Monday, March 05, 2007

Recent Readings

In the latest issue of Bust, both Gwen Stefani and Lily Allen refuse to come out and describe themselves as feminists. Gwen says she needs a definition first. I hate that cop-out answer. I guess women say that because they're afraid people will think they're man-hating, militant bra-burners. That misconception is about as tired and destructive as you can get. I've had to convince so many women that if they believe that a.) there should be equal pay and treatment between the sexes, and b.) organized effort to work towards those goals is necessary..then SURPRISE, they're feminists! It's just that simple! So to hear two women who are very much in the public eye shy away from that label depresses and frustrates me.

This is another interesting article about Arkansas's former governor, Mike Huckabee, who is now running for president. He seems to be gaining popularity and although he sure can talk a good talk, I don't want him in that seat of power. I don't think he would make the entire world hate us like George W. Bush has done, but I'd be worried about the increase of morality-based legislation. I think he's done some sketchy things as governor and I don't trust him. That said, I have personally benefitted from his ARKids First child health-insurance program and think he's done some good things in terms of promoting health in our public schools.

Speaking of health, I was very interested in this article in Time about the local vs. organic debate. I have been wrestling with this for some time myself. Is it better to eat a local product or an organic product from far away? I guess it depends on what one might mean by "better." We're very lucky in Fayetteville to have a large, successful farmers' market that sells many local AND organic products, but the market is closed during the winter. Our health food store always mentions when a product is local, which helps, but unless I wanted to survive on herbs and potatoes during the winter, at some point I'll have to resolve this issue. Maybe I should just feel grateful that my biggest food concern is whether or not to buy local or organic, instead of worrying about when and how I'll get my next meal.

7 comments:

5 of 9er said...

I need to read more. The Whole Foods chain has been getting a lot of criticism for not supporting local farmers like they use to... and these were local organic farmers.

Alannah said...

Another complaint I have is how expensive organic food is. Healthy food should not be a status symbol! The author of that Time article eventually concludes that local is better than organic, if a choice must be made and I agree with him.

MooreHaven Gardens said...

As an organic grower, I feel qualified to reply to 5/9 and alannah.
Whole Foods; Great concept, but the minute they went " big-time" they had to let go of "little business supporting the small farmer ". It's still in their over-all business plan, it just doesn't fit real well anymore. It's just business, can't really fault them.....but good luck supplying them unless you're large enough to do some serious organic veggie farming. And you'll notice Mr. Mackey had to admit that the "marketing local organic concept" had a few flaws. It's just business, and they're still providing an outlet for your food-buying dollars. Alannah; you struck one of my favorite nerves - the inflated cost of organic produce. Now understand that growing organic is like having a craftsman build your custom designed kitchen cabinets, we put a lot more effort into our finished product than a conventional row-cropper. And because of that fact, we are able to produce a higher "hands-on" quality, but not as much volume. Which means that if you want me to be here next season supplying you with fresh produce, I've got to charge you enough to make a living. But I don't think that is really what you are talking about. My guess is you're shopping in places that are "catering" to the people who see eating organic as a status symbol. You are correct in thinking your organic produce should cost you not much more than conventionally grown. But to do that you are going to have to get closer to the source, your local grower. My suggestion there would be to check out the website Local Harvest. Overall, the Times article was a good one, as was the Today Show plug that went with it, but alot of us growers are already laughing and saying "....well, duh!!...it's what we've been telling you for a long time now..."

Alannah said...

Moorehaven Gardens,

I so appreciate your detailed response. And yes, you're right to demand a slightly higher price for a quality product, and I'm more than willing to pay it...but I do believe some brands falsely inflate their prices to promote themselves as a "status symbol."

I already heavily utilize my farmers' market. I just discovered there is a CSA farm in my area and I plan to subscribe this summer. What else can I be doing?

Thanks again for your response.

moorehaven gardens said...

alannah, you are very correct in your observation in that some "organic brands" are over inflated..actually, I don't know of one that isn't...but the key to what you just said was "organic brands"....if it's got a "brand" on it, shy away from it if you can...if it's got an "organic" stamp on it...look twice...What we're really getting down to is just what the Time's article was pointing at...no longer are we in our grandparents world where the term organic ment fresh, nor can you survive/lead the lifestyle we're accustomed to eating stricktly locally grown...it's time to start the conversation on how to find a workable happy medium. Too much finger pointing is all that is getting done right now; from the organic elite who would tell you that if it wasn't regurgitated thru a cow first that it will kill you to the commercial growers that dump millions of pounds of good produce to drive pricing. The general public is so inudated with it's own selective hearing and half truths that it's no wonder you don't know where to turn for your next meal.And part of the problem is in your eating habits. Ask a school cook if she has time to prepare a home-style( pre-Korea War era ) cooked meal for a student's lunch and she'll laugh at you. Then she'll ask you where she can even hire anybody with those skills anymore. Ask the gal's you have coffee brunches with when was the last time they canned enough to last them thru the winter. Ask the kitchen administrator of your parent's nursing home if they have any storage space allocated for long term cool storage of locally grown produce that they could stock up on when in season. Do you know anybody that is teaching their daughter to can and/or make preserves? These questions that I ask you, should you choose to actually pursue them, will cause you to dig even deeper into the social/economic dynamics of the "bigger picture". As it stands now, the public is only hearing the "squeeky wheels". As to CSA's, Farmer's Mkt.s,Pik-U're-Own's, ect.,ect....even those all have their failings. As consumer's in a Me/Now society, we've created the system that we now regret. Look even farther down the road, mark my words, as the Local vs. Organic debate plays out, next you have to start questioning why if it's organic, and fit's within whatever criteria "local" will mean, why is it packaged in virgin plastic resin when there are biodegradeable renewable alternatives made from corn (just to name one). Ask if there is any real benifit to buying from a CSA or at a Farmer's Mkt. if the grower had to drive 6 hours to get it there just so he could tap into a better paying market area. Demographics play a large role in the profitability of my business. And I wanna kick one more dog while I'm at it; the hippies didn't start the farmer's markets in this country.The concept came over with the Pilgrams. I know, I know...that last comment was off subject, but it's just another one of those half-truths that's gotten so much attention that pisses me off. Ahhhhh...I feel so much better now....so in parting, until the dirt gets warm enough to plant this year's seed here on my hilltop, I look forward to continuing this dialogue for the entertainment of all those that would follow it.Thanks.

Alannah said...

I am thinking about a response to this. I'll get back to you when my nervous breakdown is over.

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