Inclusive Environmentalism

Today President Bush established a Marine National Monument, the largest single area dedicated to conservation in U.S. history the largest protected marine area in the world. We hear that Wal Mart is selling organic foods and of course the firm is experimenting with solar and wind power. GE has been working on green initiatives and we can built our homes while sustaining the environment. Our society is versatile and adaptive.

All this success creates cognitive dissonance and maybe a rift in the "environmental community."

During the 1980s, a German friend of mine studied the Green Party in his home county. His opinion was that the biggest danger to the Greens was not from industrialists who wanted to put profits before the environment. It was from the so called "values conservatives" who wanted a clean and sustainable environment in the context of free market values. Green leaders feared that these guys could mitigate and maybe solve pressing environmental problems and thereby take away the issue. The Green political agenda was leftist and favored state intervention. There were even some among them who would sacrifice the environment if it meant they could take down the capitalist system. This was a minority view, of course, but a vocal one. I perceive the same split among environmentalists in the U.S.

When Wal-Mart goes crunchy, some people will not accept it into their club. By their definition, Wal-Mart just cannot be organic. There is a valid concern here from the artistic point of view. It is the same principle that says that a piece of hand made furniture is better than one made with machines. Process counts. Or if you like, it is similar to the controversy over natural and synthetic diamonds. But surely, if you can harness the incredible power of Wal-Mart to benefit our natural environment it is a good thing.

The political side is more nefarious. Revolutionaries are often hostile to those who could improve conditions. Just as the opposite of love is indifference, not hate, as extremists their enemies are moderates, not opposing extremists. Opposing extremists are codependent. They play a kind of Kabuki. They don't want moderates to gum up the play. Organizations such as Earth First or ELF fall into this category. A certain type of person is attracted to these activities; it is just the organizations that change. In earlier times they would have been inquisitors, extreme puritans, anarchists or Marxist revolutionaries. All these guys serve something greater than themselves, something that cannot accept compromise AND something that cannot be consulted by others to learn its actual intentions. Whether it is God, anarchist ideals, the proletariat or the environment, serving them can make adherents members of a very exclusive club.

So let's hear it for moderation in most things and let's take our success where we can find it. The goal is a healthy environment, not a change of our social and economic system. The market system has been successful in everything we have asked it to do. It has given us a higher standard of living, more freedom, greater diversity and a healthier population than anyone would have thought possible. Our environment has improved a great deal since that became one of our major goals around 40 years ago. We should do better and we will … and we are. Even Wal-Mart is joining in. Puritans can exclude them from the club, but moderates should welcome the help.

Posted by Jack at June 15, 2006 11:07 PM
Comments
Comment #158277

Honestly Jack, for Wal-Mart to be taken seriously in this area, they’re going to have to become more committed to the raising of organic food standards, rather than the lowering of them — and lowering them is exactly what they intend to do with the help of their Republican friends.
Truth is, since Bush took office the USDA has been draining the meaning out of organic food standards — and this is extremely convienient for Wal-Mart, because they intend for their organic farming to basically resemble conventional farming in lots of ways, like processing, scale, mechanization, transportation, etc. You and I both know there isn’t the least chance that Wal-Mart will be buying from existing small, local organic farmers and growers, because their plans are to use the lowered standards to grow their own “organic food” in factory-farm style settings.
Where that won’t work for them, they’ll no doubt be outsourcing the growing of “organic food” to countries overseas — places which have extremely dubious standards, and have the kind of horrendous labor conditions that most organic food buyers reject, and indeed, actually go out of their way to avoid entirely.
In my opinion, Wal-Mart is “going organic” in the worst way possible, because the whole point about Organic Food is SUSTAINABILITY — the major difference in the way organic food is grown, processed, and handled. Most organic foods are grown without using pesticles, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers, and they are bought for the most part by people whose goal is to support local farmers, rather than giant corporations with giant fleets of trucks and enormous distribution centers.
Ultimately, what Wal-mart is doing will hurt the local organic growers by driving their prices and profits down, lower standards for the production of organic food, and totally undercut the all environmental benefits of true conscientious farming.
And let’s face it, this thing really is putting lipstick on pig. Wal-mart is a massive company who has contributed to sprawl, tons of air pollution, is responsible for repeatedly violating the Clean Water Act, and creating a lot of other serious environmental problems. I read not too long ago that Wal-Mart’s cover something like 75,000 acres in the US — and that they plan on doubling their footprint in the next 10 years.
BAD for the environment, Jack.
In addition to that, the damage from polluted runoff of big box retail parking lots now ranks as the largest toxic threat to America’s rivers and lakes. Not to mention the fact that Wal-mart has put so many small local stores out of business all over, people now have to drive much farther to do their shopping than they used to. Previously they were making quick trips into downtown areas, now they might have to drive ten miles to go to Wal-Mart — therefore, people are burning more fossil fuels thanks to them.
Final note: You’re constantly praising market forces, and you always seem to think that Wal-mart is so fantastic, but what you never seem to grasp is that what drives big box chains like theirs is substandard pay for labor. A Senate committee not too long ago calculated that the federal government subsidizes Wal-Mart two thousand dollars per EACH worker it hires, due to higher public costs for health care and unemployment insurance.
So Jack — to be perfectly honest, I believe we must hold Wal-Mart up for what it really is — an enormous sucking drain on America and a big environmental problem — rather than a paragon of environmentally forward-thinking capitalism and altruism.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 16, 2006 2:35 AM
Comment #158285

I see…

… so this is like that time the EPA was ordered to remove Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant so that the White House could claim “significant reductions” compared to previous years, eh?

Posted by: Aldous at June 16, 2006 4:04 AM
Comment #158287

With regards to Walmart, whatever happened to “made in America”? These are just marketing ploys, and to interpret them as meaningful is a bit absurdist to me.

I have never considered “organic” a standard. It, in fact, is such a pejorative word that it makes me feel as though any product with that label is an insult to my intelligence.

Jack, you attribute wonderful things to the free market. If you are refering to the free market of ideas, I’ll agree, but I prefer to call this social enlightenment, not economics. Free markets didn’t end slavery or war.

Posted by: gergle at June 16, 2006 5:03 AM
Comment #158291

Jack

The conservation area in Hawaii spans 1400 miles and will be a great legacy to the administration. This is great news for all of us and will help preserve over 7000 species of flora and fauna. Bravo.

Jack and Adrienne

Where I split with you (I think) and agree with Adrienne big time (see Adrienne? not in lock-step all the time!) is the issue of Wal Mart.

Beside the organic issue which Adrienne sited and I agree, I am one of the thoses republicans that think that Wal-Mart has wiped our middle American small retailers. I am aware that dividends flow to these same people who buy that stock, but money gets sucked out of local economies and destroys little towns everywhere.

These big box stores also are full of junk…over 75% of a typical Wal-Mart is full of cheap Chinese imports further hurting the trade deficit. While I am against regulating these stores, I can certainly vote with my wallet, which is what I do. I never shop there.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at June 16, 2006 6:07 AM
Comment #158293

Actually, Free Markets compounded child abuse and worker abuses.

I suggest you read the rise of the unions to see it.

Posted by: Aldous at June 16, 2006 6:41 AM
Comment #158296

gergle,

“I have never considered “organic” a standard. It, in fact, is such a pejorative word that it makes me feel as though any product with that label is an insult to my intelligence.”

There are grocery stores that actually take the label “organic” seriously, and don’t just use it as a marketing tool.
My local market sells only healthful products and eschews the crap, super processed, “toy” food, supplied by large conglomerates.
Also, I still eat meat and the meat at my local “organic” market is some of the best I have ever tasted, I am assured by the fact it actually is “free range”, and that it doesn’t contain the hormones commonly found in products from mass producing purveyors.

This WalMart thing is a red herring, a marketing ploy to screw the American public out of yet more money, and to drive the small markets out of business.

Posted by: Rocky at June 16, 2006 7:23 AM
Comment #158297

Walmart aside, many large corporations do make environmental advances. If they are truly making an advance and not pushing to lower the bar for everyone, the vast majority of environmentalists do support them.
Where we disagree is that you think this would still happen based purely on profit decisions and the free market. When businesses are allowed to discount the true costs of their product, including the costs to our planet and human health, the business case for the Research and Development never seems to get approved. When there is a regulation, it suddenly becomes feasible and we tackle it.

Christine

Posted by: Christine at June 16, 2006 7:23 AM
Comment #158298

Adrienne

You hit the big nail on the head. If a firm produced organic in the sense of being grown w/o unnatural chemicals and in an environmentally friendly manner, but did so in a commercial way, would it still be a good thing? Or is organic less of an environmental movement and more of a social or artistic one?

BTW - you know I chose Wal-Mart for the contrasts. If I would have stuck to GE or IBM, it would have been less clear.

Gergle

Free markets did not end war, but they were necessary (although not sufficient) to ending slavery. Slavery existed in every organized society in human history and hardly anybody thought it was a universally bad idea (they merely hoped to mitigate its effects or avoid becoming slaves themselves) until just after the free market system started to emerge in the middle 1700s.

I think it is significant that slavery is still practiced in parts of Africa and Asia where the free market still has not properly penetrated.

Aldous

Before the free market and places where it currently has not reached, there really is no concept of childhood at all. Children are little workers from the time they can work and in hunter gathering societies they are little warriors. We look back on pre industrial village life through a fog. When you study it closely, you find that most people were miserable most of the time. It is just that they got used to living (by our standards) nasty, brutal and short lives.

The free market “complex”, which includes rule of law, democratic principles and market mechanisms, is a wonderful system. In theory, it is not the best, but in practice it is the clear winner.

But I think the question is whether or not mainstream firms will ever be accepted as green no matter how clean and green are their products?

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 7:44 AM
Comment #158301

Let’s not make the mistake of believing that just because Bush does some green things, that everything he does is green. One can have loose environmental standards in one place, and environmentally positive activities going on elsewhere.

The picture must be good overall, because there’s no point to being halfway environmental, even if you’re being moderate.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 16, 2006 8:12 AM
Comment #158308

Stephen makes a valid point. The President’s action for the Marine area is to be applauded. Regardless of the fact that the there are is no oil or gas lying below this highly volatile volcanic area.

ANWR stands in stark contrast to Bush’s convenient declaration of protected habitat in Hawaii. If it is a choice between corporate interest and environment, Bush falls on the side of corporate interest. ANWR makes this abundantly clear.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 16, 2006 8:28 AM
Comment #158309

Wal-Mart will do anything to try to improve its tarnished image. Latest reports have Wal-Mart’s consumers dropping away in the U.S. while other retailers are gaining market share.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 16, 2006 8:30 AM
Comment #158310

GE’s motto has always been “Better Living”. GE is advancing its “green” agenda because hard fighting environmentalists have altered market perception and increased demand for environmentally sound practices. GE did not lead the way. GE is following the consumer awareness demands created by so called “leftie” environmentalists. Which is good!

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 16, 2006 8:33 AM
Comment #158312

Those who purchase organic foods tend not to shop at walmart, at least all my tree hugging hippie friends. It sort of goes against the integrity of what your trying to accomplish. Plus walmart has to ship their food across teh country, spending tons of money in fuel, and causing (cough cough) pollution, so walmart still isn’t cool. if they switched their fleets to electric cars and purchased local foods— i would start to reevaluate my walmart disdain. they still kill local economies and export money from communities— so they still suck.

I live in the upstate NY area, near the very hudson that GE has contaminated with massive ammounts of PCB’s. There is an ongoing initiative to try and get them to dredge the bottom of the river (which i am not so sure is a great idea in an of itself, stirring up those contaminants that are dormant and allowing them to flow downstream…). So when i see those BS commercials of elephants dancing in the rainforest by GE i am disgusted that we allow them to pontificate about environmental responsibility when they have been so busy destroying it for so long… i need to SEE the effort in practice, not just in smarmy commercials.

It is a start to have a dialogue about it, but i need to see results.

BTW, I am proud of George Bush’s marine park, he scores points for that. AWR however, needs to be left alone. We have the greatest scientific minds in the world, lets get off our oil fix!!!

Posted by: tree hugger at June 16, 2006 9:11 AM
Comment #158315

“So let’s hear it for moderation in most things and let’s take our success where we can find it. The goal is a healthy environment, not a change of our social and economic system.”

The goal is a healthy environment Jack, I agree. However, we have a unhealthy environment because of our social and economic system. So, I would imagine we need a drastic change in our social system, and economic systems.

We have an economic system that has led us to become economic leaders in a relatively short amount of time, but times are changing and we need to look at a new system.

I have heard it said that democracy is the worst form of government, but its the best one weve got.

I think the same could be said of capitalism.

What I feel we need is a social change in the way people see their environment, their work, their food, their fellow Americans, and the rest of the world.

You know there have been famous people who create these changes. Most of the time there achievements arent recognised until much later.

I dont think we have time for moderation Jack. I could be pessimistic, but I have to believe that the Earth can’t take much more of this.

Posted by: stopculture at June 16, 2006 9:36 AM
Comment #158316

wallmart taking the fun out of organic food elitism

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=060606C

Posted by: pearls before swine at June 16, 2006 9:37 AM
Comment #158329

Stopculture,

The full quote is something like “Democracy is the worst form of government we have, except for all the other ones”

Posted by: Dave at June 16, 2006 10:52 AM
Comment #158330

pearls,

This is a real question; What did you understand to be the point of the article you linked to?

Posted by: Dave at June 16, 2006 10:57 AM
Comment #158337

David

It is not for GE or any firm to lead the way. They respond to the desires of consumers. That is their strength. The market is a means, not an end. IF consumers really want green products, the market will provide them.

Tree

Most people will be unwilling to give up the healthy lifestyles in order to be truly local organic. Consumers in North America have learned to like pineapples, mangos and oranges. They like to have fresh vegetables all year around. Local produce is good during the local harvest season. They use to have descriptions for the other times usually involving words like starve and lean. So we will continue to ship foods long distances, whether Wal-Mart does it or not. IF Wal-Mart sells products grown by green methods, does that make them green?

Stopculture

Let us not mistake change in society for a change in our social system. The things I mentioned above represent significant change in society. When we have our biggest firms working on ways to make their products more environmentally friendly, it is a positive social change. Please see the note below under Pearls

Pearls

Good article. The part that applies to us is “Remember, now, at the moment most people simply cannot afford “organic” food. They’re consuming food that’s been sprayed with pesticides and prepared with preservatives to give it a long shelf life. And whatever cost to the environment that comes from these practices is already being borne.”

It may take a Wal-Mart organizing ability to get MOST people to eat organic foods. That is better than SOME people doing it and feeling smug.

Dave

I think the point of the article is that you do not have an ideal choice. Under the current system, organic agriculture is not efficient enough to supply more than few people with expensive food. It it could be made more efficient, lots of people could eat organic food, but it would lose some of its exclusive appeal.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 11:21 AM
Comment #158346

I dont get it…call me stupid. What is our social system?

I was trying to get at: we have terrible things (obesity, deteriorating environment, killing sprees, etc) which i think stem from our social system.

How can we say lets try to do something about obesity, without changing our social system?

Now we eat high fat processed food, we drive too much and walk too little. We gain weight and we get heart disease and diabetes.
Not changing the system will result in short term fixes that lead to bigger problems IMO.

Perhaps you mean social change will change the system? For example, awareness of obesity related disease leads to customers changing dieting habits, therefor changing the system.

Or, do you think that a change in dieting habits can solve obesity and allow the current system to remain intact?

Posted by: stopculture at June 16, 2006 11:43 AM
Comment #158352

Stop

Obesity is a social problem. But it is also one under the control of individuals. Fat people eat too much and exercise too little. I am not sure which side of the exercise/eating equation is most important. There are lots of causes, some very indirect. Think of a good thing - making buildings handicapped accessible. That means parking near the doors and elevators. A generation ago in the U.S. if you went to a building with four floors, you probably walked up those flights of stairs. You still do in most of Europe. In the U.S. you find people waiting for the elevator. Sometimes you cannot even take the stairs because they are locked or inaccessible.

Not everyone is fat, which indicates you don’t have to be even in our social system. Obesity is voluntary. But what would you do about it? Fast food places try to sell and promote healthier foods. They are usually taken off the menu in a few years because people don’t buy them.

If I had my way, parking lots would be ½ mile from the stores; elevators would be available only for those going more than eight flights up; portions would be smaller; gym class would be required in HS and college and it would be the real thing, not a self esteem fest or a relaxation course and of course I would bring back dodgeball. Do you want my system?

What changes do you think we can really make if people won’t accept them?

Once again, however, we are talking about definition. I support a free market system with choices. I believe the fat boys should exercise more and complain less about big bones. If we can encourage them to do right, it is part of the system, not changing it.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #158354

Jack said: “IF consumers really want green products, the market will provide them.”

That is where government regulation needs to step in, when the health of the nation or society is in jeopardy and corporations won’t lead the way.

BTW, can I sue BP then for their ads saying they are leading the way to a greener future? According to you, that is patently false advertising, since you say, “It is not for GE or any firm to lead the way. They respond to the desires of consumers.”

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 16, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #158355

I saw an interesting show on CNBC recently that profiled Whole Foods and its founder. One of the main criticisms of Whole Foods is that it is so expensive, critics have labelled it “Whole Paycheck”. But the store has taken huge steps in making true organic, locally grown when possible, produce and meats available in all major American markets. The statistic that I found interesting was this: the average American family spends roughly 7% of their disposable income on groceries. The average Whole Foods shopper spends roughly 9%, so definitely more expensive. However, in developed countries outside the US, where organic and additive free foods have long been more popular, shoppers are willing to spend 13-18%. So, it is definitely the market that is deciding, and the American market has decided in large part that non-organic is OK with them.

As to the “exclusivity” of organic food, I don’t buy it. That difference in price is not enough to keep people from buying organic if they want to. It may be enough for them to justify buying an inferior product, or for business to try and find a way to water down what is organic so it becomes mass-produceable. That’s the real danger, allowing inferior products to be albelled organic so the mega-farms and Wal-Mart can tap into the market, or just mark-up the $.99 iceberg lettuce to $1.29 because of the fancy new sticker on the same old product. That’s big businees taking advantage of its influence and the consumer’s trust in them, both misplaced.

I recently switched from regular supermarket shopping to all-organic, mostly because in L.A. there is not a huge price difference. It is still more expensive, but so I buy one less CD or see one less movie a month. Its worth it in my mind. Free market, free choice. What a wonderful system.

Posted by: David S at June 16, 2006 12:04 PM
Comment #158361

BTW

I blame Pepsi for some obesity. Here’s why. Back in the 1970s, Coke beat Pepsi hands down because of the unique shape of its bottle. Much of Cola is in presentation, and Cokes elegant hourglass bottle just beat the pants off Pepsi. So Pepsi shifted the paradigm.

It costs almost nothing to make soda and the cost of a few additional ounces is practically zero. Pepsi management knew that and they also knew that the hourglass bottle could not be scaled up very far. Curves are not attractive beyond a certain size, as we all know. We all have seen our share of fat people as this thread suggests.

So they offered bigger amounts of soda in bigger bottles w/o much cost increase. Coke had to follow with bigger bottles and those beautiful two liter bottles were born. Coke’s advantage was negated.

Now you might worry that people would just buy less often. Not to worry. People eat or drink about as much as they have. It is the principle of unit gluttony. You will drink 12oz if that is what you have or 24oz. The same is true of candy bars etc. Unit gluttony. Others saw how this worked and packages got bigger. People still ate the whole thing; they still cleaned their plates.

Of course, the other cause of obesity is the easy life. Very few jobs require much physical labor anymore. Truck drivers used to have forearms like Popeye the Sailor because they had to wrestle the wheel of the big rigs. Now power steering makes it possible for any wimp to drive truck. The same has happened in construction and many types of material handling.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 12:12 PM
Comment #158362

I agree that obesity is a personal issue, but the government should not make it more difficult on people who are trying to eat healthily by stripping out the meaning of labels like “organic”, just so companies like Wal-Mart can capitalize on a trend.

Posted by: David S at June 16, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #158363

I dont get how you can say obesity is a choice, then blame obesity on Pepsi.

Personally, I don’t think that obesity is a choice. I think being healthy is a choice. No one says they want to be fat. In todays society it happens as a result of our lifestyle. However, people do say I want to be healthy. They begin to make decisions to maintain a healthy weight.

Personally Jack I do want your system. In fact we need that system. That i see is this whole problem, our society and our government allow bad systems to remain in place, and good systems to be ingored. I feel that it is because we are lazy. And i feel that we will only become lazier.

Posted by: stopculture at June 16, 2006 12:28 PM
Comment #158365

Jack,

We have the basics of an agreement. The way I read the article was that it was a discussion of Michael Pollans article and that the TCS author believes in the tenets of organic agriculture, i.e. sustainable pricing of environmentally resposible argriculture. But, currently those prices are not in the common mans reach. He’s not for compromising the definition of “organic” for commercial purposes but does recognize there are compromises that need to be made between “ideal” and “practical”.
Nowhere did I see that he felt “organic” was elitist. He only stated that many (the educated troll word is plebeian) of the masses feel that way (because it is in fact expensive and therefore only the “monied elite” can afford it).
What amazes me is that you imply that people eat organic food because of the fact it is expensive. You seem to have very mixed feelings about wealth. On one side you blame market controls and taxes for unfair treatment of the wealthy but at the same time you deride people with money for buying expensive foods.

BTW; your personal dependence on physical labor is only a detraction from big businesses need for productivity. Machines are not the cause of obesity, the big cause is high fructose corn sugar.

Posted by: Dave at June 16, 2006 12:35 PM
Comment #158381

Now don’t get offended; this is not a slur about attending a liberal think tank called college.

so will some college boy/girl tell me how murdering a baby in the womb is ok but destroying a spotted owl’s egg is murdering a spotted owl and endangering an entire species?

How can murdering a baby be part of our constitutional right to privacy?

How is murdering a baby a right to privacy more than murdering your neighbor in your home a right to privacy?

Posted by: lm at June 16, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #158387

Wal-Mart will do anything to try to improve its tarnished image. Latest reports have Wal-Mart’s consumers dropping away in the U.S. while other retailers are gaining market share.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 16, 2006 08:30
AM


But aren’t those retailers the likes Target, K Mart, and Kohls? None of who are any better than Wal-Mart. And might be even worse.
If it was local retailers then it would be good news.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 16, 2006 2:01 PM
Comment #158388

Rocky:
“There are grocery stores that actually take the label “organic” seriously, and don’t just use it as a marketing tool.
My local market sells only healthful products and eschews the crap, super processed, “toy” food, supplied by large conglomerates.”

Me too, and I totally agree. It’s the particular store that makes all the difference. The thing I do is talk to the owners and employees — if these people can’t answer simple questions about the products they sell, then they probably aren’t taking the idea behind “healthfood” or “organic” very seriously.

“Also, I still eat meat and the meat at my local “organic” market is some of the best I have ever tasted, I am assured by the fact it actually is “free range”, and that it doesn’t contain the hormones commonly found in products from mass producing purveyors.”

It’s true, it’s so much more delicious — like night and day actually. I don’t eat much meat at all, but when I do, it’s free range chicken and turkey — the real thing, (not a little door in the factory where it’s possible they’ll be able to take a little stroll), and grass fed beef (not corn-fed, because cows don’t naturally eat corn, they’re forced to eat it) and none of what I buy has been is pumped full of antibiotics. Those animals don’t need that, because they’re naturally healthy.

“This WalMart thing is a red herring, a marketing ploy to screw the American public out of yet more money, and to drive the small markets out of business.”

Spot on. Wal-Mart is going hurt the small farmers and healthfood businesses with this. Their business model always ends up hurting America in some way — they don’t know how to do anything else.

Jack
“If a firm produced organic in the sense of being grown w/o unnatural chemicals and in an environmentally friendly manner, but did so in a commercial way, would it still be a good thing?”

Not if they do it they way that Wal-Mart is going to. Because they don’t give a hoot about sustainability. They aren’t going to use locally grown food, and they’re going to have huge processing and distribution centers and fleets of trucks to move their version of “organic”. And of course their motive didn’t have anything to do with sustainablilty, it has to do with marketability, trendiness, and gimickry. The way I see it, it’s the antithesis of fresh, healthy, and environmentally conscious.

“Or is organic less of an environmental movement and more of a social or artistic one?”

It’s all of the above. It’s about good healthy and tasty food which is grown in a way that is good for the environment. It’s about community in the sense of people supporting their local farmers, growers and ranchers — and going to the farmers markets to meet these folks in person. It’s sometimes about producing something very artistic, special and rare. And it is very often about preservation, in the sense that unique and special heirloom seeds are being collected and grown — rather than letting the natural diversity found in nature be wiped away by growing only what is most disease and/or insect resistant.
Ever eat a tomato or a melon that has been grown from heirloom seeds? If you haven’t, you should. In the quest for disease and insect resistance the special flavor often goes missing. Personally I’d rather cut off a blemish, or dig out a worm or a bug and eat the rest of something that tastes extra good, than buy perfect looking stuff that is tasteless and bland.

David, good point about ANWR.
Sic Eagle, nice that we can finally agree on something!

Posted by: Adrienne at June 16, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #158391

Jack-
I think Ron Brown brought up a good point. If we don’t change the system, then consumers fed up with a “bad” company will choose an alternative they know even less about which may be worse than the one they are protesting.

Can we have a economic system whose focus is quality not quantity? I don’t know.

Posted by: stopculture at June 16, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #158398

IM…

This is an easy one:

YOU can decide whether to use your body, time, energy, etc. to produce a child or to not produce a child. It is YOUR responsability for 18 years, so YOU get to make the choice. I don’t care if you call it murder or not, because I call it control.

YOU cannot decide for someone else…even Mrs. Spotted Owl. OK? You worry about you, and let others worry about themselves. Leave gov’t out of it unless there is some glaring need. The Owls needed our help to protect them from US. So we protect them. Simple.

Posted by: Kevin23 at June 16, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #158407

Not sure how lm was able to tie abortion into organic produce. Willing to bet they’re a single-issue voter, though.

Two interesting stories related to today’s topic:

Wal-Mart is cheap (not in the good way).

People are too lazy, but we’ve made it harder not to be.

Posted by: David S at June 16, 2006 3:12 PM
Comment #158412

Stop

I don’t REALLY blame Pepsi. It is just a story of a paradigm shift and how small changes in seemingly unrelated fields can create big changes all around. It is one reason I am not enthusiastic about too much central planning. No planner could understand all the complexity of the interrelationships.

For an example of a positive paradigm shift, look to the Nike waffle trainer. Before they came out, only young athletes and/or weirdos ran unless someone was chasing them. You really could not run because if you did it much in ordinary sneakers, you soon were incapacitated. When shoes came out that didn’t break your ankles, people started to run. I started back then and have continued ever since w/o destroying my bones (yet).

re “my: system - If you want my system, it would be two of us in the party. Of course, you probably have not read my advocacy of higher prices for gasoline.

Dave

I do have mixed feelings about wealth. I kind of like to have money. Most people do. But money corrupts most people. Being poor sucks and should be avoided. Being rich is bad if you did not earn it yourself. On the other hand, government attempts to equalize outcomes usually end up in making almost everyone poorer and some of them (as in communism) dead. Yes I have mixed feelings and after fifty years they are as mixed as ever.

I know the story about corn syrup. It makes little sense to me. Fat is an equation. Take in more than you burn and you get fat. It is amazing how sedentary our lives have become. Think of yard work or housework and how those simple things have changed. In my first job, we lifted 94lb cement bags for 12 hours a day. Now the bags are half that heavy and people don’t actually lift them at all. They kind of shove them onto a conveyer belt.

It is true that food is too easily available. People at malls eat literally all the time. Fat people are aesthetically offensive but the solution in literally in their stubby fingers. They should just say no.

Adrienne

You live in California, where you presumably can get locally grown oranges, grapefruit etc. Unless all of us who live in less blessed climates move in with you, we will not be able to get the foods we like (and make us healthy) locally. When people lived only on locally grown foods they were often unhealthy. Kids used to die in the springtime because they had not eaten decent vegetables or fruit over the winter.

I like pineapples, watermelons, oranges and grapefruit. It might be possible for me to get ones that are organically grown, but I will never get a local product.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 3:22 PM
Comment #158418
It is a sharp departure for an Administration that has campaigned to privatise some federal lands and designated less wilderness than most presidents over the past 40 years. A turning point came in April, when Mr Bush sat through a White House screening of Voyage to Kure, a documentary that unveiled the beauty of, and perils facing, the archipelago.

The film caught Mr Bush’s imagination, say US officials. The President jumped up after the screening, congratulated the maker of the documentary, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and urged White House staff to get moving on protecting the archipelago’s waters.

Someone get this guy to watch “An inconvenient truth” quick! Quick, somebody sit this guy down in front a news broadcast showing what’s happening in Iraq!

Posted by: Max at June 16, 2006 3:28 PM
Comment #158425

Jack,

What part of this don’t you understand? Food doesn’t have to cost more in gas energy than it takes to grow it. YOU, PERSONALLY, can choose to do the responsible thing and buy LOCAL food to help cut down on the GAS this country uses flying food from Japan and Australia to your supermarket.

IF, in addition, you don’t like the idea of poisons being thrown into ground, buy Organic as well.

Congratulations to WalMart. A big supplier like them offering food that’s been grown without pesticides is a big boon. Now cut down on your gas consumption and buy local. Eat a steak from a cow that roamed pastures and ate the food nature intended, grass, not corn. Pay a few dollars more - it’s not elitist when people pay a few bucks more for any other brand. In this case, it’s sensible, humane, better for the world, what’s wrong with that?

Posted by: Max at June 16, 2006 3:40 PM
Comment #158431

Something that is interesting to note here is that America is the only country where the wealthy are less likely to be overweight than the poor. The things people will choose to put in their bodies in this country to save a buck, from fast food to microwave dinners to horrible, chemical laden garbage is an American phenomenon. Further, only in America is it considered an accomplishment to polish off a massive steak or pizza in one sitting, get your picture on the wall, name a sandwich after you, whatever.

Posted by: David S at June 16, 2006 3:58 PM
Comment #158432

Most people who are into organic produce are usually healthy people understanding of many things.

your body is not your own. How can you say we protect the owl from us and then abandon a helpless baby. when is a baby a baby and an owl an owl? seems you people get all out of whack with My Body this and you mind your business. well I like owl eggs and ham so you mind your business and I’ll mind mine.

sounds dumb as H@#$ don’t it. Sounds like the liberwackery bs to me.

but you all will know the truth someday.

now back to walmart and the evils of capitalism.

Posted by: lm at June 16, 2006 4:04 PM
Comment #158438

Jack,
The problem with the corn syrup (HFCS) is that it adds empty calories and doesn’t reduce appetite. Some studies show it actually supresses your “full” response. Exersize all you want but if you take in too much HFCS, you’ll be fat fast. At some time, the gov’t has to step in and remove uncontrollably negative influences.
An example: My son is highly athletic at 9yo. During the summer he was at camp and his appetite included products with HFCS (my bad) and we estimated his intake at close to 3kCal. He didn’t gain an ounce until school started and activities reduced but his diet was the same. He gained about 5 pounds in 1 month. He bitched and moaned that he was always hungry before and after we cut his food back. When we caught on and cut out the HFCS, he went back to normal weight, normal appetite, without complaint.

Max,

The film caught Mr Bush’s imagination, say US officials. The President jumped up after the screening, congratulated the maker of the documentary, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and urged White House staff to get moving on protecting the archipelago’s waters
What a great way to set national policy, watch a freakin’ movie! Next he’ll watch Hunt for Red October and start a program to develop submarines with “caterpiller” engines. Maybe he should watch the Manchurian Candidate and his hypnotic state may wear off (hey, it’s as good a reason as any for his war and tax cuts).

(sorry Max, I had to join in on that one)

Posted by: Dave at June 16, 2006 4:10 PM
Comment #158442

What is humanity’s first and foremost cure for what ails you? Eat something! What is the biggest by product when agrarian societies grow into industrial and interdependent technological societies? Stress! Stress is an ailment in non-fight or flight situations. And pervasive ongoing stress leads to pervasive and ongoing eating as the fastest and shortest route to reducing stress. Especially when the PR marketing advertising firms put their minds to the problem of how to get consumers to consume more whether they want to or not. When food is everywhere, on the radio, on TV, on every block of an urban environment, on every box and container in the Kitchen, what is one to do when confronting stress? EAT till your dead from obesity.

As for the wealthy. That’s simple. They have less stress. Money buys a lot of help to assume the stress for you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 16, 2006 4:15 PM
Comment #158449

Dave you’re right, corn syrup makes people fat. People who don’t want fat kids shouldn’t let them drink soda — make them drink juice instead. If that is too expensive for you to have them drink all the time, you can mix juice with club soda or sparkling water. Transfats are another problem. Hydrogenated oils give people heart disease. Look for products that say 0% transfat, or buy your food at the healthfood store, where almost all of the products are free of that gunk.

Jack, you’re wrong. There are organic food co-ops all over this country that people can join. They just have to go looking for them.
Here’s just one I found in a seconds worth of Google search: Grow Alabama
Oh and FYI, there are local organic farmers all over the place growing tropical fruits in their greenhouses.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 16, 2006 4:27 PM
Comment #158461

Jack-
Remember your body is a temple. You decide what goes in it. Going organic is actually getting easier. Farmers see that consumers are willing to offset greater crop spoilage with higher prices.

Wal Mart is an abomination. They exist because a significant percentage of the population wants CHEAP consumer goods,regardless of how they are obtained. It condones child labor,unfair labor practices and methodically crushes small independent business whenever it can.

If Wal-Mart is going green,I feel sorry for the farmers. There is little doubt that they will try to collectivize farmers into yet another slave labour situation. The fact that people only seem to care about saving a few bucks on a lawn set is really chilling.

You speak of moderation,its a good philosophy. Wal-Mart is the antithesis of this in that, like an octopus, it seems to want to grab it all.

Posted by: jblym at June 16, 2006 5:01 PM
Comment #158474

Max

My local area cannot support my needs. Nowhere within several hundred miles can grow pineapples, oranges etc. There are also relative advantages. In places where grass grows better, it is easier to raise cattle. Particular fruits have their prime zones. There is not much point in trying to be locally diverse and growing every product.

You also have to remember the costs of transport are sometimes not so dependent on distance as they are on roads, rivers or oceans. It might be less expensive (in energy as well as money) to bring a load a vegetables across and ocean in a big container than to ship a couple hundred miles in a fleet of little trucks.

David

The poor are also less likely to exercise and do other healthy things. They generally make poor choices, which is one reason they are poor. The poor being fatter than the rich is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. In the past, the poor didn’t have enough to eat. Now they do. The other odd fact of the U.S. is that the rich work more hours than the poor. Increasingly the poor are idle and well fed.

Dave

Corn syrup is a sweetener like sugar. You are right that it doesn’t fill you up. I would keep away from sugars like that. I used to drink 2-4 liters of Coca Cola every day. A couple years ago I decided to cut it out and now I drink 2-4 liters of diet Coke. BTW - the sugar cola did me no harm for 30 years and the diet cola doesn’t seem to be a problem either.

The corn syrup itself is not the problem. It is the total calorie intake.

Adrienne

I don’t want to eat greenhouse grown fruit and it doesn’t save energy to do it.

Down in Brazil, bananas grow all over the place w/o much encouragement. You can pick a bunch of green bananas and put them on a boat. By the time they reach the supermarket in American they are ready to eat. Growing in a green house is expensive (in energy). You have to build the greenhouse, control all aspects of the soil and heat the place in the winter. You CAN grow bananas in North Dakota. It does not mean you should. It is just the nature of life that some things grow better in different places. That is why you grow wheat in N. Dakota and oranges in Florida. BTW - you cannot grow wheat or potatoes effectively in tropical climates. I guess they would have to have an air conditioned greenhouse in those place - a really big one for the wheat.

I think you should go local when you can, but local is not always the best choice for you or the environment.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 5:54 PM
Comment #158488

I’m all for instituting some sort of criminal liability for parents who raise morbidly obese kids. They should at the very least allow insurance companies to make an exception in their policies for self-inflicted problems.

Also, charge a person’s estate for all the medical charges they ran up trying to stay alive for one more week in their last year of life. These costs account for a rediculous percentage. That’ll help medical insurance to go down, AND make people actually think about what their doing.

The only way people care about anything is if you hit them where it hurts…the pocket-book. The same reason they shop at Walmart. I say let them decide: pay for cheaper crap food now and foot the medical bill later, or eat better now and have insurance there to do what it is intended to do…provide a safety net in case of an ACCIDENT or act out of your complete control. Car insurers don’t pay if you hit someone intentionally. Its just common sense.

IM, I don’t know where you are coming from. If I follow your logic to the end, then I’m left with 3 million murders on my bedsheets every time I sleep with my wife. Equating the thoughts of a murderer to the thought process of a pregnant 14 year old having an abortion is just wacky.

Posted by: Kevin23 at June 16, 2006 6:18 PM
Comment #158500

Jack-
I like high gas prices too.

I also like this quote from unknown

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

You know I read a book “The Wellness Revolution” by Paul Zane Pilzer recently that said something to the effect that because all things are governed by certian laws ( humanity, economics, phsyics) it often looks like there is some kind of conspiracy going on. For example when a company alters or puts in chemicals into their food that makes their food taste better, the person gets fat and then with increased weight they need more calories. On top of that it just so happens that this chemical makes the body crave only this product. Conspiracy? No unintended consequece that just happens to benefit Lays Potato chips. Betcha can’t eat just one!

Also Jack if people said sorry you cant have any more watermelons because the fuel it takes is a waste, so stick to your local produce, you would have a fit. Capitalism has given us are every desire, but at the cost of the worlds environment. We must give up some of these luxuries. But I say we won’t until its too late.

The problem with no regulation is that people actively fight against good and necessary ideas for personal gain. While given an infinite time line i am sure market forces would solve our ever problem. But what if we have 50 years? What if we have 200? Those are small numbers Jack.

Posted by: stopculture at June 16, 2006 6:41 PM
Comment #158505

Jack,

“The part that applies to us is ⒥member, now, at the moment most people simply cannot afford “organic” food.”

Can people afford the problems that the pesticides and other chemicals that are in non-organic food that may come back to haunt us later in life?

Pennies now or dollars later?

We really don’t know the long term effects of all the crap that is in and on the food we eat.

Posted by: Rocky at June 16, 2006 6:52 PM
Comment #158509

Thawing Permafrost could Supercharge Warming

Maybe just a little off topic based on all the previous posts, but it is environmental.

Posted by: womanmarine at June 16, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #158519

That Quote,” the road to hell is paved with good Intentions” was quoted By the great english Literary Figure, DR Samuel Johnson. I think, “THE ROAD TO ” was added later. Dr Johnson is buried at Westminster Abbey. Quite a Engineering feat by itself, the abbey that is.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 16, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #158527

Stop

Most people cannot live off the produce of their local area. And I have to say that I am not committed to local agriculture as you are. There are many paradoxes to trade and agriculture. In some places you might be able to easily grow 100 bushels of wheat, but only one bushel of apples. In another place, you might be able to produce 100 bushels of apples but one bushel of wheat. Nature is like that. Capacities are unevenly distributed. It is very foolish and bad for the environment to try to produce everything in any arbitrary local area.

There was an interesting case of flower production in Kenya. You can produce flowers in Kenya and ship them to market in Holland on a 747 and still use less total energy than you would growing those same flowers in Dutch greenhouses.

You can argue that people don’t need flowers in winter or that they should live at a lower level, but that is probably not necessary.

I do not think such a localized society would be a good thing anyway. Many people would just die off. We cannot feed the current world population with localized agriculture.

Rocky

I like the idea of some organic because I think it is inexpensive and environmentally friendly, but some pesticides and herbicides are useful and not harmful. I don’t think organic is necessarily more healthy for the consumer. If it was only for my health, I probably would never buy organic. I also don’t think 100% organic is necessary for the environment.

Chemicals are tools that can be used well or badly. If the choice is between inundation by an invasive species such as kudzu or tree of heaven and a herbicide, the herbicide is the better choice. Moderation in all things.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 8:50 PM
Comment #158534

Jack,

My local area cannot support my needs. Nowhere within several hundred miles can grow pineapples, oranges etc. There are also relative advantages. In places where grass grows better, it is easier to raise cattle. Particular fruits have their prime zones. There is not much point in trying to be locally diverse and growing every product.

You also have to remember the costs of transport are sometimes not so dependent on distance as they are on roads, rivers or oceans. It might be less expensive (in energy as well as money) to bring a load a vegetables across and ocean in a big container than to ship a couple hundred miles in a fleet of little trucks.

Search for a CSA:

http://www.localharvest.org/
http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/

Have you considered what you CAN eat locally?

Posted by: Max at June 16, 2006 9:18 PM
Comment #158535

Jack,

Don’t pooh pooh the links I posted. Try em. If you eat grass fed beef from a farmers market or CSA, you’ll be thanking me for the best steak you ever tasted. There’s nothing anti-Republican about enjoying a nice yummy steak. The other food is better tasting too, because it’s fresher. I think your plane comment is a little ridiculous, though, honestly the best thing you can do for the environment is live in a city. That way you’re not driving, and the food doesn’t drive as much to get to a lot of people.

Posted by: Max at June 16, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #158544

Max

I could eat local fruits and produce as an individual if I didn’t want to eat tropical fruits or out of season produce, but the other millions of people would be out of luck.

I also like to eat bread and grain products. They don’t grow enough of that around here.

I will tell you plain, I am not very enthusiastic about eating locally. It is not a value for me and it really is not very important. The locally produced stuff is not always the most energy efficient and I think that kind of local focus is retrograde.

I eat lots of fresh produce because I like it but it rarely is organic. I didn’t really eat much fresh produce until I turned 40. Until that time, my idea of fresh was recently out of the package and my idea of fruit juice was Cherry Coke. It certainly did not hurt me. The health aspect of organic is much exaggerated.

I think you can make an argument that we should use chemicals carefully, but at least for me the individual health aspects are meaningless.


Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #158547

BTW

Grass fed steak can taste very good. I lived in S. Brazil and really liked the range fed beef. But the best steak I ever had was at the Big Texan in Amarillo Texas. I don’t know what they fed that animal, but it was good.

BTW (2)

The best ham comes from pigs who eat garbage and scraps. I don’t think American health regulations allow that. but I suppose a small time organic farmer could get away with it.

BTW (3)

The best venison comes from deer that live among farm fields. They are “corn fed”. The ones that eat natural foods in the deep woods are gamey.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #158550

Jack,

“I will tell you plain, I am not very enthusiastic about eating locally.”

Please don’t take offence if I call you a hypocrite.

This is from your “Load of manure” article you posted only last Monday.

“Who would have thought manure could make a farm at toxic waste superfund site? Next time you see a cow or horse, be afraid, be very afraid.”

So you’re worried that the small local farmers may have problems if they use manure to fertilize, but you are unwilling to support them by buying their products?

It is the “corporate” farms that profit from the crap that is sold as produce in today’s supermarkets. The same corporations that have bought up most of the family farms that started going bankrupt in the eighties.

Well, buying “organic” is supporting those same local farmers you were worried about.

Excuse me if I buy organic and do my part.

Posted by: Rocky at June 16, 2006 10:08 PM
Comment #158553

Jack,

And oh BTW.

Cattle are herbivores, grass fed beef means there is no “animal protein” in their feed.

Excuse me if I wonder if this may help stop “Mad Cow” disease.

Posted by: Rocky at June 16, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #158562

Rocky

Local farmers cannot produce all the types of food or the quantity of foods we need. I would hope you might buy a Virginia ham and I could get an pummelo grapefruit from your great state. Why should local people get to (have to) eat all the local stuff? Even the people of vidalia would get sick of onions.

Also, I would be unhappy if I the market for my timber was only things being built locally. Southern forests supply 58% of all the U.S. timber production (and 15.8% of the world’s.) I don’t think the south consumes 58% of all American wood, not to mention the world.

Since they discovered mad cow disease, how many people have died?

I like it that cows eat grass, but I don’t think we can produce enough beef on only grass.

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 10:51 PM
Comment #158563

A Cow or Beef Cattle, is designed by nature to eat Grasses ,or hay. the teeth are designed for grass and so is the digestive system. (Cud Chewers) talk about Gas! on our family farm in upstate new york. we raise Holstein cows for milk, A female holstein will go about 1300-1400 lbs. BIG. now a male holstein bull is a giant at 2200-2700 lbs. we keep one or two for show and semen, they don’t seem to mind. they are so damn large they will break the backs of a female! and kill a person in a heartbeat! we raise everthing organic, we also use the breed herefords for beef.we do feed a small amount of corn silage not 50 to 60 lbs like most milkers, but about 15 lbs of field corn. also timothy Grass hay. and clover and they range on grass all day. they average about 6 gallons of milk per day. not 9 like in california, those cows are burned out and dead in 11 years. our cows live about 20+ years.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 16, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #158564

Jack,

“Since they discovered mad cow disease, how many people have died?”

That isn’t the point.

We are changing things with only how much the profit is in mind, and I think there is more to life and living well (and as a sidebar eating well), than a profit.

I don’t expect everyone to eat organic, far from it, but the “toy” food that is full of unnatural chemical vitamins and additives has to be a part of the cause of a great deal of America’s obesity problems.
We don’t eat food that actually contain the “real” vitamins and minerals that are needed to stay healthy, and American corporations have made a tidy profit on the crap we eat.
Americans want easy. We eat prepackaged, over processed food that needs chemical equivalent vitamins added in order to give it the appearance of real food.
Oh, and because we eat toy food we need to be sold chemical nutrient supplements as well.

I guess that adds even more profit to the bottom line.

Off the subject slightly. How many illegals are hired by the factory farms to harvest the chemically, and genetically enhanced produce that America eats?

Posted by: Rocky at June 16, 2006 11:17 PM
Comment #158565

Rocky

I favor the genetically enhanced plants. They are good for the environment. We can grow more with less input and on less land. GMO golden rice may well help prevent blindness among the poor of Asia. GMO cotton has increased yields AND reduced herbicide and pesticide use. These are not THE solution to our problems, but they belong in the mix. Again, moderation in most things is a good strategy.

Re factory farms - some are messy; others are not. Their record has been improving. And when does a farm become a “factory” farm?

Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 11:35 PM
Comment #158568

A couple of post ago y’all were screaming about manure and claiming it was getting in the drinking water. Well guess what organic farmers fertilize with. So now y’all think it’s cool to buy food with it in it.
Let’s see manure in the water, BAD. Manure in the food, GOOD. Go figure.

I was in a store with my daughter up in Atlanta. It had an organic food section. I was looking around and found organic milk of all things.
Reckon the cows were feed manure instead of grass?

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 17, 2006 12:12 AM
Comment #158584

All,
The way I see it, Jack is just being a contrarian in these discussions. If we on the left say white, he’ll say black. Actually, when it comes to environmental issues, I’ve gathered from his posts that he’s extremely conflicted. In his heart, I think he really does want to do well by the environment, but he’s also concerned with not becoming too much like a liberal about anything. So he has to believe, and say, and do outrageous things sometimes — things that make no sense at all, in order to remain in line with Republican viewpoints.

Jack, I don’t know about where you live in Virginia, but where I live, organic farmers only use solar energy to heat their greenhouses during cold or overcast periods. Everything where I live is geared toward sustainability, including growing stuff that doesn’t naturally grow in this region, such as pineapples and other moist growing tropicals.
You are right when you say that I live in a fantastic place for eating and growing organic food. It’s relatively cheap to buy here too, because there is such a high demand for organic food that it’s actually commonplace. Our local organic farmers can make a very good living with what they produce — which is great, in my opinion.
Personally, I like gardening too, so I frequently grow whatever it is I feel like growing for us to eat. Just a little while ago, I was lucky enough to pick fresh wild plums from my tree, and raspberries, (both red and “white”) from well established canes growing in my new backyard. Great stuff, all organic, and all the birds really love it too.
No, you won’t get any arguement with me when you say that where I live is a good place for the growing of food. But, the honest truth of the matter is, I’ve been eating organic and seasonal my entire life. With a Scottish herbalist grandmother who grew us tons of food herself and canned much of it, and an EPA scientist for a father, my people wouldn’t want to eat, or have their children eat, any other way.
As you say, no one can can get everything they need locally, but people can get one hell of a lot of fresh, healthy and fantastic tasting food in almost every part of this country if they make it a point to eat local, organically-raised foods. It’s good for the environment, the community, and for every single individual.

Btw, no matter how you claim it doesn’t matter that you ate poorly for most of your life, I must beg to differ. For instance, I’ve personally never had a single cavity in my entire life (I’m 43 years old) because my parents never allowed me to develop a sweet-tooth when I was a kid. There was no sugar in our house at all, only locally produced honey. And I’m from Scottish stock, Jack — very bad teeth hereditarily. I still don’t eat much sugar as an adult — it’s just too sweet for my palate and honey actually tastes better to me, so that is what I use for cooking and baking.
My husband has asthma, and he likes honey too. He’s helped all year round by eating local honey. When his asthma gets really bad, he’ll occasionally chew on honeycomb we can buy at the local farmers market. Why does he do this? Because bees gather pollen from the exact stuff that triggers his asthma in our area, and they transfer to the honey the very things that block the histimines he tends to react to — it’s a bit more concentrated in the comb.

In my opinion, local organically grown food is not just “food”, it’s the energy all of us need to thrive, and it draws right from the dirt right beneath our feet — we “swim” in the same sea of minerals, air and water right along with those things we grow and buy and eat.
Not to get too maudlin here, but the way nature has provided for all us is nothing short of a Miracle. (And as you know, I’m not the religious type.) The most wonderful thing is, us humans aren’t at all separate from that miracle — unless we put ourselves there with chemicals that hurt us, and damage the plants, the soil and the water. Mankind is a huge part of the constant cycle — indeed, we perfected the growing of our food — and then we screwed it all up by being too greedy and using things that nobody in the world needs.
What we eat helps, cures, feeds and sustains us — and the food that is locally and organically grown wherever we live in this country, helps, cures, feeds, and sustains us Best Of All.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 17, 2006 1:03 AM
Comment #158599

Ron, We run about 300 milking cows on almost 700 acres in upstate new york.what fertilizer we don’t use, we sell all natural. good common sense organic practices since 1790. where as a Big dairy farmer in southern cal. will run 1000 cows on 50 acres. I have seen the poop as high as 3 ft high, and a pond of cow pis# 1 acre across. there cow poop and pis# is full of animal proteins, antibiotics, growth hormones, and everything you don’t even want to think about.I would worry more about the commercial milk you drink , than the pure organic food you might eat.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 17, 2006 1:58 AM
Comment #158600

Why is it people automatically attribute “organic” foods to family farms. In California, where most organic food is grown, 90% of the organic farms are owned by 4 companies. Not exactly a small family operation. It’s all corperate now. Sorry if I’m taking away your “smug” (I saw south park tonight), but unless you shop exclusively at farmer’s markets, you shouldn’t even begin to believe you are “doing your part”.


Eat locally if you can, but do it for yourself. Until a real certification mark is recognized for “organic” foods, I’m not getting carried away thinking I’m making a difference.

Posted by: Kevin23 at June 17, 2006 1:59 AM
Comment #158615

Kevin, where I live in Northern Cali, people take the “organic standard” very seriously and there are farmers markets galore. What I cooked for dinner tonight (homemade pizza) save for one ingredient (organic wheat bought from my local “Food Mill’ healthfood store) came from as far north as Sonoma and as far south as San Jose. I live in Berkeley.
Your 90% statistic reflects the demand for the idea of “organic” in the state of California, but it doesn’t reflect the reality of where I happen to live. Farmers and the folks who buy from them in this segment of the state are in fact, “making a difference” — though in a strictly local way.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 17, 2006 2:31 AM
Comment #158621

Adrienne,

I am also in NorCal and concede to you that many folks here have the unique ability to get pretty much whatever they want in the way of produce. Nice to live on the greatest farming soil on Earth. Now if we could just stop building houses on it and save it for the next generation to enjoy. I just heard about another case involving the Yolo County Land Trust (one of many entities set up to acquire land and hold in in the public trust) - developers just can’t stand the idea of empty land.

Posted by: Kevin23 at June 17, 2006 2:38 AM
Comment #158678

Jack,
I think bio-engineering is very dangerous. Of course there are benefits that come from GMOs, and many times they can out weigh the risk. I suggest you read Seeds of Deception.

I don’t trust the FDA. We have discussed smaller government, less social programs, what can we do about the FDA? I think they are a bought organization.

Bio-tech engineering is not just scary in the US. In the book, it talks about China developing a tree that kills inscects. Now is that a good idea?

Omg also i just had milk for the first time in a year, and it just completely ruined my stomach. I guess i shouldn’t have read about how much white blood cells (pus) the FDA allows in our milk. I wish I wouldnt have read how much antibiotic and HGH drugs accompany the pus.

Jack just do a little bit of research about milk, meat, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and then tell me we don’t need to change the system. i typed in milk in google then clicked http://www.notmilk.com/.

Posted by: stopculture at June 17, 2006 7:02 AM
Comment #158730

Adrienne


I think we all are conflicted about the environment. We all like to think we are living in harmony with nature, while driving our cars and having nice houses. I started off life as a staunch environmentalist and leftist. As I learned more about both the environment and the economy, I saw things were not so simple.

Your local produce idea is a prime example. It sounds perfect, but it is not. Different regions have advantages in different things. And energy if fungible. If your greenhouses are using solar energy to heat, they still are using energy that could be used somewhere else. Autarky, which is what you are truly advocating, makes no sense.

I believe in organic in moderation. I am willing to use inorganic fertilizers and herbicides where appropriate. The key is proper use. Organic is not always best. It depends on circumstances. Organic belongs in the agricultural toolbox, as do other methods.

Re cavities, much has to do with dental care and toothpaste. I got cavities as a kid and I still pay for that, but I no longer get NEW cavities and none of my kids have ever had any, despite their diets similar to mine. Better toothpaste and fluoride have done these things.

A young woman like you should be healthy. I am 51. I run, ride my bike 17 miles to work and can bench press more than 300lbs. A good diet is important. Whether or not it is organic is immaterial. I did substitute diet coke for regular coke. When you drink a couple liters a day, that makes a difference, but that is simple calories intake. If I took in that many calories in honey, it would still be a problem.

Much of my diet, however, including the oranges and the cola nuts for the coke, come from way over the horizon.

Think of the consequences of your localization idea. Your California situation is fairly uncommon, but I doubt that even your local area (say 100 mile radius) could support the population of your urban area. What about importing other things? Do you want to produce all your own wood, wool, cotton, steel, minerals, industrial products etc? If you say no, where do these things come from? Where I grow trees, most of the food farms have been replaced by tree farms. This makes sense given the nature of our soils and location. People in San Francisco use our trees (thank you). But if we are to grow our food locally, much of this forest has to be converted to food production. On the other side, you have to convert some of your vineyards and vegetable fields to timber production. Doesn’t it make more sense for all of us to do what nature lets us do best?

Posted by: Jack at June 17, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #158744

It all boils down to population, as in out of control.

The earth contains a finite amount of fertile soil upon which to grow our food. Unfortunately, we face an infinite number of people to feed.

Ergo, genetic and other types of manipulation of the food crops to force increased production on the same space.

The problems of over-population and the food supply are inexorably linked, even to a humble peasant such as I.

You can’t alter one without altering the other.

Posted by: ulysses at June 17, 2006 1:42 PM
Comment #158833

Rodney
I don’t drink commercial milk. I have a Guernsey. I also don’t use commercial butter or ice cream. But I know what your talking about.
I also fertilize my garden with manure. And I use praying mantis and lady bugs for pest control. I was just wondering if some of these organic food nuts knew how the growers fertilizer.
I’m not in the least bit against organic food. I eat it at home all the time. We just grow it instead of buying it. Helps to have a farm. You can control what goes into your food. Of course if a person that doesn’t have a farm has room for a garden they could do the same thing.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 18, 2006 12:09 AM
Comment #158835
Dave The corn syrup itself is not the problem. It is the total calorie intake. Posted by: Jack at June 16, 2006 05:54 PM
Jack, Please stop being contrary just to be contrary. There is no connection from my posts content to your reply other that 2L daily of coke didn’t make you fat. Blinders don’t look good on anyone, even horses. Posted by: Dave at June 18, 2006 12:14 AM
Comment #158840

Dave

I didn’t mean to be contrary. I saw an author on the Daily Show talking about corn syrup. He blamed that specifically. I thought that you were talking about the same thing. Of course 100 calories of sweetner is the same whether it comes from cane sugar, corn syrup or honey.

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #158857

Ron, that is a good one the guernsey, it has the highest butterfat and cream output of all the breeds.and easy to handle. as you well know, when god was handing out brains to the cows they thought God said Trains, and the cows said to god we already have some.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 18, 2006 1:45 AM
Comment #158868

Once again, we play the “It’s someone else’s fault” game. High fructose corn syrup makes you fat…government should regulate food content…if I had my way parking lots would be 1/2 mile away…on and on. Here’s two little words for you all…PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!!!

If you are fat, (barring some genetic disorders which do exist but are not the primary cause of most obesity)…if you are fat it is your OWN FAULT!! If you smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years and you got lung cancer, it’s your OWN FAULT!!! If you order a cup of coffee (a beverage which everyone knows is typically served hot) and you put the styrofoam cup between your legs and squeezed it, and it spilled on your lap and burned you, it’s your OWN FAULT!!! No one made you do any of things…you did it on your own.

I know…some of you will throw out the old arguement about how the big tobacco companies manipulated nicotine levels to keep smokers hooked…how we practically have to buy heavily fructose laden foods because there is no other good alternative…how we should have been warned that hot coffee would burn us, or dropping an electric radio in our bath would electrocute us, or driving while drunk would cause us to get in a wreck and kill someone…we should have been warned so it is not our fault!!

Well, as a former smoker I can say…NO ONE ever forced me to smoke that first cigarette. Maybe they did manipulate the nicotine levels, but I put that first cig in my mouth, I lit it, and I inhaled! No one held me down and stuffed it into my mouth. I blame no one but myself for the next 10 years of smoking. I have spilled coffee on myself numerous times, and every time it was my own fault. I knew the coffee was hot…that’s one of the reasons for ordering it!! If I dropped the cup or squeezed it too hard, or drippped on my hand, it isn’t the fault of the vendor I bought it from that it was hot. That’s what I asked for…HOT COFFEE!!
I am overweight because I eat too much of the wrong things. I know that. I don’t blame the food processors, or the grocery store, or the farmers, or the government, for my being fat. I am fat because of the choices I have made. I know there are better choices available to me out there. If and when I am ready to do something about it, I will, but just like the choices which made me fat, eating better and losing weight will be MY CHOICE!!! Not the government, nor the farmer, nor General Foods or Pepsico…not the Center for Science in the Public Interest…no one else can make that choice for me.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!! It is one of the values this country is founded on. Making one’s choices and then living with the consequences of those decisions. You should all try exercising a little choice, and stop looking for someone else to blame for all your problems.

Posted by: DaveR at June 18, 2006 3:14 AM
Comment #158910

Rodney
Ain’t that the truth. There’s nothing dumber and more ornery than a cow.
When I was a kid we had a grade B dairy. Back then the dairies paid for both butterfat and volume. We had 30 head of Holsteins for volume and 5 head of Guernseys for butterfat.
Of course today they only pay for volume so most dairy farmers only have Holsteins.
I’m thinking that now that we have 3 of our grand kids living with us that I’m gonna to have to get another cow. They go through milk faster than any 3 calves. I’d like another Gurnsey but we need volume so I’ll most likey get a Holstein.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 18, 2006 3:05 PM
Comment #158987

Jack,

I probably wasn’t clear. We generally eat healthy kinds of foods. My problem with corn syrup was that it was in a drink he liked when he drank it at camp. We added the drink to his diet and in the end we found out it seemed to make him hungrier than he was otherwise. He always wanted more to drink and have snacks. In the prior summers he lost weight even though we pushed calories on him. When we removed the drink his appetite went back to normal. In his case there is some evidence that the HF corn syrup was the main reason why he was eating too much and gained the weight.

Posted by: Dave at June 18, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #159114

DaveR:

Are you willing to support legislation that would force people who clearly inflict these problems (caused by over-eating, smoking, etc) on themselves to have to pay for their own medical bills when they need that quadruple bypass at age 35?

That would be personal accountability. And would also allow the rest of us our free choice to not have to pay higher insurance premiums as a result of these gluttons. Isn’t that a more direct and fair solution to what we have now?

Posted by: Kevin23 at June 19, 2006 12:45 PM
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