In what the New York Times terms "a fascinating experiment," this California pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, has eaten nothing but organic food for three years. Hard? Yes. Expensive? Very. Worthwhile? Well...
While a lot of people are eating organic, Greene's stunt it noteworthy for its length and thoroughness, eating only organic food — defined as that produced without pesticides, antibiotics or hormones — both at home and in restaurants. "He chose three years as a goal because that was the amount of time it took to have a breeding animal certified organic by the Department of Agriculture. While food growers comply with organic regulations every day, Dr. Greene wondered whether a person could meet the same standards." Obviously, this was pricey — organic food can cost up to twice as much as what Whole Foods parlance terms "conventional," no laughing matter in these straitened times. (He found that cutting down on meat helped equalize the costs.) Then too, even in Dr. Greene's relatively health-conscious neck of the woods (where he was able to join a CSA and shop numerous farmers markets), organic chow could be hard to come by at, say, truck stops. Quoth the good doctor, “It was much more challenging than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be tough. There were definitely days where there was nothing I could find that was organic.” He'd call ahead to make sure restaurants could ensure that no non-organic morsel passed his lips; his family was into it.
Greene's rationale was that "his findings offer new insight into the challenges facing the organic food industry and those of us who want to patronize it." He also hoped it would improve his own health which, anecdotally it has (the scientific verdict is still out on whether organic foods are healthier, with arguments for both sides.)
Three years later, he says he has more energy and wakes up earlier. As a pediatrician regularly exposed to sick children, he was accustomed to several illnesses a year. Now, he says, he is rarely ill. His urine is a brighter yellow, a sign that he is ingesting more vitamins and nutrients.
While the experiment is a laudable one — and, in fairness, predates a lot of the food-related stunt journalism that's glutted the marketplace in recent years, and certainly the recent economic downturn — the rigid and stunt-like nature of it feels slightly arbitrary. It's certainly Dr. Greene's prerogative, and since he has the time and means to do so, more power to him: it's doubtless good to know the practical limitations of theory. It is always encouraging, too, to see a doctor practicing what he preaches. That said, the application is beyond the reach of most everyone, and as such, experiments such as these are feeling increasingly academic.
For Three Years, Every Bite Organic [New York Times]