Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Store Wars

"Store Wars" provided by You Tube
Let's go back to 2005. I was blasting this video to smithereens in my Environmental Science presentation. I needed a controversial environmental topic, and this is how I went about it:

1. Aha! A subtle flaw: what are the filmmakers saying by staging the heroes in a smoking bar? Are they promoting health, or not? "The health hazards of smoking are far worse than pesticides," I claimed, and the second-hand smoke is worse still which dwarfs the message that conventional fruit is dangerous.

2. Irradiation: we don't know that it does any harm, but it does scare people. (perhaps I can write more on this as I know more)

3. GMO foods: same (also, I'd like to get back to)

4. Pesticides- I quoted from some lady, "The health benefits of apples far outweigh any cost of pesticides." Another timeless saying.

4. Organic doesn't even mean what people hope it means. In order to make things identifiable, the government of necessity produces standards, labeled by USDA organic sticker. As homework for my classmates they read the list of what are allowable products to apply to organic produce. The list is in my memory 18 pages long. Wow. It may actually be longer. Plus, it did include controversial pesticides.

5. I then made a small little market of goods with arbitrary prices, and we did a little shopping. When it came down to it, I asked, "If presented with these prices and these items, would you choose the conventional apple, the organic apple, or the corn dog?" with the items descending in price from organic to conventional to corn dog, with corn dog being extremely cheap. I was making a case that promotion of organic reduces total produce consumption.

Food Inc. (2008) seems to show evidence in my favor, although not involving organics. They follow a minority working family to the grocery store. The mother states aloud, "sometimes you look at a vegetable, and say, well we can get two hamburgers for the same price." Yes. Caught 'em.

I would add that organics increases this effect by decreasing the desirability of the conventional apple in order to avoid pesticides, and thus increasing the price to get worthy produce. Fantastic Mr. Fox also demonstrates this anti- conventional produce fear with, "And even this apple looks fake" in Boggis, Bunce and Bean's grocery, placing them in the same category as synthetic crackles and artificial Giblets. Is that really what we want, people avoiding conventional fruits and vegetables?

6. The conclusion: The FDA and EPA are working very hard to keep us safe, and they have strict standards. (Showed picture of record-size (huge!) tuna caught by young boy that EPA deemed unsafe for consumption. He had to throw it back. :( ) Can't we trust them?

Man, if I could reverse that one. I see that argument used for BPA, MSG, probably beyond: "Let's look at what the FDA is doing." Weak.

*Can I also add that Princess Leah has "dark-side" fudge dipped donettes for hair?


I think organic is a step in the right direction, with some limitations. One problem with organics is that my friends say they just can't support organic or Food Co-ops, or that they do, but its not realistic when they're trying to support a family. What good is "healthy" food if its only feasible to persons of affluence? Especially when the majority of the population in poverty are children?

What to Expect When You're Expecting
(2008) has this to say about choosing organic:

"Best to buy organic (because even after washing, these foods still carry higher levels of pesticide residue than others): Apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, nectarines, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach.

"No need to go organic on these foods (because these products generally don't contain pesticide residue on them): Bananas, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapples, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, onions, and peas.

"Don't bother with so-called organic fish. There are no USDA organic certification standards for seafood (which means producers are making their own claims about why it's organic)."

Pullman has a Fresh Farm Market Wednesdays 4:30-6:30. I still haven't been this year even though its conveniently 3 blocks from my house. Just keep forgetting.

Its great to go local, even better, to farm. When I'd hear "the average produce travels 5,000 miles," I'd think, who cares how far its traveled? Its probably a totally efficient system that gets it to us fast. (I'm just in this moment realizing their speaking of fuel consumption. Oops.) Although, learning that all my produce, especially tomatoes, are picked green is kind of disturbing. Get this, though: if you're gardening, the travel of that raspberry you're eating could be 2 feet vs. the 2,000. Think of the nutritional benefits. Nutritional value can greatly be depleted of produce within days of harvesting.

How to save produce that comes all in a big heap once a year? (Read more about root cellars.) If you're ambitious, David Wann suggests, "Set target dates for serving the recipes, such as roasting red, white, and blue new potatoes for the Fourth of July; midsummer night's pesto; or strategically planted salsa for autumn football parties."

More good news about organic or local (or bad news for conventional) is:

"Hormone disrupters like the pesticides DDT, DDD, lindane, and heptachlor have been banned in many countries including the United States. Some of them, however, are still manufactured in the United States or by U.S. corporations abroad, and then sold to developing countries for use on their crops. In 1994 the United States exported nine tons of these banned pesticides per day. Some foreign crops treated with these chemicals come back to us so that we are consuming some of what we have banned. This circle of poison creates a worldwide problem." (Barbee, 86)

Experts and doctors claim that organic produce has more nutrients than conventional produce. I don't understand that, as I would think that it would be dependent on soil conditions, etc., but that's what they're saying. Pesticides are also extra toxins that our bodies have to deal with, which may contribute to weight gain.

I have read an online complaint about organic wheat. Even though it was organic, it didn't mean it was better. It was probably grown on a poor, thistled plot of ground, made obvious in the bread making process as protein was lacking, resulting in it not rising as well. Wheat berries vary considerably in protein content.

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