And the Chef Panel Says: Go Organic


The current issue of Time magazine focuses on the organic food debate. One segment includes the results from a blue-ribbon panel of nine New York chefs who reveal their preferences in a taste test: Farm vs. Supermarket.

Although the subtitle of the article leads you to believe that “organic and small-farm products aren’t always better,” the results indicate a definite lean toward preferring organic. In four out of seven of the tests, organic was the winner and in two of the tests it was a draw between organic and nonorganic. Even the preference for beef (grass-fed vs. grass-and-grain-fed prime steak) points toward an inclusion of grass in the cow’s diet, as opposed to a totally grain-fed piece of meat.

The two taste tests that each ended in a draw were for carrots and goat cheese. Both the Organic Bunny Love carrots and the Dole non-organic carrots were “almost exactly the same,” according to Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy.

Anne Saxelby, owner of Saxelby Cheesemongers, tasted the organic and nonorganic Farmstead goat cheeses. Her conclusion? “Cheese needs milk–and milk, like wine, needs terroir. The pasture, the cheesemaker’s prowess and the technique–that’s where you get your flavor. These two cheeses are equally delicious; there really is no difference.”

The other tests, in which organic was the winner over nonorganic, focused on white nectarines, tomatoes, pork, chicken, and eggs. (With all the violations among Iowa egg producers right now, who wouldn’t choose organic? And local!)

I was glad to see these results from the New York panel, which, by the way, also included the following chefs:

Marco Canora of Hearth

Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson of Minetta Tavern

Floyd Cardoz of Tabla

Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl

April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig

George Weld of Egg

4 responses to “And the Chef Panel Says: Go Organic

  1. I have to admit that I haven’t read the Time article. But I hope they pointed out that the issue is broader than just taste–organic is healthier for people, healthier for animals, and healthier for the land, water, and air.

    • Unfortunately, Sharazade, they don’t point out the other benefits of organic food in the piece on the chef panel. But there’s another, more comprehensive article in the magazine that covers many of those issues. It’s called, “What’s So Great About Organic Food?”.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I found the article a bit frustrating as they were sloppy with terminology (you caught it – despite the headline they didn’t compare organic steak vs. commodity steak but instead, grass-fed steak vs. grain-fed steak) and the tastings didn’t appear to be conducted on a blind basis. It was also disappointing to me to see that Creekstone is calling its beef “grass and grain-fed,” which I know from experience is confusing to people (all beef is grass-fed, the question is whether they were also fed grain, as about 95% of beef in N. America is today).

    That said, it’s nice to see that a mainstream magazine is focusing on food as it suggests a larger number of us are starting to pay attention and not just to food safety or label claims, but also flavor itself.

    • Yes, it’s encouraging to see more facets of food in the mainstream news besides just recalls. Thanks for your comment, Carrie.

      I checked out your site. I think you’re sharing very useful information so I just added your website to my blogroll!

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