Erin Roan MacDonald

Misquote Firman E. Bear Organic vs. Conventional Graph

My last post was a graph showcasing the difference between organic vs. conventional. It came to me via Facebook and was posted by a few different people. I did not think it over. I sent it to farmer Dad, who was already familiar with the misuse of that study.

These highest and lowest values have been misrepresented as vegetables grown organically and inorganically, respectively, in various organic farming and healthfood newsletters, which cite the report (copies of the misquotes are available on request).–Rutgers

The study was not to compare either. It analyzed mineral composition between the north vs. the south and the east vs. the west. It did not collect data referring to organic or chemical fertilizers. If you think about, it was 1948. How much interest do you suppose there was at that time exploring organic vs. conventional? The concept had barely surfaced.

Read more on the misquotes in “Variation in Mineral Composition of Vegetables” at Rutgers

I found this website about healing from diseases containing the full Firman E. Bear report as  a PDF. This chart is dropped into the PDF and cited from a website in Australia, even though it was not part of the original 1948 report.

Conspiracy? I don’t know, what do you think? Surely organic is better for you and better for the planet but this is not the chart.


3 replies to “Misquote Firman E. Bear Organic vs. Conventional Graph

  1. in the 1948 post war world there was lots of interest in what was then conventional (now organic) farming compared to the then new form of agriculture ie. chemical / agri-industrial farming (now conventional). there had just been a war and food supplies were scarce in the UK…lots of research was done and new ways to increase production were looked at. it was the start of a revolution in farming. the concepts of new and old were reversed then…just because they didn’t call it organic doesn’t mean it wasn’t….

    1. @Smee

      The issue wasn’t about whether there was or wasn’t an interest in organic methods of agriculture in 1948. I am familiar with the history of organic farming. The problem was that the Firman E. Bear study has been misquoted and now there is this chart going around accredited to that study, which appears to be falsely joined to the study of “Variation in Mineral Composition of Vegetables”.

  2. Yes, I got this chart on FB and it “confirmed ” the lies I’d been hearing about depleted topsoil and the poorer nutritional values of food grown today. Well, I went to my Oklahoma Extension Service today and asked them. They said that crops are much more nutritious today because the seed varieties are much improved, as are the farming methods. For example, wheat used to be chest high in the fifties and yield 40 bushels an acre and is now knee high and yields up to 200 bushels an acre (well, something like that – it was the example the man helping me gave about his brother’s family farm in Kansas). It is much better to have short wheat stalks, because they don’t fall over and become hard to harvest. And there is GPS on the tractors and computers to measure the yield that is being harvested as they go and that tells the farmer what areas of the field specific fertilizers are needed for the next crop cycle.

    The chart is BS. What’s the next item up for scrutiny here on the interwebs?

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