Betsy Hart x-rays the souls of people who buy organic produce, and scolds them for feeling unjustifiably "virtuous."
Buying organics is a simplistic, quick-fix path to self-satisfaction, you see. Achieving true moral excellence requires nobler and more thoughtful efforts (beating up on queers, for instance).
Hart's arguments are fairly standard, initially:
In "Rethinking Organics" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the doctor writes that while few things make people feel more "virtuous" than eating organic food, there's little evidence that they are either more nutritious or any safer for our bodies than traditionally grown produce with their fertilizers and pesticides.So people buy products in order to make themselves feel better, eh? I'm not sure why this is news, given that we live in a country whose president told us to go shopping after a massive terrorist attack.
Gee, you mean "organics" won't save the world after all?
Not surprisingly, Hart ignores issues like pesticide run-off, land use, climate effects, and so forth. If each mouthful of organic food doesn't directly reduce your personal risk of developing cancer, there's no conceivable reason to buy it.
I should pause here to mention how tired I am of conservatarian blowhards pretending that some virtually nonexistent belief constitutes an oppressive orthodoxy:
Frozen vegetables — yikes — will typically preserve their nutrients more than fresh ones, of whatever organic or nonorganic stripe. Like any other living thing, vegetables start to break down once they are no longer living.)Let this be a lesson to all those misguided souls who'd rather eat month-old carrots than frozen ones. (Don't count on organic farms to start selling frozen vegetables, though; it'd interfere with their pursuit of cheap grace.)
Next, we learn that organic produce is expensive. This would be an ideal place to discuss things like agricultural subsidies, antibiotic resistance, monoculture, pollution, the political clout of agribusiness, and so forth...but that'd distract readers from the main point, which is that people who buy organic food are stuck-up stickybeaks. Hart goes on to argue that if these modern Trimalchios insist on buying organic milk and eggs, they'll have less money left over for fruits and vegetables, and thus will end up in worse shape than before. It doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense to me, but she must know what she's talking about or they wouldn't have given her a radio show.
You know what the organic food movement is like, come to think of it? A religion!
But what most bothers me is that some of the claims of organic advocates almost resemble a crusade about saving family farms, and the environment and maybe next our souls by eating organic. Hence the slogan, "Think locally, act globally, buy organic."So she has heard of the environment, after all. But if you're expecting her to demolish the claim that organic farming has any environmental benefits, forget about it. It's sufficient to say, yet again, that people who believe such things are preening grandstanders who ought to be kicked:
It's so easy to think of organics — or, rather, feel about organics — as some kind of cure-all and inherently virtuous along with things like recycling. (Never mind if the newspapers we self-righteously lug to the bottom of the driveway typically sit in huge warehouses before they're finally burned or buried.) It's no fun to have to think through a cost-benefit analysis. That requires, well, thinking.On the other hand, it's sheer goddamn untrammeled bliss to be lectured about cost-benefit analysis by someone who believes that the price of conventional crops has something to do with their total cost of production.
After defending rationality by fixating on the haut-bourgeois filth who read and recycle newspapers, and recommending cost-benefit analysis while ignoring the political economy of agribusiness, Hart rejects smug, self-coddling consumerism by presenting it as her own ladder of perfection:
[I]n our culture, it's just easy, it just feels good ... to feel good.As you can see, Ms. Hart holds with Tertullian that "no soldier comes out to the campaign laden with luxuries, nor does he go to action from his comfortable chamber, but from the light and narrow tent, where every kind of hardness, roughness and unpleasantness must be put up with."
Well, this is one gal who "thinks" it's just fine to buy lots of cheap, luscious-looking produce from the conventionally-farmed-food aisles at the grocery. I'm thinking locally, all right. About what's best for my family.
I hope you'll be inspired by her example the next time you're tempted to take the Easy Way Out.