Monday, April 26, 2010

QotD: Cynicism edition.

We watched a debate the other morning on Banner Bloomberg's pet TeeWee station in which the question was "Organic foods are marketing hype." Attacking the proposition were such luminaries as the food writer for Vogue, and they handily trounced the other side, made up of people like the former head honcho of food standards for H.M. Government and an actual, you know, farmer.

Quoth my roomie, in disgust:
The more I see, the more I'm convinced our civilization deserves to starve. We're breeding for gullibility. It's painful to watch.
She's right; that audience was the most painful concentration of stupid I've seen in a while. If we'd let zombies loose into that auditorium, they'd have starved to death.

23 comments:

Joanna said...

My mom justifies organic food by saying that if she pulled a spotty pepper out of her garden, she'd eat it, so what's the big deal about a spotty pepper from the store?

To which I say, the whole point of commercial produce is to avoid the spots in the first place. I ain't got the time or the money to mess around.

Weer'd Beard said...

I'm sure its better to eat food that hasn't had various pesticides and synthetic fertilizers sprinkled on them. (Hell my Great-Uncle is a life-long potato farmer up in nowhere-Maine, and he just recently kicked cancer that is linked to pesticide and herbicide contact...but that's a bit different than me supping up to a bowl of spuds at the supper table)

That being said with the prevalence of commercial produce being consumed you'd think we could find ourselves a nice trend.

This is the same idea as it's very likely you're doing yourself a favor living 100 miles from a major highway. All that exhaust fumes, and diesel soot, not to mention the crap they make the roads out of, and use to keep it finest kind year-round, is not exactly health-food.

That being said I've lived only a handful of miles from I-95 my whole life, just like millions of other people.

There are also a good chunk of people who live in Otter-Fart Missisippi, and Frog-Holler Kentucky, as well as East Widipitloc Maine where you need to drive for a half hour just to find a paved road, let alone a speed limit sign.

But yet nothing as conclusive as, say people who suck on ciggies, or people like my Uncle who used to spray plants with chemicals wearing nothing but his overalls and a straw hat.

When you look at the data set we DO have, you have to have flunked a LOT of science and stats courses to not really start questioning why you should spend $5 for an orange that looks like Ted Kennedy's brain tumor, when you can buy a 10# Sack that are bright and pretty as the setting sun for $8.

Sure I don't like eating pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, but I also like buying stuff other than groceries, and I don't intend on eating the peel of my orange anyway.

Ken said...

1. Demography suggests rather strongly that it's probably not a problem (look at US life expectancy figures through the preceding century).

2. Biochemist and microbiologist Bruce Ames, developer of the Ames oncogenicity assay (the mice! the rats! they howl for his blood) and one of the leading lights in toxicology, points out that 98% of the compounds evaluated as carcinogenic in a typical, say, apple are naturally occurring. (Also, a mouse is not a man, and the doses they feed some of those critters looking for an acute LD50 cause endocrine problems in and of themselves.)

3. Bottom line: Rinse your produce (a good practice even if it came from your back yard) and don't worry about it.

4. All that said, fresh produce that doesn't have to travel as far invariably tastes better and keeps longer on the shelf/in the fridge.

Sarah said...

"...breeding for gullibility." Instant classic.

But yeah, I'm with Weer'd on wanting to buy something in addition to groceries. I *do* like very fresh food, which is why having a few hens is pretty cool along with a small garden in the spring and fall, but I'm not going to hobble out of the store with a freshly violated butt just because organic food is allegedly better.

Ken said...

PS -- If you're using crop protection products, always read and follow all label directions, including recommended personal protective equipment.

Anonymous said...

But it's not about putting some brain cells to work making *personal* decisions about the food you eat or anything else, Mr. Beard; it's about making those decisions being made for you. Because that's where the money/power comes from.

Organic foods, health care, the car you drive, the financial instruments available to you...all just methods of revenue generation aka power.

There's hope though; if BO has lost control of Tam's flying monkeys (you racist!), that could mean there's still some neuron firing going on that, in addition to ensuring a source of nutrition for the zombies, could mean it's still possible to put the brakes to this runaway train to the graveyard of freedom and personal responsibility.

Though history would indicate it's more a matter of short attention span, impatience with the lack of results and free shit, and the beginning of the search for the next messiah.

AT

Desertrat said...

I keep at least a casual eye on farming data, fairly regularly. It is my understanding that on any comparison basis, organic farming produces about forty percent as much as present commercial practices.

Just for the hell of it, I'll settle for sixty percent.

Which generally translates into some forty percent fewer people on this old dirtball in space.

Art

Bram said...

Idiocracy was a truly prophetic movie.

Wolfwood said...

I think there may be a conflation of two different things here. On one hand, organic produce doesn't have the same pesticides and fertilizers as regular food. On the other, sometimes that growth can be "uneven."

I agree that most organic foods I've tried have tasted inferior to the regular versions. Out of curiosity, I did a blind taste-test with strawberries a few years back and found the organic ones to be noticeably tastier. I'm guessing that the fertilizers caused the regular strawberries to become much bigger but didn't also multiply the amount of the chemicals we actually taste.

This would explain how sometimes organic food advocates list "better taste" as an advantage and why, invariably, the organic food non-hippies try doesn't taste very good. If people are mixing up malformation with the effects of chemicals, I can see why that portion of the organic food movement makes that argument.

Ken said...

The best strawberries (typically) are PYO, assuming you don't actually grow your own. Here in Ahiya, strawberries peak about June 20; I'm going to try to take my sons berry-picking this year.

tickmeister said...

Seems to me the US isn't all that healthy in spite of the long lives everybody touts. We spend an astronomical amount of money to get that lifespan, mostly spent late in life treating the effects of "lifestyle diseases". On the whole, we are fat as hogs and tend to die of from cancer, heart disease, complications from diabetes, that sort of thing. I suspect that if the country as a whole ate better food, we would eat less of it, be less fat, and live just as long without all the medical intervention and feel better doing it.

I think that good quality locally grown food produced in a more natural fashion would do us a world of good. By natural, I do not mean "organic", a word that has been corrupted by government regulation to be much the opposite of what it once was.

Tam said...

"On the whole, we are fat as hogs and tend to die of from cancer, heart disease, complications from diabetes, that sort of thing."

The problem is that most people who share that viewpoint also seem to think that Something Must Be Done.

And that's where I've got a big damned problem with them.

Ken said...

Seems to me the US isn't all that healthy in spite of the long lives everybody touts.

With all due respect, I wish to ask: Compared to whom and/or what?

We spend an astronomical amount of money to get that lifespan, mostly spent late in life treating the effects of "lifestyle diseases".

Fair enough, but first you have to get there, don't you?

On the whole, we are fat as hogs and tend to die of from cancer, heart disease, complications from diabetes, that sort of thing.

The unifying factor that 99 and 44/100% of the "we" to whom that generalization actually applies is this: They volunteered. I volunteered to conduct myself differently (sure, I could stand to lose 15 pounds, but I walk, take the stairs, ride my bike, do a little swimming and ice skating, and eat some salad now and again).

I think that good quality locally grown food produced in a more natural fashion would do us a world of good. By natural, I do not mean "organic", a word that has been corrupted by government regulation to be much the opposite of what it once was.

Again, fair enough, but what's the tradeoff? There is always a tradeoff between Is and Ought: we must consider it openly, that there may be an honest accounting.

staghounds said...

"On the whole, we are fat as hogs and tend to die of from cancer, heart disease, complications from diabetes, that sort of thing."

AT EIGHTY YEARS OLD. Which is ten years past the "best by" date on our brains.

And gullibility is just a marker.

We're breeding for irresponsibility (active and passive).

bluesun said...

A couple summers ago I had a job locating placement sites for a seismic survey and got to drive all over the countryside in NE MT (AKA "West Dakota"). I remember driving down a road through some feilds--one side had signs stating it was organic, no pesticide etc. used, and the other side was regular farming. The regular side looked like it was growing, the organic side looked like it was dying.

Cond0010 said...

"On the whole, we are fat as hogs and tend to die of from... I suspect that if the country as a whole ate better food, we would eat less of it, be less fat, and live just as long without all the medical intervention and feel better doing it."

I kinda figured eating less food would be the key.

...and eating better? Well, thats part of the whole malnutrition issue (eat a little meat everyday and much of the malnutrition issue goes away - minus the fiber and roughage needs). After all, meat is a full protein (ie all the body needs to make healthy cells)

Obesity is a much bigger health issue in this country than malnutrition. Just eat less - thats taking responsibility for your own actions and not blaming the government or big business or even your inherited genes.

Eat less.

Dixie said...

Hell my Great-Uncle is a life-long potato farmer up in nowhere-Maine, and he just recently kicked cancer that is linked to pesticide and herbicide contact...

That's what 2,4-D and Cacodylic acid exposure does.

All the howling about Agent Orange and Agent Blue in Vietnam, and we still use the crap on our lawns and fields.

(On a side note-- your uncle, did he have bladder and/or kidney cancer?)

Lewis said...

Processed foods are killing us. There's HFCS in just about everything you can buy, from bread to spaghetti sauce. I'm not too hung up on organic (vice, what, inorganic?) produce, but I do my best to avoid processed foods.

Also, I'm convinced that grass fed beef is vastly better for you than grain fed. Sure, it's more expensive, but it's better for you. (My analogy is to say you can get a Lorcin 9mm for a pittance, or you can spend money and get a 9mm Commander, say---or are they both "just 9mms"?) Check out the ratios of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids between grass and grain fed beef, and make the call yourself.

The USDA whomped up a big to-do about thirty-five years ago, warning us about butter and eggs, cholesterol and saturated fat. Since then, we really have gotten fatter and sicker. Ancel Keys' lipid hyphothesis has killed more people than Cecil B. deMille.

og said...

yep. Not one person, however, is addressing the number one cause of death: Life.

Live healthy, eat right,exercise, die anyway.

Me, I intend to screech to a stop with all the components worn out- and not just worn out, but used up and beat to death, so badly that they have to close the coffin. And what a ride it will have been. I'd rather love ten years than hate thirty. And because I smoked when i was younger, I'll die younger, with less healthcare consumed (Which I PAID FOR, NOT ANYONE ELSE)saving the REST of MY insurance money to pay for the late-term health care of those smug assholes that lived longer because they led gastronomically boring lives and obsessively sucked the joy from their existence by repetitive muscle abuse. Those fuckers owe me and they'd better pay up.

og said...

(sorry about the language)

Joseph said...

There's evidence we were misled by the anti-saturated-fat propaganda. Why should we believe today's faddists are any more accurate?

DaveFla said...

"...obsessively sucked the joy from their existence by repetitive muscle abuse."

While I grant you that I shall be laughing heartily at myself the first time I *pay* to do a trail run ("hey, just think: if we had an 80 lb pack and a weapon and we were 20 years younger, they might PAY US to do this crap!") coming up in June, well... I'll be laughing. Heartily. No joy sucking involved. Never been there, got the T-shirts to prove it.

I know I'm not going to live forever, even if I go all Jack LaLanne on my diet (I do ride motersickels...) OTOH, maybe I won't be like Dad's side of the family and spend the last 20-25 years jabbing a needle into my gut twice a day. Meantime, it's a total hoot to run a course with teenage relatives. YMMV.

tickmeister said...

Far be it from me to suggest that "something must be done". Eat what you like, die when you die. Nor is it my responsibility to convince anybody of anything.

I simply prefer to eat decent food, a lot of which I produce myself, and stay reasonably strong by means of the work involved in doing it. This allows me to enthusiastically indulge the vices that I have enjoyed since my youth over a half century ago. The idea that I thus impose a burden on myself is lunacy.