Sunday, June 29, 2014


Today I took a look at reviews of my book - The Safe Food Handbook: How to Make Smart Choices about Risky Food on Amazon. Maybe not a wise thing to do on a gloomy cold “summer” day in California. The reviews were mixed, as reviews often are. Some were very positive. Others less so. You can’t please everyone.

I noticed that one of the criticisms was that the book did not focus enough on the benefits of eating organic food. Alright, I learned soon after the book’s publication that answering criticisms of the book was a frustrating and useless exercise. One of the first reviews on Amazon was totally vicious. It rather upset me, perhaps partly because I had never encountered this before with my more academic publications. It turned out that the man who had written the very nasty review had never read the book or even skimmed it. So how do you answer something like that? Best to forget it.

However, in reading reviews today, I decided that a couple of reviewers who felt the organic issue should have had major focus were worth answering, because they had read the book and seemed sincere.

First, it is debatable whether the organic issue should even be addressed in a book on food safety. In my opinion – and I may be in the minority – it should be. Not only does eating organic food protect you against getting an overload of pesticides, but it can protect you from many other kinds of food risks as well. The book mentions these, under discussion of the relevant foods and issues. However, the organic issue is only part of the food safety picture. Eating organic food is not a cure-all. It does not protect you against bacteria, molds, parasites and non-pesticide related chemicals and metals. These are frequent problems in our food supply in industrialized countries.

Therefore, in the book, and in this blog, I have tried to look at the “organics” topic objectively – not religiously. The book does not advocate organics, although it often points out that organic foods are a safer choice. Ultimately, whether you eat organic food - most or all of the time – is ultimately a personal decision, depending on many factors, including how vulnerable you are and your budget.

The Organic Consumers Association claims that you only pay 20% more for organic food. That may occasionally be the case. But at least in my area, it is not unusual to have to pay 40-50% more for certain organic foods. That can mean a lot of money.

The book is written for everyone – not just those who are very well off.

To your good health,