Don't know why this should shock anybody. The synthetic chemicals industry has been fully supported for 50 years by every government agency from USDA to EPA to the Commerce Department---all tacitly in cahoots to help Monsanto achieve world agricultural domination.
Now the first lady comes along and dumb slaps them all across the face.
Good for her! I say. But I don't expect the agri-chemicals industry to roll over and play dead. Nor do think her garden will make any realistic changes in the global agricultural structure.
If Mrs. Obama's vegetable garden encourages others to grow more of their own food, then she's doing everyone a big favor and leading by example. If the garden is grown using organic techniques, then it's safer for everyone who works it, plays in it, sits next to it.
Anyone taking offense at her actions speaks volumes about their selfish motivations and shows that her actions are the more noble.
On a lighter note, have you ever read "The $64 Tomato?"
I think the "local/homegrown" message she is conveying is more important than the organic aspect. Most of the organic produce you see in the supermarket is grown by large agribusiness just like the non-organic stuff. In my opinion, convincing people just to go organic really doesn't address a lot of the issues surrounding how our food is grown, transported, and marketed.
I agree, KCZ, that both those aspects are important, and I think it's great for the children as a learning experience. I hope that it will encourage at least a few more families to do the same. I'm looking forward to sharing gardening with my kids this year, or (if they don't want to do some of the work growing things) at least the fruits of it.
The whole organic thing is a crock. It gives the manufacturers the right to overcharge and gouge the public. MY opinion is ,eat a well balanced diet of protein, fruits and veges. Exersise,Avoid excess sugars and salts and you will be fine.
The value of organic is not just in the food produced (which can be debatable), but in the benefits to long term environmental sustainability and safety for farm workers (and gardeners).
In many cases farm workers who speak little English are required to apply pesticides, herbicides, soil enhancers and such without proper instruction and safety protection. Imagine a farm worker with only shorts and shoes on spreading pesticide with no face mask or protection to their exposed skin. They are inhaling all those poisons and getting it all over themselves. They have little opportunity to wash it off even before eating meals. This is an especially dangerous scenario on tea plantations where children are often used as workers.
If you are a tea drinker, be warned. In 99 cases of 100, the only time herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides are washed from the tea is when you pour water over it in your cup or teapot. Same goes for coffee, but to a lesser degree.
Well, Ed, once again you're making ex officio pronouncements without understanding the subject.
There is no "whole organic thing." There are various interested parties, in the "organic thing", each with it's own agenda and set of goals.
There are gardeners, for instance, who use organic methods for a whole list of reasons, ranging from seeing themselves as stewards of the land to growing healthier produce. Primarily, this group uses organic methods because they're tired of having themselves and their families poisioned by "chemicals." They tend to grow heirlooms, because they're interested in vegetables with flavor (and, in some cases, have a political antipathy to hybrids as well).
A subset of this group are consumers who do not grow their own, but who make a point of purchasing organically grown fruits and vegetables (and, to a growing extent, meat proteins). Their point of view often parallels, but isn't necessarily in lock step, with those who grow their own. When feasible, this group is more likely to shop at farmers markets and to join CSAs rather than shop at supermarkets. And there is a greater tendency for this group to be typified as "liberal" and "activist," than those who grow their own.
There are the small, diverse market growers, who kept the organics message alive until it became a mainstream trend, and who most of us think of when the very word organic is used. They have a greater tendency to grow heirlooms and other open pollinated varieties, and market locally. Their produce is picked when ripe and delivered almost immediately after picking. Their prices are often higher because their production costs are higher. But the same can often be said about any direct grower-to-consumer farmer.
Many of these cannot even legally call themselves organic growers anymore, because they cannot afford either the time to do the paperwork, or the cost of inspections, mandated by the federal government. The rules, you see, were essentially written by Monsanto and it's clones, and are designed to support the factory farms to the detriment of the true organic grower.
Then there is the organic produce you see in the supermarkets. Despite the implication that this is somehow different than the conventionally grown stuff, it is produced by the organics divisions of the same factory farms producing the other crap. They use essentially the same mono-cultural factory farming systems, grow the exact same varieties (almost always hybrids with little taste), and use precisely the same food storage and distribution system. Their prices are always higher (even though their production costs are lower) for no other reason than they can get away with charging more. This is the only part of the organics rubric that even comes close to your "It gives the manufacturers the right to overcharge and gouge the public."
Are the factory farms overcharging for their organic production? No question. But they don't have a "right" to do that. Anybody who doesn't like those prices is perfectly free to not buy the stuff. It's called dollar-voting, Ed, and is a fundemental part of our free enterprise system.
As with anything else, you have the right to choose. You can choose to eat organic produce, or choose not to. But if you're going to get on a soapbox about it, it behooves you to learn a little about the subject first. Something you obviously haven't bothered to do.
>If Mrs. Obama's vegetable garden encourages others to grow more of their own food, then she's doing everyone a big favor and leading by example.<
HappyFood, if her garden serves as a way to teach people that they can grow wholesome veggies without expensive (and potentially dangerous) synthetic chemicals, than she'll have, indeed, done the country a big favor.
I doubt, however, that she'll actually encourage others to grow more of their own food. The economic climate is taking care of that all by itself.
Anytime there is economic uncertainty, the number of people who grow all or part of their own food goes up exponentially. You may have noticed, for instance, the greater number of seeds and gardening supplies available everywhere; and the number of TV ads for gardening related products (many of which are shucks, it's true), etc. That's because the folks who produce such things were already aware that gardening would explode this year.
I've seen it myself, with the incredible increase in folks calling me about buying heirloom seed. And with the numbers who appear at any of my gardening and heirlooms seminars and presentations.
But it's not a new phenomanon. Home gardening has been an economic trailing indicator for a long, long time.
I have to agree with you Ed, techinically it should be cheaper to grow "organic" foods, you dont need the pesticides to make them grow and we are being charged for filing and paperwork. Its a way for smaller farms to make a greater profit. If ppl were just smart about what they ate we wouldnt have the problems we have today with obesity.
What really makes me laugh with the idea of organic is that many vegetables are cross pollentated and when this happens it happens across farms that may or maynot be "organic". This means that the non organic has now pollenated the organic and thus contaminating it. What about the water table? Most farms draw from the same water table thus watering nonorganic water to organic farms. To me the organic, GMO and IP arguments are about making more money which makes most farmers no better than the crooks who are constantly changing the rules...
Saying that plowing a 200 acre farm by hand, which is rediculous, is what they do than they should find a better more effective way, like a small combine or tractor with a tiller on the back.
Cross pollination and water tables is 1/2 the arguement for growing organic. If you have 2 farms across the road from each other and one is organic and one isnt than the one that isnt is infecting and fertilizing the organic one without doing it knowingly via the water they use, its from the same place unless they use potable water, and via the pollination of crops. Taking pollen from one feild and taking it to another while they are growiing.
Its more expensive because the farmer feels that they need to be one with the earth and do it by hand, hence my reason in the begining. Get caught up with the times and make it more effeceint, hence making it more cost effective. We already "bailout" farmers that are efficeint in the way they grow, soon we are going to have to bail out the in effecient ones, like the car companies. Streamline the process and bring it back inline and ppl will buy it regularly. In todays economy who can afford to pay $.97 for a pound of organic banana's when regular ones are $.49 and look exactly the same?
Nobody said you had to ship it across the country, I regularly go to the farmers market, almost weekly and buy my produce locally and seasonally from the farmers there. Most will tell you that it isnt Organic but its as chemically free as it can be and is sold at a reasonable price.
>via the water they use, its from the same place <
Chefhow, if this is indeed true, then you are saying that the conventional farm has contaminated the water table with its use of synthetic chemicals. Your argument is therefore an admission that conventional farming poisons the environment.
Putting aside the public health issues that infers, it's also a good argument for using organic methods.
And how do you justify something being a poison when it's in the water, but being safe and beneficial when it coats your tomatoes?
And for those who care about facts rather than emotional pronouncements and urban legends: the cross-contamination issue isn't about ground water. It's about run-off. What happens when a conventional farmer uphill waters his crops, and the chemical residue runs off into the fields of an organic grower?
This is a very real problem in the agricultural community right now.
>Its more expensive because the farmer feels that they need to be one with the earth and do it by hand, hence my reason in the begining. <
It would be nice if you didn't confuse back-to-the-land activists with real market growers.
I suggest that you visit a couple of organic farms---both small diverse ones, and the organic divisions of factory farms---and see how things are being done. It's obvious that you have no idea how things are grown in either case. I know all kinds of organic market growers, all across the country. Every one of them owns tractors, and cultivators, and all the other necessary accountrements of market growing. If you're impressed with equipment you need to check out the self-propelled, multi-row vacumns used by the factory farms to "control" insect pests. Talk about gee-whiz technology! But it sure ain't doing things by hand.
It's bad enough that the average consumer has no idea where his food comes from or how it gets to the market. It's positively scary when a so-called professional is equally in the dark.
There are all sorts of reasons why produce grown on diverse organic farms is more expensive to produce, none of which include doing things as if we were back in the early 19th century.
>.....and via the pollination of crops. Taking pollen from one field and taking it to another while they are growiing.<
Here, again, you demonstrate ignorance of agricultural issues. Trans-genetic cross-pollination is an issue involving GMOs and conventional crops. It has little to do with organic vs non-organic---which refers to growing methods, not what's being grown.
It's potentially a very big deal, Yeti. Not so much because of the organics, but because of the message it sends.
For 60 years we've been steadily moving towards controlled agriculture. Hybrids were the opening salvo (who controls the seed controls the feed, doncha see), and, so far, the culmination has been the agricultural imperialism of GMOs. To the point whereby Monsanto could actually realize its goal of dominating world agriculture.
No effort has been too large or too small for Monsanto to take a hand in self-protection. Did you know, for instance, that it is virtually illegal for an heirloom seed collector to import a packet of seed from other countries?
All of this has been with both the tacit and active support of virtually every government agency, ranging from USDA and the EPA, to Commerce and even Immigration.
Now comes the First Lady who tells the world the official White House garden is going to throw that support away. That organics, and open pollinated varieites, and sustainability are actually the way to go. That message is 180 degrees from the one that the government has been sending until now.
If the White House garden was, indeed, a major personal issue for Mrs. Obama, it would have grave repurcussions for the agri-chemical industry. And it's very aware of it. Which is why it reacted the way it did. And will always react that way over any perceived threat to its control of what we eat.