The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 May 2005

But it's, y'know, organic

Which may or may not mean much of anything:

In the United States ... the rules that define organic products are, literally, nonsensical, in that organic standards are process-based and have little to do with the actual characteristics of the product. Certifiers attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production standards and practices that meet the requirements of highly arbitrary regulations. Paradoxically, the presence of a detectable residue of a banned chemical alone does not constitute a violation of these regulations, as long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods. That's rather like saying that as long as your barber uses certain prescribed tools and lotions, your haircut is automatically of high quality.

Moreover, because organic farming is far less efficient than conventional farming, organic food costs more (to say nothing of requiring more and poorer- quality land put into farming), and the hype from markets like Whole Foods puts pressure on the less affluent to buy more expensive fruit and vegetables that may actually be of lower quality.

So says Lord Taverne of Pimlico, more familiarly Dick Taverne, author of The March of Unreason, which goes immediately on my list of Stuff To Read.

I do want to point out, though, that my experience with organic lettuce has been uniformly positive: it doesn't taste any better — I mean, we're talking lettuce here — but the two-dollar amorphous organic head inevitably lasts longer in the vegetable crisper than the 99-cent spheroid with the big brand name, and less of it winds up being thrown away for excess wilt.

(Via Matt Rosenberg.)

Posted at 9:49 AM to Worth a Fork