Organic Food in Coleman’s vs. Paarlberg’s Views


People in developed countries are now preoccupied with their health, and they tend to buy organic food that is regarded as beneficial for people’s health, and it is also seen as the future of agriculture. However, there are opinions that organic food can be even harmful to people as well as the entire humanity due to its vulnerability to diseases and low productivity. It is obvious that any customer wants to consume high quality, health, and fresh food free from any genetically modified organisms.

It is the universal truth that the health of a person depends upon the food he consumes. At the same time, no one can deny the fact that without modern technologies in the sphere of agriculture, it is impossible to satisfy the global demand in food products and help “truly undernourished people” (Paarlberg par. 3).

There are different approaches to this problem. There exist adherents of the organic food concept, who believe that food should be produced by means of traditional methods free from fertilizes or pesticides. There are also proponents of industrial food technologies, who review the issue from a broader perspective. They assert that it is impossible to deny the fact of the industrialization in agriculture. For this essay, the following theses have been chosen:

  • the organic food concept has definite benefits for a consumer as well as for a grower;
  • there is a difference between organic food and real food;
  • the real food concept is not able to solve the global food problem.

Two Approaches to the Problem

Difference between Organic and Real Food: Coleman’s Point of View

One of the steadfast advocates of organic food growing is Eliot Coleman. Describing all benefits of organic farming for human health and environmental protection, Coleman asserts that such a term as organic has already outlived its usefulness. The main Colemans idea is that a conception of a mass marketing contradicts the organic food approach. He is convinced that in order to make products produced by food giants competitive, demands for a quality of food to be labeled as organic have been underestimated. In his opinion, the notion of organic food does not mean that it is “superior, safer, or more healthy than conventional food” (Coleman, 2).

The author stresses that organic food has turned into some kind of a global brand rather than a high-quality product as it used to be in the past. The author also notes that products labeled as organic and coming from distant parts of the globe cannot be regarded as the ones that are healthy, safe, and superior. These products should be certified and inspected carefully when they come to the United States.

Now he proposes to use such a term as ‘authentic” or real food. By implementing this notion, he aims to emphasize the main differences between fresh, ripe, and nourishing food produced by growers and food that is now called organic. He also maintains claims for the real food production that are inadmissible for the food giants. The author emphasizes that “authentic” food should be “fresh, ripe, clean, safe and nourishing” (Coleman 3).

Therefore, one of the major features of this kind of food should be the farm location. Products should be grown and sold locally, as this ensures their freshness and overall quality. Authentic food will be beneficial for people if it is produced and consumed locally, as it used to be in the past. The author also insists that producers (not large corporations) should sell the products as only in this case, consumers can be sure in the products’ quality.

Paarlberg’s Criticism of Coleman’s Position

The typical representative of the opposing vision of this problem is Robert Paarlberg. He is convinced that the adherents of organic or real food act from respectable motives. However, they do not understand the food problem on a global scale. He is sure that the debates concerning the nature of real food are a prerogative of the pampered West. It is actual for those countries, citizens of which do not suffer from hunger.

He criticizes the adherents of the organic food theory asserting that all their ideas are inadaptable on a global scale. As a typical case of incapability of this system, he exemplifies African countries. He asserts that “Rural Africa already has such a system, and it doesn’t work” (Paarlberg par. 6). Agricultural products produced in these regions satisfy the requirements of real food farming. They are fresh because the absence of a ramified system of roads makes it impossible for their long transportation. They are healthy because of the lack of highly developed technologies prevents the usage of nitrogen fertilizers or pesticides in their production. At the same time, most people in Africa live below poverty line.

Paarlberg is convinced that only the implementation of the industrial food technologies in accordance with western patterns may save the situation. Moreover, he puts in doubt an ecological advantage of the real food farming. According to Coleman’s opinion, only natural manures should be used in a process of food production. Paarlberg proves that on global scales there will be needed huge territories for this manures production.

It will cause deforestation and other negative effects. Clearly, this will lead to significant negative effects for development of humanity, as it will be associated with climate change as well as under-nutrition of millions. People will starve as ‘organic’ products grow quite slowly and the productivity is quite low as well. Besides, the world has changed significantly since the days when agriculture started developing. Paalberg states that those who advocate development of the so-called ‘organic’ farming tend to focus on the methods applied centuries ago. However, the environment has changed significantly.

There are new diseases and pests that were unknown previously. People have learned to cope with this issue with certain tools. It has been estimated that in Africa “700,000 people die every year from food- and water borne diseases” (Paarlberg 15). Notably, Africa (and many other areas) is the place where food is usually bought in markets with no inspections, labeling and even proper washing. ]


On balance, it is possible to note that it is time to pay more attention to benefits and especially downsides of organic food for people’s health as well as development of the entire humanity. Such organic food growers as Coleman advocate production of “local, seller-grown and fresh” products (Coleman 3). They stress that people should consume fresh products with no chemicals. At the same time, such people as Paarlberg emphasize that this approach is harmful for people’s health, environment and the global economy.

Paarlberg states that people need the tools that have been developed to achieve higher productivity in agriculture, as they will enable humanity to solve many issues associated with environment and overpopulation. Clearly, these two opinions have the right to exist and people have their right to choose whether they will by the so-called ‘organic or authentic’ food. However, it is time to make people think of the darker side of organic food production. Admittedly, consumption of organic food does not seem that sustainable after thinking of its disadvantages.

Works Cited

Coleman, Eliot. “The Benefits of Growing Organic Food.” Mother Earth News. 2001/2002. Web.

Paarlberg, Robert. “Attention Whole Foods Shoppers.” Foreign Policy. 2010. Web.

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