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July 23, 2005

Excuse me.... is this strawman organic?

Cookbook author Julie Powell writes an op-ed in the Times decrying the supposed gastronomic and class snobbery of those who buy organic food, finding herself "uncomfortable" in Whole Foods and "longing for the nonjudgemental aisles of low-end supermarkets".

While acknowledging that buying organic food is a reasonable and ethical if expensive choice, she claims that those who buy it are snobs, with this pivoting statement: "When you wed money to decency, you come perilously close to equating penury with immorality."

Well, no. (Going back to high school math-class logic, that's the inverse error, i.e. If buying organic food is good, then not buying organic food is not good. FALSE.)

I wonder if Powell has friends who cluck their tongues at her "Honduran family at the discount grocery" buying what they can afford. If so, she needs to get new friends. If she doesn't know real people who feel that way, she should stop making up bogus arguments to rail against.

Luckily, even organic food doesn't necessarily cost more than ordinary supermarket stuff: We have a "share" (that we then share with another couple) in a Community Supported Agriculture farm in Lincoln called The Food Project. You pay your money and get fresh organic vegetables for about five months: June through October. For our part it comes out to about $15-$20 a week for all the vegetables we can eat; for the amount of food it doesn't seem expensive to me. In addition, The Food Project (a non-profit) has programs for area youth, they give food to local shelters, and so forth. It's a good deal: good food, organic, very reasonable price, and a clear conscience -- clear even of pernicious foodie classism.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 08:59 AM in Random | Permalink


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You know, to "eat organic" you don't have to do it all at once. I grew up in a traditional home -- I don't know that I ever had dinner without meat, and food was purchased on the cheap, regardless of what sorts of hormones, etc. were in it.

I've tried to move away from that, but slowly since I don't have tons of disposable income. So, I've switched to soymilk in my cereal. We try to get free-range / hormone free eggs. I stop in at haymarket when I get the chance, although admitedly its not clear that those veggies are any more organic than Stop and Shops. I've also tried to eat less red meat, and less meat in general.

One doesn't have to "go organic" all at once. Make a few lifestyle changes at a time, and get used to them. Explore and experiment, try new recipies, and find the organics that you like the best -- and I'd bet that your new cooking experience will be tastier too!

I'm no organic hippy guy. But, I do worry about what additives are in my food, and their impact on my health. So, I'm doing a little something about it, and all the while finding new really tasty and healthy dishes to cook up.

Posted by: stomv | Jul 23, 2005 10:04:58 AM

I've heard that it's important with strawberries, because you can't wasg the pesticides off. of all the little seeds.

Posted by: Abby | Jul 23, 2005 11:27:20 AM

We joined a CSA here in Tyngsboro, Bear Hill Farm, and I agree - it's been fabulous.

And this lady needs a life.

Posted by: Lynne | Jul 25, 2005 9:19:29 AM

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