Green Weenie of the Week: Organic Diets

One of the great frauds of our time is the promiscuous use of “organic” as another form of virtue-signalling, and also of out-of-control marketing. I doubt there is any serious evidence of health differences between people who eat a diet rich in “organic” produce versus people who consume equal amounts of supposedly “non-organic” produce.

Where do people think supposedly “non-organic” carrots come from—a Starfleet replicator? Yes, I get the idea that it refers to food produced without conventional fertilizers or pesticides, but by now it is well known that this kind of “organic” produce uses a lot more land than conventional “non-organic” agriculture, thus reducing the amount of land available for other natural uses, like habitat, or just lying fallow. How much more land? A lot.

The Journal of Cleaner Production has just published a study out of Germany that finds “organic” food uses up to 40 percent more land than conventional agriculture:

Carbon footprints and land use of conventional and organic diets in Germany


Organically produced food is often considered more environmentally friendly than conventionally produced food, and Germany is one of the most important and rapidly growing markets for organic food in Europe. However, the carbon footprints and land use of organic diets, and how they compare to conventional diets, have not yet been quantified. Using food consumption data from the German National Nutrition Survey II, and carbon footprint and land-use data from life cycle assessment studies of conventional and organic food products, carbon footprints and land use of conventional and organic diets in Germany were calculated for three consumer categories: men, women and their combined unweighted average. Conventional diets are defined as the average diet of consumers who do not buy organic food products; organic diets are the average diets of consumers whose food purchases include a large share of organic food products. Greenhouse gas emissions associated with land use change are not included. The carbon footprints of the average conventional and organic diets are essentially equal (ca. 1250 CO2-eq cap−1 year−1), while the land use to provide food is ca. 40% greater in the organic diet (ca. 1900 and 2750 m2 of land cap−1 year−1 in the conventional and organic diets, respectively).

And if you use that much more land for producing food, where are you going to put all the new windmills?

And don’t forget: we’re all vegetarians, but some of us are content to let the cow or chicken do most of the work first.

Bonus reminder: