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View Diary: So You Still Think You Can't Afford Organic Food (103 comments)

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  •  Feeling good is what it is all about (2+ / 0-)
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    chuco35, CSI Bentonville

    People are buying organic food without a body of evidence showing tangible benefits to the consumer. Critics of organic food seem to care a lot about the availability of that evidence, but consumers of organic food act indifferent. Why is that?

    I'd say that it is because the critics simply don't get it. That would explain comments like, "you shouldn't be able to buy the product that you value because I don't understand why you are buying it." Feinman's comment is a variant of this sentiment.

    The cynical description in the original write-up may be the most persuasive to this group of critics. Organic products bring tangible benefits of a nature similar to name-brand golf clubs, big screen television sets, Nike basketball sneakers, body-care products, iPods, & SUVs.  A less cynical thought is that organic consumers value altruism and collective benefit. I know some outspoken critics who simply cannot comprehend those concepts, and dismiss them with terms such as "feel-good idea".

    •  wait a minute, it's not true that there's no body (1+ / 0-)
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      CSI Bentonville

      of evidence showing tangible benefits to the consumer.

      my god, man, taste the stuff! there's a body of evidence for you right there. Me, I believe my own tastebuds, more than whatever talking point this is that organic is "just a feel-good issue".

      just go ahead and taste organic strawberries, carrots, apples, celery, potatoes. I mean, really, organic potatoes are amazing, and even supermarket organic celery is much tastier than its conventional equivalent. organic celery and potatoes aren't any more seasonal or "freshly picked" than non-organic, and they still taste much better.

      oh yes, and there's plenty of studies showing increased nutrition of organically grown produce; here's the link I already posted, just for a start.

      •  Tasty feels good! (0+ / 0-)

        Subtlety is a little tricky in this medium, so let me try again.

        My point is that "feel-good" isn't a silly thing, as organic critics often argue. For instance Fineman wanted data on "tangible benefits" like improved nutrition. Taste, in that context, simply makes you feel good.

        Taste, of course, is a primary driver of added value in food. People seek out good food because the taste. We are willing to spend a lot of money on ingredients, cookware and kitchens, restaurant meals, and travel to exotic places to get the reward of tasty food. There is nothing silly or frivolous about that. It is simply a manifestation of our humanity.

        I imagine folks at the Hudson Institute (a major source of anti-organic propaganda) thinking up ways to optimize nutritional needs in an ever-cheaper "shake". That would maximize those tangible benefits! At least for those who seek no pleasure.

        •  gotcha. but again I gotta play the gender card (0+ / 0-)

          here, only somebody who's never been in charge of getting nutrients into kids would consider "good taste" irrelevant to better nutrition.

          buy 6 supermarket apples -- they're dry, they've got thick skins, they're mealy, they're dull looking unless they're waxed up. They sit in the bowl forever, unless you peel them, cut them up, and douse them with sugar.

          buy 4 organic apples, sweet juicy crunchy appealing to look at, the kids eat 'em. Tangible nutritional benefits? You bet.

    •  You know what really riles me about your post? (0+ / 0-)

      Is that people in far larger numbers are buying conventional food despite a body of evidence showing the harmful effects of it.

      Critics of organic food are quick to justify their own shopping habits buy dismissing those who choose differently.

      To do this critics repeat industry mantra much like we saw with cigarettes.

      Tobacco is not addictive [wink, wink]

      It's far more than feel-good.

      It's more than stewardship of the land, saving rural America, the independent farmer who happens to be our neighbor and fellow tax-payer.

      Far more than eco-systems and the circle of life with the unintended consequences of breaking those circles.

      Who here does not exist in the environment?

      Organic foods are better for us and not so long ago were what was conventionally grown until the end of WWII when the fertalizer companies needed a market for their bomb materials and pushed bigger, better crops on the farmer and the public.

      And a good deal of the foods pimped to us by corporations wouldn't be such a good deal if not for the subsidies which are now almost wholly dealt out to the largest players which makes the price of corn  and soy (genetically modified of course) viable to process into a range of products we should not ingest nor feed to animals -- who aren't meant to eat grains -- whether raised for food or not.

      We eat more soy and MSG (both mostly hidden under various names) than Asian countries and theirs is not patented Monsanto designer soy.

      But if we were to pay the true price of conventional food as it is produced today including the environmental damages and often illegal practices in hiring and many other costs passed on to the members of the community and country let alone from the subsidies, we would likely be paying far more for conventional foods at Wal-Mart than the best organic at Whole Foods.

      Holy Crap the food chain is so broken they are trying to push Genetically Modified Cows on us now to prop up the system and deal with the Mad Cow disease threat they put us at risk for to begin with, and hide from us through the use of lobbyists and well-placed but large campaign donations and favors.

      Hunger is a huge motivator to hold sway over vast crowds.

      When "they" control the food supply, what will "we" do?

      We need to put "them" out of the God Business before they destroy us all.

      Mais, la souris est en dessous la table, le chat est sur la chaise et le singe est... est... le singe est disparu! -- Eddie Izzard

      by CSI Bentonville on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 11:58:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read on (1+ / 0-)
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        CSI Bentonville

        You might want to read my post, not just the title.

        I interpret your comment to say that an important motivator for buying organic is to not be beholden to international agribusiness. I think that is a common sentiment among organic consumers. A value-driven decision like that is completely justified, in my view. We do it all the time with buying decisions. However, it is also the kind of thing that organic critics see as an intangible benefit.

        •  No no... I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

          I wasn't railing on you but the twisting of the idea by the critics. I'm sorry I didn't choose my words more carefully. This weekend has me rather short-tempered with false statements-of-fact from people that would be better caged as questions inviting communitication rather than starting with derision.

          I hope you can see by reading my post that I did indeed read your post and not just the title.

          What irritates me though is the idea that people who buy organic have to justify their buying habits when it should be those who are buying what is a relatively new process for food (last century) with the advent of Agri-business sprouted from War chemicals. Those who would make statements like Feinman does should be the ones questioning what they are being fed by the corporations.

          Mais, la souris est en dessous la table, le chat est sur la chaise et le singe est... est... le singe est disparu! -- Eddie Izzard

          by CSI Bentonville on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 02:10:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't use thir frame (0+ / 0-)

            They are working hard to reframe the debate by posing as hyper-rational, and framing human values as frivolous things to be ignored and belittled. The best response, from their perspective, is for organic proponents to get pissed and hysterical, while trying to justify their within the critics' frame.

            The better response is to argue within your own frame. The conclusion is often that the organic critics are the irrational ones. One can frame the issue as one of meeting consumer demand. "I'm the customer and this is what I want to buy." Generally producers try to understand--not judge--the motivations of the consumer. In that frame, the organic critics look as if they completely miss the fundamentals of capitalism. For agribusiness to argue against the tenets of capitalist success is dissonant to say the least.

            One can also frame the issue as one of reflecting moral values. It is in the interest of society to behave in a moral way, and organic production reflects moral choices that benefit society. That one is the critics' nightmare, the debate that they want to avoid even having.

            It is interesting that the National Organic Standard had provisions that directly reflect American moral values that motivate a lot of Kossacks.      
            We are empathetic; we care about people.    
            Be responsible.    
            Help, Don't Harm.
            Protect the powerless.

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