Organic vs. Zero Food Miles

Based on targeted marketing and the preach of pro-environment organizations, we all know that eating organic and local foods are important for the health of our ecosystem as well as our intestines… But in the battle between local and organic, which is ultimately a more important philosophy to follow??

Let us create a hypothetical situation: I am at the grocery store, and I see a tantalizing mountain of organic cherries imported from Michigan. I think to myself “Oh good, I am going to buy these cherries because paying the extra $3 is worth it to help the environment and to evade Parkinson’s from pesticide ingestion!”

…..But wait, right next to the pile of organic cherries is another pile of cherries grown in a non-organic farm just a few miles from my house. Automatically one might think “No, these are not organic and the organic man would be mad if he knew I had the option to purchase the ‘better’ choice and I didn’t because I found a less expensive option”

Although the cherries grown miles from your house are not organic, they are local, which means the amount of fuel used to transport them to your grocery store was much lower than those flown in from Michigan. It seems that buying non-local organic vegetables kind of contradicts the purpose of buying organic and supporting the environmental movement in the first place.

So I ask my readers, what do you think is more important when buying produce? Local or Organic?

(of course if something is both local AND organic you find yourself in an ideal situation, though this is not always the case)

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“Lazy Foods”: Conveniently Inconvenient

Just came across this really interesting and incredibly relevant article on BBC news about the rise in popularity of “lazy foods” in the UK (and most likely US) market.. Lazy foods like peeled carrots, potatoes, pre-packaged lettuce, etc make life easy for those on the go… but could it have social, cultural and environmental consequences??

Take a look at the article, I thought it was pretty interesting.

What do you think?

Do you think lazy foods are detrimental to the taste of the product in it’s original form?

Are we becoming too distanced from the cultivation and natural processes of the foods we eat because of the rise in these convenience items??

Food Inc: Robert Kenner’s Eye-Opening Documentary

Food Inc., directed by filmmaker Robert Kenner, is a truly astonishing documentary about the hidden truths of the food industry, and how these big businesses shield American consumers from the ugly inedible face of the foods we have come to love.

Browsing through the New York Times, I came across an article mentioned that this documentary. Interested to see a new food politics documentary, I went and looked up the trailer on YouTube…which I have conveniently embedded for your viewing pleasure:

The documentary has not been released yet, but for those of you readers in the Orange County/LA area, there will be a screening of Food Inc. at the Newport Beach Film Festival between April 30th and May 7th. To find another screening near you, please visit http://www.takepart.com/foodinc/screenings.php

I strongly recommend checking this one out. I’ll be at the Newport Beach Film Festival eagerly waiting to see it.

Bill HR 875: The Patriot Act of Food


While it may seem that my arguement below is skewed to the left and based simply upon liberalist banter, I must stress that my conclusions are based off of what I read in the actual text of the Bill.

To be more specific, I suggest you read over the following sections:

  • Section 201: Administration of National Program
  • Section 401: Prohibited Acts
  • Section 403: Notification and Recall
  • Section 405: Civil and Criminal Penalties
  • Section 506: Regulations

In my humble opinion, after reading over this bill, the establishment of Food Safety Administration seems like a small death to civil liberties. The administrationwill have the power to determine what food passes regulation standards based on very broad (and some arbitrary) guidelines left up to the determination of the the ADMINISTRATOR (dun dun dunnnnnnnnn)

The motivation behind this bill is to keep our food safe and out of the hands of contamination and bioterrorists. Though (if passed) this might prevent the occasional tomato and peanut scare, it seems like more wasted funding for another one of our government’s anti-terrorist moves that will do nothing more than infringe on our rights as citizens.

Anyone remember the Patriot Act? Well, more than anything else this seems like the beginning of government intervention into multiple realms of domestic life, a change none of us were hoping for.

Obama, you might want to get your wife’s organic garden at the White House approved. Those veggies could be lethal.

New food in a Crap-ola Economy

Sitting in class I began to think about our continously deteriorating economy… Are we on the brink of breadlines? Probably not… but what is the priority of preserving environmentally sound food systems in the hellish economy we now face?

In my opinion, developing a palate for the push away from GMO foods would actually probably save  us money in the longrun, devoting more funding towards the exploration/development of food systems that benefit our wallets and stomachs.

What do you think? Is there/should there be space for focus on food in the world economy at this point? or are industrialized food sources here to stay and grow to even more astronomically large and monopolized levels?

Also, with Obama as the supposed Messiah of the world, do you really think he will do much to save the current state of our national health and food mentality, or are we (for lack of a better phrase) Gastronomically screwed?

There is so much potential for new jobs to be created in these fields, it is just a matter of motivation and strength of knowledge within the global market. (both by consumers and producers)

DISCUSS!

The Slow Food Movement: A Break from life in the fast lane.

So I’ve been using this term ‘slow food’ as my basis for talking about a lot of the ideas on this site. What exactly is slow food? And why is it so important to me? Well, The Slow Food Movement was started by an Italian man named Carlo Petrini in Italy to combat fast food. Some of the ideas the movement promotes are eating locally, preserving local culinary traditions/recipes, sustainable farming, ethical treatment of agriculture, animals, and farm workers, and most of all, acheiving immense gastronomical pleasure. The organization was started in Italy, however; now it has over 83,000 members (including myself) in over 122 countries worldwide.

In a world where convenience and speed are highly valued, we, as a global society, have lost touch with the true pleasures of the Earth; succumbing to the Fast Life and leaving very little time to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Life is too short to rush through things.

Through education about taste and local foods, we can learn to recognize what is truly good and where it can be found. As we become more educated about these topics, no longer do we need to rely on fast food (in the broad sense) to fulfill our gastronomical desires. According to the Slow Food Movement, it is time to rediscover our surroundings, one bite at a time.

From his book, Slow Food Nation, Carlo Petrini writes,

“Drawing on [the gastronome’s] long experience in the quest for the good, for culinary pleasure, he discovers that there is also a different world of production and consumption, parallel to the currently dominant one, which contains the seeds of a better global system.”

“At one point in our history, gastronomical pleasure was considered a reservation for the high cultured wealthy class; however, now this quest for good, clean, and fair food is the very basis of our survival. All people, from every socio-economic class, deserve to eat the healthiest, most pleasureable food possible.

We must join together as a society eat our way to culinary enlightenment, and break our addiction to the draining, fast-paced, and bland world we have accepted for too long.

I read the book and it totally changed my perspective on the realities and dangers of the industrialized food business. By getting informed I was able to re-evaluate my habits, and join with others to help promote a better future, both for myself, the environment, and my grumbling stomach.
Check it out, it makes a really interesting read.

YOU can buy the book from the Grassroots Gourmet Store! Conveniently located on the links section to the left!

And thus begins a new Category on the blog, “Slow Food”. As a Slow Food USA member, very exclusive (HAHA), I attend various events/lectures about current trends and whatnot in the Slow Food culture. Through me, you all can vicariously be a part of the fun. Updates about these events and Slow Food info will be added occassionally to this category.


 

Pesticides! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “What’s the deal with always having to compulsively wash your produce? What harm is a little dirt going to do?”

Well my friends, if you buy non-organic produce, and are unafraid of the harmless “dirt” that might be lingering, you might want to think again…

While the long term effects of pesticide consumption are unknown, studies that are being conducted have confirmed some pretty alarming findings, especially with regard to children.

Here is some of the current data:

Despite consistent support from empirical studies that suggest even low level consumption of pesticides creates a hazardous health concern, the EPA ultimately has the power to determine what level of pesticide consumption is considered safe, and A-O.K. for us to put into our bodies. The “safety” level of these various pesticides is determined by the amount used on an entire crop, how much of the pesticide is retained on the fruit after washing, and the effects on lab animals after exposure to a single pesticide. What hasn’t been considered however, are the effects of multiple pesticides on the body when consumed, and how these pesticides will affect HUMANSSSSSSSS. oy.

Well, to give a little insight, the average life span of a migrant farm worker is 47 years…why might that be?

Why, then, are pesticides continually used by commercial growers if they are statistically proven to be harmful for human consumption? All commercially cultivated produce uses pesticides as a way to keep away insects from the yield, making the produce more steadily successful… In more plain terms $$$!

The following graph might add some perspective to the severity of this situation. Everyone is being effected.

Pesticide percentages of vegetables in the common supermarket.
Pesticide percentages of vegetables in the common supermarket.

What can You do??!

Although maintaining an all-organic diet is the best way to steer clear of these dangerous chemicals, sometimes it is difficult for everyone to consistently maintain this kind of lifestyle. After all, the produce section of the supermarket is fast, cheap, and convenient.

If you are going to continue to buy the commercially available stuff, at least be informed of the level of crap-ola you’re allowing yourself to consume. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit research organization devoted to promoting public health, has comprised a list of the produce that contains the highest and lowest levels of pesticides.

Lets start with the Winners cup! (Scoring lowest on the pesticide scale)

Congrats Avocado and Onion, you make a mamma proud.

However,

Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Imported Grapes, Celery, Lettuce, Pears, Cherries, Nectarines, Strawberries, Spinach, Potatoes, etc. all had alarmingly high levels of pesticides, even when washed.

For more information, please visit www.ewg.org

How nice, we’re now living in a world where we must even fear our fruit!