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"Organic" Foods

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Mod's note: Split from another thread. - sN

Define Hippie food. You must have me confused by your assumptions, with a category that I don't belong in.

No, I'm warning you that the supposed merits of it are hippie lies for the most part (like I said, there are some exceptions) and that you need to re-examine your interest in that food; not that you are necessarily a hippie. "Hippie food" means food for hippies (i.e. people who buy into environmentalism, anti-globalism, etc), which is what it is.

Edited by softwareNerd
Added 'split from' notice

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You sound prejudice against people who eat organic food and arbitrarily call them germ lovers and hippies in a derrogatory way.
More accurately, people who seek food labeled "organic" and think that that is a rational value. I myself have eaten "organic" food when I can't find better inorganic food, but only if it meets minimum standards of quality and safety. I would never eat "organic" food coming from a "farmer's market" or local hippie store -- only from major corporations like Kroger, who might be trusted to be aware that "organic" food poses a greater health risk. In other words, my objection to "organic" food is that it is usually of poorer quality and is popular because of irrational premises, but occasionally you can find "organic" food that is edible, and I'm less concerned with other people's irrationality, since they will probably die prematurely from diseased food or something like that.

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No, I'm warning you that the supposed merits of it are hippie lies for the most part (like I said, there are some exceptions) and that you need to re-examine your interest in that food; not that you are necessarily a hippie. "Hippie food" means food for hippies (i.e. people who buy into environmentalism, anti-globalism, etc), which is what it is.

what are the exceptions ? And how do you know I don't fit into the exception? Should I be worried about the tomatos I grow in my own backyard? Am I cutting into the profits of Ragu Inc? I believe in free market !!

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More accurately, people who seek food labeled "organic" and think that that is a rational value. I myself have eaten "organic" food when I can't find better inorganic food, but only if it meets minimum standards of quality and safety. I would never eat "organic" food coming from a "farmer's market" or local hippie store -- only from major corporations like Kroger, who might be trusted to be aware that "organic" food poses a greater health risk. In other words, my objection to "organic" food is that it is usually of poorer quality and is popular because of irrational premises, but occasionally you can find "organic" food that is edible, and I'm less concerned with other people's irrationality, since they will probably die prematurely from diseased food or something like that.

David, I know some companies put on the words "organic" and don't meet standards and try to pull off low quality product...duh I also eat non organic foods. I look for food that tastes good, has the right color, looks like good quality based on size and texture, etc...but I disagree about local markets. I am not an environmentalist per say, but I don't want a company polluting the water because I have to drink it and its in my best interest that I care. I'm all in favor of technology but I don't really trust most companies. I have to weigh things out. I don't have a canned reply to circumstances. You think I'm some crazy socialist who believes its fair and right for the gov't to stop one region of farmers to profit because lack of rain hindered crop growth in a different region, because i eat organic food ? Here on Long Island many people grow their own, myself included, not because I don't want a company to profit. I want any company who can produce a product the public wants to make as much money as possible. I like the fact that I can save money producing my own handful of veggies and herbs this way, its fun and I can spend my money on something else I want like a new bike or vacation or whatever. I could care less about the farmers making money.

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I am not an environmentalist per say, but I don't want a company polluting the water because I have to drink it and its in my best interest that I care. I'm all in favor of technology but I don't really trust most companies.

Thank you, and goodnight.

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Thank you, and goodnight.

You worry about me spreading germs by not washing my hands 10 times a day, but you don't question some waste dumping practices of certain businesses. I believe in property rights. If that makes me a hippie in your opinion , then it does. Goodnight Inspector.

Edited by Alessa36

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I am not an environmentalist per say, but I don't want a company polluting the water because I have to drink it and its in my best interest that I care. I'm all in favor of technology but I don't really trust most companies.

I am not a racialist, but, und... this is a big but, we in the National Bocialist Party believe das Überleben muss gestammen sein mit der schneaky Armstrong-Jones. Historische Taunton ist Volkermeinig von Meinhead.

Listen, I don't know why so many Objectivists don't seem to "get" the whole environmentalist thing. Like somehow it's okay to trust them even a little bit. Like somehow it's okay to ever put the word "but" after "I am not an environmentalist." And then going on about "companies" and "pollution." I'm not interested in this kind of discussion at this point with someone who has so obviously swallowed so much of their tripe that you'd even speak like that.

I don't know; maybe David will help you or something. I'm just about out of patience with this kind of thing, though. Don't mind me; carry on...

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David, I know some companies put on the words "organic" and don't meet standards
As far as I can tell, all food is organic. The real word "organic" has a meaning with negligible connection to the hippie term "organic". It confuses the issue to use the word organic to refer to something that "organic" doesn't mean, so let's replace the word; let's talk about "anti-man" foods, to refer to those foods created according to certain hippie-kashrut rituals. I don't think we need to immediately get into the question of which particular rites we follow.
I look for food that tastes good, has the right color, looks like good quality based on size and texture, etc...
These are, of course, the prime considerations, followed by "safety" (i.e. not going to kill you from E. coli), and price.
but I disagree about local markets.
By which we're speaking of the freak and fake-farmer markets. I don't have much of a problem with the fake-farmers, except that they are usually exploiting people's irrationality. That is their right of course, but I think it's bad to encourage and enable irrationality. The freaks are selling dangerous and/or inferior goods, so of course I would avoid them. But it is your right to endanger your life and flush your money down the organic sewer if you wish.
I am not an environmentalist per say, but I don't want a company polluting the water because I have to drink it and its in my best interest that I care.
Alright, but since major food-producing companies are not a problem, I don't see how this is relevant.
I'm all in favor of technology but I don't really trust most companies.
On the other hand, I am opposed to regressive primitivism (meaning that I oppose people regressing to the stone age, because that is immoral), and I don't trust hippies.
You think I'm some crazy socialist who believes its fair and right for the gov't to stop one region of farmers to profit because lack of rain hindered crop growth in a different region, because i eat organic food ?
Uh, I haven't figured out yet if you're a socialist. I've so far only concluded that you have seriously misguided ideas about food. The issue really comes down to whether the food producer is competent. All of the evidence available to me shows that Whole Foods sells wholesome food, so I am willing to buy anti-man food from them if the price is right. I would never dream of buying anti-man foods from the local so-called "farmer's market", because it is extremely risky, also obscenely expensive.

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.These are, of course, the prime considerations, followed by "safety" (i.e. not going to kill you from E. coli), and price. But it is your right to endanger your life and flush your money down the organic sewer if you wish. since major food-producing companies are not a problem, I don't see how this is relevant.On the other hand, I am opposed to regressive primitivism (meaning that I oppose people regressing to the stone age, because that is immoral), and I don't trust hippies.

The issue really comes down to whether the food producer is competent. All of the evidence available to me shows that Whole Foods sells wholesome food, so I am willing to buy anti-man food from them if the price is right.

We are very much in agreement and I buy most of my food at markets like whole food or wild by nature. If i go cycling out east and pass an orchard, I would stop and eat some fruit from them. You don't have to. My running partner is an environmental engineer who does soil and water samples at sites before and after a company uses the land. Certain levels of toxic material is permissabe under the law to go into the Ground water. I know a certain amount of pollution is necessary and normal to have the technology we enjoy today. I don't buy into the environmental scare and global warming crap that is popular today.

Listen, I don't know why so many Objectivists don't seem to "get" the whole environmentalist thing. Like somehow it's okay to trust them even a little bit. Like somehow it's okay to ever put the word "but" after "I am not an environmentalist." And then going on about "companies" and "pollution." I'm not interested in this kind of discussion at this point with someone who has so obviously swallowed so much of their tripe that you'd even speak like that.

I don't know; maybe David will help you or something. I'm just about out of patience with this kind of thing, though. Don't mind me; carry on...

My boyfriend is an Objectivist and he loves me...

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As far as I can tell, all food is organic.

Hear, hear!

I'm tired of the missuse given to that term. Aside from salt and some mineral suplements, everything you eat is organic.

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Did you just publicly confess to theft??

They sell their items , fruit, vegetables, flowers and such at stands near the entrance to the orchard.

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Like somehow it's okay to ever put the word "but" after "I am not an environmentalist."

Hmm. How about, "I'm not an environmentalist but I play one on TV"? (Kinda hard to come up with any other examples where it's okay though...)

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Hmm. How about, "I'm not an environmentalist but I play one on TV"? (Kinda hard to come up with any other examples where it's okay though...)

"I'm not an environmentalist but I know enough about environmentalism to reject it"

"I'm not an environmentalist but I am forced to pay for their lunacy"

"I'm not an environmentalist but unfortunately I'm in the minority"

"I'm not an environmentalist but I wish global warming could submerge [insert rights violating country]"

"I'm not an environmentalist but I do like cats"

:lol:

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Hmm. How about, "I'm not an environmentalist but I play one on TV"? (Kinda hard to come up with any other examples where it's okay though...)

"I'm not an environmentalist, but I'm glad because I can't spell that word to save my life!"

"I'm not an environmentalist, but then I've always been a rational being."

"I'm not an environmentalist, but then I've always favored rational thought."

"I'm not an environmentalist, but if ever I grow to hate civilization I can become one."

"I'm not an environmentalist, but if I ever grow to hate myself I can become one."

Ok, there are some odd turns of phrase there, but we all know what Inspector meant :lol:

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As David says, organic foods are just as organic as their supermarket alternatives. So, everyone has their own fuzzy concept of what it means for food to be "organic".

I think there are various reasons people buy the types of food that are labelled "organic". The "hippee" idea -- "save-the-earth and your body from toxins" -- is one reason. It may be the most important reason for some buyers, but not for all.

A second reason why people buy such foods is that they think it tastes better. I'm a bit of a "food philistine", and, being so, I usually shop at the regular super-market. However, people whom I know to be fairy rational and also more aware of taste, assure me that many of the ingredients that are labelled "organic" do taste better. I have no reason to disbelieve them. Similarly, I know that many people who come to the US from India comment that the vegetables are all so big, but don't have the same intensity of taste as the vegetables in India. I've heard this from so many Indian housewife cooks with zero "hippee" agenda that I tend to believe it. (It is possible, of course, that this latter example is a case of cultural standards where "different" is being translated to "worse"; but, I doubt it.)

Even if some vegetables do degrade in taste when one tries to make them "go further" by making them increase in size, better taste does not mean "better in general", regardless of context. In India, for instance, many people suffer from severe malnutrition and hunger precisely because so much agriculture is old-fashioned. Small quantities of smaller vegetables are of no value to a person who cannot afford to buy them.

One thing I've noticed about stores like "Wholefood" and "Trader Joe" is that their message is that food is fun, while the typical supermarket more utilitarian. "Wholefood" spends money on store-artists who do interesting in-store sketches; "Trader Joe" has a newsrag that spins little stories about their products. These stores also experiment with new and exotic flavors and foods from around the world, making food an adventure, not just something that keeps one alive. Their food is projected as a value for the mind, not just for the body.

Of course, these stores also do extremely stupid things to retain their "hippee" message. A recent example was when Wholefood removed live lobsters from it's stores after complaints about cruelty to lobsters!

So, while "organic" is a pretty vague and fluid idea, customers of the "organic" labels are being sold the following arguments:

  • This food is better for the environment
  • This food is healthier for you
  • This food tastes better
  • This food is fun

Except for the first, those are good messages and good things to seek out. The second is a good thing, but in most cases the food is not healthier, and may be less healthy (e.g. if some store refused to carry food that has been irradiated). The third claim may have some merit, at least for some of the foods. The fourth claim has some merit too.

In summary, one could have good reasons to shop at stores like "Wholefoods" or to buy other items that are labelled "organic", but it has little to do with whether they are "more organic" than the alternatives.

Edited by softwareNerd

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SoftwareNerd, I'm not sure how an organic food can be "fun"... at least not any more so than any inorganic food. Could you explain please?
To clarify my previous post, I said that "organic" was a fuzzy label. I was saying that if one considered the larger (non-niche) stores like "Wholefoods" and "Trader Joe's", their product-message is not simply "this food is good for the environment" or "this food is good for you". Those messages are part of the brand, but not the only part. They're also saying "this food is fun". In other words, the message is not "this food is fun, because it is organic". The message is this food is good etc. and it is fun.

Does that clarify? Is the question is more general: how can food be "fun"? (By "fun" I meant, it is something enjoyable beyond it's function of keeping one alive and containing the right balance of proteins, vitamins, etc.) I think "Trader Joe's" is a better example than "Wholefoods" because it does not try to sell a wide range of products. They find foods that one cannot get at the normal retailer -- they entice their customers to experiment with new foods and flavors. They try to make their packaging attractive. Their rag-mag spins little stories about the food and give customers recipes or ideas in how they can enjoy the food. So, that part of their message is saying: this is food you can really enjoy.

BTW: Note to all... though our family hardly ever shops at "Trader Joe's", if there is one near you and you haven't checked it out, you should. Not a place you can buy all the groceries for the week, but you'll probably find something new and interesting.

Edited by softwareNerd

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In summary, one could have good reasons to shop at stores like "Wholefoods" or to buy other items that are labelled "organic", but it has little to do with whether they are "more organic" than the alternatives.

I have an Objectivist friend who is a connoisseur and into cooking very high quality, gourmet food. He in now way buys into the environmental nonsense. He told me that if you want really high quality vegetables these days they will almost always be organic simply because of economics of specialty products in general.

Conventional produce is more or less mass produced for a mass market. Extremely high quality produce needs more attention which means that it can only be produced on a smaller scale - which is also the case with organic produce. Furthermore, because organic produce costs more, in order to have a wider market appeal than just the hard-core hippie types, it needs to have some sort of appeal to justify the higher price.

One of the things that can impact a product's taste and desirability is the specific variety of the crop that is planted. Just go to any garden center and look at the many varieties of tomatoes, for example, that are available. Different varieties have different pros and cons. Some are more drought resistant, others are more disease resistant while others simply taste better.

Farmers pick the variety they plant based on a number of factors - and the ability of the plant to produce lots of product that will last long enough to get to market is very important and may win out over taste for farmers who sell their products through mass market channels. On the other hand, if you are a farmer and you are selling your product to a much smaller, more quality conscious market and you plan on giving your crop lots of extra attention anyway, then it might make more sense to plant a variety that tastes better despite the fact that it may not produce as high a yield and one has to be more alert for pests and such.

So, for that reason, it is simply a matter of good business sense for farmers to market the same product to both the hippie crowd who buy into the anti-pesticide and anti-fertilizer nonsense and to the gourmet crowd who simply wants produce that tastes better.

Personally, here in Texas, I buy my produce at a supermarket chain, Fiesta Mart, that primarily targets Mexicans - and we have LOTS of Mexicans here in Texas. Mexican housewives have never really taken to canned or frozen vegetables. They prefer to use fresh and they are VERY quality conscious in terms of taste but not too fussy about how pretty it looks. They are also very price conscious. So the chain I shop at features produce as a loss leader to draw Mexican shoppers in - much like other chains have specials on meat to draw people in. As a result, the produce is very inexpensive there. At the same time, however, it is much smaller. Peaches at the Fiesta Mart might be two inches in diameter rather than four inches in diameter at the national chains. But the price per pound is usually about 60 to 75 percent lower and tastes much better. The complaints of the Indian housewives that software nerd mentions are very much true - the overpriced produce at the national chains tastes like crap by comparison. It is produced to look pretty and is picked long before it has properly ripened so that it can make it to distant markets without spoilage.

Near my house is a gourmet-only supermarket chain store called Central Market that features an unbelievable variety of produce - it is not uncommon for them to have a dozen varieties of radish and two dozen varieties of apples. But their produce is expensive and, shockingly enough, the quality is sometimes so-so. Whole Foods, on the other hand, has produce that both looks pretty AND is usually of excellent quality. It better be at the prices they charge.

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I would never dream of buying anti-man foods from the local so-called "farmer's market", because it is extremely risky, also obscenely expensive.

I have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe defining "farmers market" would help.

When I was a kid, there was a HUGE farmer's market in downtown Dallas and consisted of several sheds which one could walk through. It was owned by the city and farmer could rent stalls for something like $5 per day. One of the sheds was reserved for produce dealers who purchased their products from wholesalers and from farms in Mexico. The other sheds were reserved for farmers who grew their own food.

The market was open 24 hours a day - the farmers used to sleep in the cabs of their trucks or bring along an RV. At about 3:00 in the morning, buyers for roadside produce stands and small grocery chains from up to several hundred miles away would come and buy produce in large quantities. Sometimes the farmers would stay only so long as it took to find a buyer who would buy all of their product at once and then go back to their farms. Others would stay all day and sell in smaller quantities hoping to get a better price per pound.

My parents used to go there every two weeks and we would buy half bushels of tomatos, bell peppers, peaches, cucumbers, melons, black-eyd peas etc. Usually we ended up having to throw some of it out due our not being able to finish it all before it spoiled. But even with the spoilage, the produce cost only a fraction of what supermarkets charged and was MUCH better because it was actually picked ripe unlike the tasteless stuff at most supermarkets. Quite frankly, it spoiled me. The stuff at regular supermarkets does not satisfy me at all and the prices are usually astronomical.

Alos, it wasn't just hippies that shopped there. There were lots of Mexicans, blacks, "rednecks," who, like my parents, were interested in getting quality produce at good prices as well as people from the more afflent parts of town wanting to get good quality before places such as Central Market and Whole Foods existed - and, yes, there were hippies too.

There is absolutely NO significant risk from buying produce from a farm or a farmer here in the USA any more than there is from buying it at the grocery store. The primary risk that exists with both comes from what the product has come in contact with. If someone along the way handles the produce with dirty hands - well, that can be a problem. But that person could be the shopper at the grocery store who picks up the item to sniff it and inspect it while shopping. Chances are if you are buying from a farmer the produce has been handled less. There <i>are</i> occasional outbreaks of food posioning due to produce - it is not limited to organic produce. Recently there was one with bagged spinach. There was also one a few years ago with conventionally grown cantalopes imported from Chile. One should wash ANY produce before consuming it.

If you go to third world countries, people are advised to avoid local produce or, at the very least, skin it before eathing it. But my understanding is this is due to organisms that may exist in the water that is used to irrigate it or might have been used to wash it. Such concerns really do not exist here in the USA. And while organic farmers do use manure as fertilizer, it is not the raw product but rather manure that has been composted, a process which involves lots of heat and kills off the organisms. If you go down to your local garden center, you can buy composted manure by the bag full - and it is perfectly safe to handle.

I have been to other "farmer's markets" that only had a handful of vendors. Sometimes they have been a tad bit expensive but I have yet to find any that were more expensive than the national chain stores and in most cases, the quality is much better.

Sadly, with regard to the farmer's market, the City of Dallas ruined a good thing. They decided to make it more "up-scale" and brought in specialty vendors that never took off. Then they "beautified" the area which resulted in reconstruction of the local streets and made it very difficult to get to. As a result, a good number of the customers and a lot of the farmers themselves were chased away. The market still exists - but it is only a shadow of its former self.

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Maybe defining "farmers market" would help.
It's an embarassing yuppie phenomenon, where hippies and hippie-yuppies congregate on Saturday mornings (sometime into the afternoon), they put up "Farmer's Market" banners, and sell junk from card tables. A lot of it is freaks selling "homemade" jams, high-fiber gummy muffins, candles, incense, jewelry, and also a certain dose of produce that they acquire at the local produce wholesaler. The principle is that if you put the label "farmer's" on it, it must be good.

Seattle used to have an actual farmer's market with goods produced by real farmers with personal acquaintance with dirt (which is what makes the name appropriate), but that was in the remote past; I've never been to Dallas, so I have no idea about your farmer's market. But it sounds like you're on the downhill side of the slippery slope.

Not that I mind buying tomatoes from a guy who bought them from a wholesaler -- the problem is, you can't tell whether the produce is diseased or not. Having physically separate sheds as in Dallas is a good way to distinguish the cases, and to remind people of the underlying reality.

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(like I said, there are some exceptions)

So, for that reason, it is simply a matter of good business sense for farmers to market the same product to both the hippie crowd who buy into the anti-pesticide and anti-fertilizer nonsense and to the gourmet crowd who simply wants produce that tastes better.

That is exactly what I was talking about. A good expert on this subject is Alton Brown, who hosts the show Good Eats, on the food network. He's explained it before in pretty much the same terms as Dismike, here. In addition to being a good show, Alton will help you sort out the low-volume-high-quality stuff from the hippie-dippie.

I have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe defining "farmers market" would help.

Near where I grew up, there was a "farmer's market," which was in front of an actual farm. You could walk out into the fields and hydroponic gardens and see what and how they were growing. It was a good source of great food and they never once used the label "organic."

But as David illustrates, not all "farmer's markets" are created equal.

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Not that I mind buying tomatoes from a guy who bought them from a wholesaler -- the problem is, you can't tell whether the produce is diseased or not.

But how on earth would you be able to tell if the produce at a supermarket or at a wholesaler is diseased or not? Bacteria is invisible and I can assure you that produce that has been sitting in a bin in a supermarket for any length of time is going to have been pawed by far more filthy and grubby hands than the produce you would find at markets such as you describe. Again, the key with any produce you buy from whatever source is to make sure to wash it before you eat it.

Is it possible to get sick from contaminated produce in the USA? Sure - but the odds of it happening are extremely remote. Your odds of getting food poisoning or some other disease from eating in even a very excellent restaurant are far more likely than from eating produce at even a third rate produce vendor.

Edited by Dismuke

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Is it possible to get sick from contaminated produce in the USA? Sure - but the odds of it happening are extremely remote. Your odds of getting food poisoning or some other disease from eating in even a very excellent restaurant are far more likely than from eating produce at even a third rate produce vendor.

...and one thing to note is that since "organic" food took off, the odds of this have gone up a bit. Enough so that they did warn about it in my wife's med school pathology classes. Here is an article about it from a source I trust: Consumerfreedom.com.

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