Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The lie of organic

There's been an E coli epidemic in the US. Packaged "organic", natural spinach has caused an E. coli outbreak.

You know what E. coli travels in? Shit. You know what organic veggies are fertilised with? Shit. Now, for a lot of things, using a slurry of potentially e coli laden shit as fertiliser doesn't really matter. E. coli is killed when food is cooked properly and you can get rid of a lot nasties on potato skins or similar by a good scrub down and proper cooking. But salad? Not the same thing. (I'm no food hygiene expert, but I'd bet that properly cooked spinach wouldn't have caused these problems).

A colleague of mine is big into the organic thing. I told her once: You want organic fruit* - like apples, fine by me. Generally, they don't taste any better and they're not any more nutritious, but they're not dangerous. If you want to pay more for nothing more than a status symbol and some kind of mental trickery that you're being healthy, that's fine by me. But organic leafy vegetables - I personally wouldn't touch them (unless I'd grown them myself fertilised with my own compost which contains no shit).

People, don't be taken in by the organic lie.

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*I can be as much of a foody as the next person. I don't think we should use more chemicals than we need to, am I'm very much into the idea of locally grown, picked-when-ready produce which is often more flavorful and more nutritious. Sometimes these are organic, sometimes not. Organic farmers sometimes also use older and more flavorsome varieties of fruit and veg which can mean that the end product is tastier, but it's to do with the variety rather than the organic status.

10 comments:

genderist said...

I had to explain to one of my city mouse coworkers today about how people use cow manure as fertilizer on the things that grow into food that you eat. She thought I was lying... :)

newscoma said...

Being that I live in west Tennessee, I can unequivocably tell you that fertilizer is, indeed, cow shit.
Mind if I use the word "foody" in the future. I found that most charming.

Vol Abroad said...

I should say that I think well-composted manure (i.e. last year's shit) is less of a danger, but with large scale "organic" agriculture they get in a hurry and use fresher shit which can prove dangerous.

Vol Abroad said...

Oh yes, and please feel free to use foody. It's not mine anyway, it's Britspeak for those who are snobby and particular about food.

genderist said...

What is Britspeak for the people who prefer last year's cow shit to the warmer, fresher shit of this season?

Debbie said...

We can't blame this on terrorists, or even on the illegal aliens, like a few weirdos wanted to do. Foody? I've learned a new word.

"John Galt" said...

And the farmer was explaining to the city couple that he put cow manure on his strawberries.

With a puzzled look the couple in unison said, "That's odd. We put sugar and cream on ours."

KathyF said...

Actually, we can blame this one on giant agri-business and the factory farms. This strain of eColi only grows in the stomachs of cows that have been fed an artificial diet of grain, rather than their natural diet of grass. Then the run-off from the waste ends up in the water supply, which is then used to irrigate crops, including crops eaten raw.

Shit fertilizer has nothing to do with it. Organics are much safer, generally, except when "organic" becomes agri-business too, and they irrigate with run off from factory farms.

Ghoti said...

Kathy, agri-business as opposed to what? Non-profit farmers?

Farming is a business. If it weren't, most of us would be stuck eating cabbage all winter long.

kathyF said...

The term "agri-business" is generally used to describe giant factory farms, including those which specialize in one crop, i.e. spinach. A huge percentage of spinach is grown in one valley in California, hence, the widespread nature of the current problem. They are more concerned about efficient crop production than they are about health, safety, or taste.