Scientific American this month focuses in on the various complexities of our current food situation: "The global paradox of obesity and malnutrition." I'd recommend that anyone who is interested in diet, health and consumption should pick this up.
Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat and NYT contributor, wades through many of the conflicting stories we hear to try to get to a simplified view on what to embrace and what to avoid. On the subject of organics, she writes:
Further research will likely confirm that organic foods contain higher nutrient levels, but it is unclear whether these nutrients would make a measurable improvement in health....Organics may be somewhat healthier to eat, but they are far less likely to damage the environment, and that is reason enough to choose them at the supermarket.
She makes a great point here. As individuals, eating organics might not make a difference, but they certainly aren't hurting us, and they are contributing to better living for the whole. I kept thinking about that as I read an article in SmartMoney about green washing machines that questioned whether they get clothes clean enough. The article points out that, since 1990, washing machines have decreased energy consumption by 56% and subsequently, half as powerful. One thing that's making it easier to ignore a shadow of a wine stain: new washers are cool looking. Rainbow colored, smaller, and with touch screen panels, people want them in their homes. While I have to wonder: are our clothes really that dirty?, using other appeals to make it easier for appliance purchasers will help them follow Marion Nestle and endure slightly more in the short term with the understanding that it'll make the long term brighter for everyone.