Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Industrial Food and the Limits of Science

Take five or ten minutes to read Mark Bittman's takedown of the scientific hackery and incompetence behind the much-ballyhooed Stanford study on the nutritiousness of organic versus conventional food. Some particularly choice points:
...the study was like declaring guns no more dangerous than baseball bats when it comes to blunt-object head injuries.
How can something that reduces your exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria not be 'more nutritious' than food that doesn’t?

Because the study narrowly defines 'nutritious' as containing more vitamins.
[Newcastle University researcher Kirsten Brandt] not only noticed a critical error in properly identifying a class of nutrients, a spelling error indicative of biochemical incompetence (or at least an egregious oversight) that skewed one important result, but also that the researchers curiously excluded evaluating many nutrients that she found to be considerably higher in organic foods.
The kicker: it appears that Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute, which supported the research, gets major financing from... Cargill.

To turn the "[x] is not a science" adage on its head--science is not a science.