KD Rough Edge Final Script
Trailer stuff in blue
VO: When you walk into a supermarket you are bombarded with food choices – there’s just so many. One of the toughest decisions to make is whether to buy organic. Organic foods are often twice as expensive compared to their conventional counterparts. But the notion is that you are getting better quality food for that price. Is it really worth it though to buy this organic apple, which traveled all the way from California. Or should you go with the conventional apple grown here in New York.
[Tops (maybe the signs in the front with “fresh” & whatnot)… maybe the shot of me with the shopping cart… farmers market people perusing food… should last shot be Ithaca sign?]
Title “Food Feud” fades in
Sabol: When you are talking to the commercial farms, a lot of the stuff comes in from California so a lot of the stuff has at least three days getting across the country and usually it sits in a warehouse somewhere either in California or on the other end. It can be a week or longer before it sees the grocery shelves.
VO: Organic has become a trendy concept and it’s sweeping through the produce world, making up the highest percentage of organic purchases. Such foods are often thought as natural, healthy and pesticide free. But, is this true?
[For “pesticide free” maybe we could use the CRS water shot?]
Denise Seamon: They’re healthier.
Gabby Root: Nutrient value probably.
Emily: It’s about knowing where you’re food is from and knowing that it doesn’t have the inputs of chemicals and fertilizers and all these things that are full of chemicals and polluting our bodies.
VO: National statistics show over 70 percent of people say they buy organic because they believe it is healthier. The next reason was to avoid pesticides.
Rob Parker: there is no significant difference of nutritional content in organic foods and non organic foods.
VO: Robert Parker is a professor in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. He agreed with a recent Stanford University study that found organic foods are not safer or more nutritious than conventional foods.
Parker: There is the current evidence that suggests it doesn’t make any difference in regards to health.
VO: You may wonder though with over 20,000 pesticides allowed on the conventional foods that we eat everyday, are these fruits and veggies really safe?
Amy Frith: Are they safe well the EPA says they are safe enough to put into our food system. One of the problems with trying to answer this question is that foods don’t have just one pesticide on them. All of these pesticides are individually tested. They’re not tested together and their interactions together.
VO: A pesticide as defined by the environmental protection agency is any substance or mixture intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pests.
Dennis Hartley: It’s amazing that there is a fair amount of people that think organic means no spray, which is not true.
VO: Organic foods are produced with minimum inputs, for the most part this means without synthetic chemicals or food additives. Contrary to popular belief, organic doesn’t mean pesticide-free and the number of chemicals allowed in organic foods has tripled in the last decade. In the 1970s, books like the Silent Spring raised concerns about the effects pesticides might have on health and the environment. People took a stand against large scale conventional farming and pushed for local organic foods. Later, when the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 was passed it created the National Organic Program – setting uniform standards for organic certification. But farmers didn’t have to comply with the standards until 2002. As more multinational farmers began to join the organic industry the cost of organic certification went up – putting a heavy burden on small farmers.
Jon farmer from West Haven Farm at EcoVillage: (06:26) I got a $750 check to reimburse me for part of my certification fees. Of course the cost of my certification fee for our farm went up about $750 when the United States started accrediting the certifiers (06:44).
VO: The high fees associated with organic certification have led many small farmers to discontinue their accreditation or even begin the process.
Sabol: Years ago I did certify, but with the federal standards they made paperwork much more nasty…it cost a fair amount of money to do it.
VO: There are four steps to become certified organic:
First, a farm must choose an accredited organic certifier. A list of appropriate private and government agencies can be found on the USDA website.
Second, a farmer must submit an application and an Organic System Plan to their chosen certification agency. This includes a history of land uses, pest management plans, product labeling and other requirements.
Third, the organic certifier reviews the farmer’s application and the Organic System Plan.
Fourth, the certifier assigns a qualified organic inspector to evaluate the farm.
Then comes the final review, which checks that the farm is in full compliance. If a farmer meets all of the requirements they can stamp on the organic label.
Amy Frith: A lot of these organic companies are really run by the big companies that also have GMO products. On one hand these companies are producing and selling organic foods and on the other they are selling genetically modified products.
VO: The number of non-organic chemicals permitted in organic foods has grown from 77 in 2002 to 250 today. This rate is 15 times higher than the increase seen in chemicals allowed on conventional foods. Heinz, Cargill, General Mills and Kellogg’s are just a few of the Big Food businesses that control the organic industry now. These companies may play a role in the recent addition of non-organic chemicals.
Geza: There are working groups and the working groups do the homework for the agencies. The FDA or some other federal agency buys into it depending on how they can lobby it. (Geza interview Part 03 07:58)
VO: Professor Geza Hrazdina has taught plant science at Cornell University for over 40 years. He explained the lobbyist for these big companies ensured that such chemicals did not have to be labeled. The addition of chemicals and food additives like carrageenan, hit a tipping point for some organic advocates. The Cornucopia Institute called it the “organic watergate” – saying the USDA stacked the national organic standards board with agribusiness executives that abandoned the interests of consumers.
Geza: If it’s business, it’s profit generating. The bigger the profit, the better the business. (Geza interview Part 01 07:15)
VO: Botanical pesticides, also known as BTs, are among the chemicals allowed in organic foods. These substances are natural because they are derived from plants. Natural substances could be just as harmful as synthesized chemicals.
Geza: a chemical is a chemical whether it comes from a plant or whether it comes from a company. If it’s toxic it is toxic. You know, you cannot go around it. (Geza interview Part 01 04:54)
VO: Rotenone is a common chemical allowed in organic produce that has been linked with Parkinsons disease and is classified by the World Health Organization as mildly hazardous.
In some cases organic and conventional farmer use the same pesticides.
Jason Turek (4:34-4:49): We do use some BTs. Especially more so in cabbage because there is more product available for that. [use cabbage shot from Silverqueen]
VO: Turek farms is the third largest conventional vegetable farm in New York. The co-owner said Dipel and Gemstar are two common botanical pesticides they use. Even though organics can use pesticides, studies show there is less pesticide residue on organic foods than conventional. Most organic farmers are advised to only use additional chemicals when absolutely necessary. The EPA has deemed all approved chemicals safe based on short term studies. But there is a lack of information on the long term effects of many chemicals used.
Robert Parker: There are no long term studies examining the actual risk associated with exposure to organically grown foods compared to conventionally grown foods and to specifically examine if those insecticides or pesticide exposure transfers into any meaningful difference in risk for some chronic disease. Those studies simply haven’t been done; they would be very expensive, they would take decades
VO: In addition, genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs, are used extensively on non organic foods. Genetically modified foods have only been around for the last 15 years.
Geza: With the GMOs, genetically modified foods, you are using a single gene and you crank it up to produce more of it, more of its product or you turn the switch and turn it off. It is a single effect versus a number of effects you may be seeing one thing. For example if you want to have a redder apple the apple may be redder but you don’t know the biotrophic effects (Geza interview Part 03 00:42)
VO: So far conventional farmers see that the benefits of GMOs outweigh the risks.
Jason Turek (Jason7 5:12-5:45): A human can digest proteins, our bodies are made to digest proteins. In these gmo’s varieties that they made they realize that a worm’s body is not able to digest proteins. So all these varieties, they emit proteins so if the worm eats it, it’s like swallowing glass.
VO: Jason said that in the south the humid climate forces farmers to spray pesticides everyday, but by genetically modifying foods they only have to spray once or twice a week.
The goal of this process is to get the foods perfectly ripe when they hit the shelves.
Parker: The definition of ripe is not a scientific definition. the term ripe refers to optimal condition as it is defined by the consumer.
VO: A large part of that is how it looks. Farmers are pressured to make their foods look perfect.
Silverqueen: They’re picking through the stuff and they’re looking for something that looks perfect that has absolutely nothing to do with what it tastes like or how nutritious it is. But people have just been trained to think that you know everything has to be perfect. You know, let’s face it. Fruits and vegetables they’re not made in a factory, they’re grown. You know they’re natural things and they’re you know their appearance and the way they taste don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other. (05:30ish part 4) [famers market “students pick/pay”]
VO: There are three basic types of farmers: conventional- those who are allowed to use pesticides, gmos and other chemicals, certified organic- who cannot use most synthesized chemicals and hybrid- who use a combination of processes. Gordon Gallup of Silverqueen Farms uses integrative methods to deal with pest management.
Silver farms: we do all the things organic farmers do but we also do some things that conventional farmers do. (a little after 00:15 part 2)
VO: Littletree Orchards is a local farm in Newfield, New York that isn’t certified organic, but strives for minimum pesticide use.
Dennis: We do a very low spray and I use a lot of IPM, integrated pest management. I use a combination of synthetics and organics, and I do that to keep the bugs guessing. Keep them moving about.
Sabol: We basically use all natural fertilizers, we do have animal manures and compost them for some of the crops too. We also use a composted chicken manure that we buy from a local place.
VO: Hartley emphasized that there are many benefits to buying local foods.
Dennis: You’re not looking at something that has been shipped across country, or god forbid, out of country, taking weeks to get here sometimes and the quality is not as good. The favor is definitely not as good as something that’s been grown local because the local person can pick it right there at peak ripeness, that’s what i do with my peaches.
Frith: If it’s fresher it has more nutrients, if it’s fresher it tastes better.
VO: What really matters is knowing where your food comes from. When you pick up food in the grocery store, it’s almost impossible to know what chemicals were used on it and how long it’s been sitting. But if you buy from local farmers you can ask such questions.
Dennis: I think the ithaca community has really been aware of the local community, they’re definitely moving more toward local people. They like the idea of it, they like supporting local agriculture, there’s a large number of CSA’s in Ithaca, which is kind of amazing for such a small town.
Frith:Local supports a community, it goes to your neighbors, it goes to building your community up, social networks
Silverqueen: at least if you’re buying something local you know where it’s coming from, you know, you can drive down the road and see what kind of farmers they are or actually stop and meet the farmer. (00:29 part 4)
Dennis: The people that are looking at that farmer, they’re asking him a direct question – what are your growing practices/ Are you sustainable? Are you organic are you not organic, what is your spray program?
[farmers market Muddy Fingers guy interacting with customer… labeled “muddy people good”]
Geza: You cannot ask a can or you cannot ask a bunch of radishes. What, what did you have? What was sprayed on you? No, you’re not going to get anything from them but you have feedback from the farmer of course. (Geza interview Part 01 11:49ish)
Dennis: If I give them a name and a chemical name they may not know it. But I do that I ask them a name and I’ll say go look it up online.
Frith: Small farms tend to be very very food stewards because their livelihood is there. They’re not paid by somebody else, they have to keep everything healthy.
*Roll in credits*