is predicated upon fear. Scaring people is a time-tested tactic employed by politicians. If a politician wants elderly people to vote for him, he will tell them that his opponent will take away their...

When it comes to food, biotech, and health reporting, the New York Times is at least consistent: It is guaranteed to be wrong every single time.

Recently, it ran a very strange article about traces of glyphosate in Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It's strange for two reasons: (1) Ben & Jerry's is vehemently anti-GMO; and (2) It doesn't matter if there are traces of glyphosate in your ice cream.

Ben & Jerry's Gets 'Greenmailed'

Like Whole Foods, Ben & Jerry's has profited handsomely by scaring people about the safety of the food supply. The company is anti-GMO and supports GMO labeling. However, that...

One time, Business Insider decided to go grocery shopping. They purchased 31 items from Whole Foods and 31 identical items from one of its biggest competitors, Kroger. The bill from Whole Foods was 45% more than the bill from Kroger*.

For this reason, Whole Foods has earned the monicker "Whole Paycheck." And it is also for this reason that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's complaint that his investors are too greedy is a delicious irony that we must savor together.

Whole Foods is in trouble. Revenues are falling, largely because other stores like Walmart and Target decided to jump aboard the organic food wagon. Basically, the grocery outlets that Whole...

When a company fires several board members, things are not going well. That's what Whole Foods just did.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods stores are struggling. In the 2nd quarter of 2017, sales fell by nearly 3%. This isn't a one-off result. Revenue growth has been trending downward since 2012. Then, in the 4th quarter of 2015, revenue growth hit negative territory, meaning that sales actually began to shrink. Since 2013, Whole Foods's stock price has fallen by almost 50%.

To stop the bleeding, Whole Foods brought in new board members with retail and financial experience.

What Is Going on at Whole...

Science writers have long suspected that the anti-GMO movement is linked to the anti-vaccine movement. Indeed, both are predicated upon one of the biggest myths in modern society: "Natural is better."1

In an interview with Science, Seth Mnookin recalled how a public health official warned him that anti-vaxxers were particularly prominent in locations that had a Whole Foods. Mr. Mnookin concluded, "It's those communities with the Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people."

So, that's why it wasn't surprising when March Against Monsanto, a group that opposes GMOs, became a...

RT is the Kremlin's propaganda outlet in the United States and around the world. As such, it broadcasts "news" (mostly, the fake variety) that advances the agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One such agenda is undermining American dominance in science and technology, and RT has played its part by serving as a constant source of misinformation. The report released by the Director of National Intelligence on Russia's interference in the U.S. election concluded that RT is spouting anti-fracking propaganda as a way to undermine the natural gas industry in the United States. Why? Because fracking lowers the prices of fossil fuels, which severely harms Russia's economy....

Imagine going to the doctor's office. Noticeably absent are any modern tools -- laptops, DNA tests, X-ray scanners. He likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Medicine was better 100 years ago. How long would it take before you ran screaming out the door?

Yet, that's precisely the attitude the organic food and "back to nature" movements embrace.

In most things in life, we desire cutting-edge technology: Faster computers, self-driving cars, virtual reality, high-definition TV1. From telecommunications and transportation to healthcare and entertainment, we demand the very best that money can buy.

But not food. We don't want technology anywhere near that. Neanderthal know-how is perfectly fine, thanks. What is going on?

Organic Is the...