I bought you some groceries. I thought you might like to start eating organic.
Nah, that’s for rich people who hate themselves – Tina Fey and Amy Poeler in Baby Momma
The organic revolution started with the California cuisine movement in the 1970s. In its original incarnation it was an admirable effort to simply eat fresh food, grown in a proximity to where it was prepared to ensure the highest quality and peak age. It was food grown on a small scale, to provide for small populations and small restaurants. It was possible to grow produce to supply individual restaurants in private gardens. What wasn’t grown on site was bought at local farmer’s markets. It was a small sustainable system available to residents of Northern California.
The organic food movement now is a façade of a clown face, a trend, a fad – like Atkins. Organic food has nothing to do with fresh food any longer. Eating organic food signals to those around you that you are a) health conscious, b) well off c) mindful of other’s opinions of yourself, d) naïve, e) and unattractive. Alright, I may have embellished that last point, but I stand behind the others. The organic food movement is a joke. America is the unwitting butt.
Organic food is designated as such by the USDA. The standards for organic certification are that food labeled “organic” be grown, harvested and processed according to standards that include restrictions on pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Food labeled “100% organic” must have no synthetic ingredients and can use the USDA organic seal. Food labeled “organic” must have a minimum of 95% organic ingredients and can use the USDA organic seal. Meat, eggs, poultry and dairy labeled “organic” must come from animals that have never received antibiotics or growth hormones. But as the Detroit Free Press indicates, the consumer can expect to pay from 10% to 100% more for “organic” foods. As the demand for organic foods increases, the production yield decreases driving the cost up. This is Farming 101; when you are moving product, you increase your yield. After you increase your land suffers and you must cycle it with nitrogen-rich crops, or let it rest, or use synthetic fertilizer. Or, you can grow smaller amounts of food and jack the price up – less land, less labor, less product – more money.
This is a marketing ploy, plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against marketers. In fact, some of my closest friends are marketers. My problem is with the people who buy it. The people for whom eating organic is an indicator of status. They aren’t even as insightful as vegetarians. At least vegetarians can operate under the delusion that they are doing something positive for the population. Organitarians are the same assholes that drive BMWs, have $1000 purses and send their children to academies. Sarah Palin would be an organitarian if she wasn’t such a simple-minded dolt, and if Alaska had a Whole Foods. I thank my lucky stars that we are still the kind of place that builds to frenzy over the new Target store (which by the way is just Fred Meyer with different shitty brands you’ve never heard of).
I can see it now – the pallid, wind-burnt faces of the cross country skiers, with their Mountain Hardware fleece pullovers, their Swix stretch pants with the severely tapered cuffs, their graying goatees or flat brown hair, noses red and raw, just begging to be seen at the Whole Foods by other assholes of their ilk, hoping to talk about themselves, but knowing that they themselves have only been feigning interest in those stories since they gave up on enjoying food, convincing themselves that they like eating stir-fry and brown rice every day.
Most people simply don’t understand what organic means. They do not understand that the USDA is basing their certifications on the word of farms. You can’t possibly know what materials are used to grow, from the seeds, to the fertilizer, to the pesticide, unless you are there to see it. I doubt if there are inspectors present. Also, the USDA is a government agency; Archer Daniel Midland (ADM) and ConAgra Foods are some of the largest corporations in the world. These companies have major sway over the policies of the government. What ADM says is organic will get the USDA sticker, no questions asked.
I really don’t need to be conspiratorial here. Think about the organic foods that you have seen or bought. Where did you get them? Who was selling them? Was it a grizzled Kansas farmer at the farmer’s market or at his roadside stand? Doubt it. It was at a food-giant supermarket, wasn’t it? Do you think that there is a small, local, organic farm supplying your Safeway? Well, there isn’t. They buy their organic food from the same suppliers as everything else. There are major factory farms that supply the country’s organic niche. There practices simply cannot be up to a meaningful standard. Get over it.
There is nothing wrong with organic food. There is nothing wrong with the corporations and smaller companies that sell it. There is nothing wrong with the people who eat it. I have no problem buying and enjoying organic foods myself. But, I’m not going to fool myself into thinking I’m making a better choice simply because of the sticker. And I don’t want any fucking stir-fry.
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