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Tag Archives: pesticides

Is Organic Food Actually Better For You?

organicfoodThe typical argument against organic food is that it is more costly, yet does not provide any additional health benefits.

The argument for organic food is that, because it does not contain nearly as many pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and contaminants, organic food is both safer and more nutritious.

Which argument is correct?

One way to find out would be to use what engineers call a comparative analysis. In a proper comparative analysis, two trials are compared, where the only major variable that is different between the trials is the variable of interest. (If too many significant variables are present, they can obscure the actual results and yield misleading or erroneous conclusions.)

Many trials have already been done of organic versus commercial farming of plant-based foods. A recent study (“Nutritional, food safety benefits of organic farming documented by major study“) reviewed the results of these trials, wherein most of the trials were well-controlled to minimize variables. The conclusion was that organic foods were indeed clearly much safer and much more nutritious. “This study is telling a powerful story of how organic plant-based foods are nutritionally superior and deliver bona fide health benefits,” said Charles Benbrook, co-author.

 

 

 

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A Cup of Teavana? No Thank You

teapotAre Teavana Teas contaminated?

Yes, according to a November 2012 report by Glaucus Research (found here). Thirteen Teavana samples that Glaucus had tested by an independent testing laboratory yielded the following disturbing conclusions:

  • 100% of the tea samples contained pesticides that exceed U.S. food pesticide standards
  • The teas (with one exception) were not organic as claimed

(Please see the report for complete results.)

It should be noted that Glaucus is a “short seller” company, who was positioned to profit if Teavana stock share prices fell. However, being a short seller has no bearing on the issue raised by Glaucus: were the Teavana samples contaminated as claimed, or not?

Teavana responded to the Glaucus report by saying that each batch of their teas undergoes testing, but did not specifically dispute the Glaucus test results. Starbucks, who subsequently purchased Teavana, likewise issued no specific rebuttal of the Glaucus test findings.

So I emailed Teavana the following:

I have seen the recent report by Glaucus Research, and your response, related to pesticides in your tea products. Could you please forward to me via email attachment a copy of the most recent independent third party test results that you use to validate the purity of your teas?

During this time, Teavana was bought by Starbucks, who finally responded as follows:

Hi Ed –

Apologies for the delayed response.  Teavana’s IR website is not actively monitored since the acquisition closed and there was miscommunication in directing you there.

Starbucks has reviewed the report issued by Glaucus Research Group, a short seller that had a vested interest in lowering the value of Teavana stock.  Tea sold in Teavana stores is safe and meets Starbucks high quality standards.

Regards,
JoAnn DeGrande
vice president, Investor Relations | Starbucks Coffee Company

To which I asked Ms. DeGrande:

Thank you.
Is it possible to see a copy of the report that validated safety? These are generally provided by independent third-party testing laboratories.

To which she replied:

Your request is for non-public documents, which we do not provide.  Thank you for your interest in our companies.

To which I responded:

Well, can you provide anything that formally confirms the issue? E.g. a copy of the safety or quality standards that you meet (just their titles and issue dates), or a statement by a corporate official citing the quality/safety standards that are met; etc.? I’m sure you can appreciate the need for some sort of cited standard.
Thanks

Which was ignored.

My conclusion: Because Teavana/Starbucks did not respond directly to the specific test results presented by Glaucus, and instead only issued generalized corporate public relations statements, and because they did not produce any documents defining their quality standards or compliance with same, it appears that it is likely that the tested Teavana products were indeed contaminated. Therefore I will not consume Teavana products.

If you are a regular Teavana consumer and have had any unexplained health issues, it might be worthwhile having some samples of your Teavana teas tested by an independent lab.

Teavana/Starbucks: You are welcome to comment, plus please, no PR spin or generalities, and answer the following questions:

1. Were the Glaucus test results correct, or not? If not, why not?

2. What specific standards do you follow to ensure the quality of Teavana teas?

3. From the November 2012 time period, please provide a pdf of a certificate issued by the independent testing agency that validated the quality of Teavana teas produced during that time.

-Ed Walker

 

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