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Articles by Parke Wilde

Parke Wilde is a food economist. He teaches graduate-level courses in statistics and U.S. food policy for the Friedman School at Tufts University and edits the U.S. Food Policy blog.

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A version of this post originally appeared on U.S. Food Policy.

Photo by Alternative Heat.

The journal Nature recently had an interesting meta-analysis — or quantitative literature review — about yields from organic agriculture. It’s called “Organic farming is rarely enough,” and the accompanying summary says, “Conventional agriculture gives higher yields under most situations.” This is probably true.

Yet even environmentalists are overreacting to the study. A recent article by Bryan Walsh at TIME magazine’s Ecocentric blog is titled, “Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable.”

The evidence Walsh presents fails to support the headline, though the article does begin with two good points: Organic agriculture does often produce less food per acre (see the Nature article above). And environmentalists should care about efficiency. Getting more output for lower resource cost is good environmentalism.

Mostly, though, Walsh repeats common overstatements of the advantages of conventional agriculture. He writes, “Conventional i... Read more

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