Monday, September 15, 2008

Wake Up Call

Take a look at who you are buying from when you purchase organic food in the supermarket. I promise it'll raise at least one eyebrow.

[SOURCE]

13 comments:

Tags said...

The words "organic" and "natural" are bought & paid for by the Walmarts of the world.

Mike Pardus said...

Beware- politically incindiary text to follow - do NOT READ IF YOU CAN'T TAKE A PUNCH!!!!


There are two ways to look at this - the "BAD" guys are perverting the "Good Guys" OR the market is driving the BAD guys into the "good zone". I'm betting that most of you would starve to death in 3 weeks if the food distribution chain seized up (I'd be out there with a rifle hunting weaklings if it meant feeding my daughter). When YOU are TOTALLY self sustainable and COMPLETELY "organic" (whatever THAT means), then you can bitch about Walmart selling organic to trailer residents...otherwise, it's just elitist, wannabe, crap....

I'm betting that most of you would consider yourselves "libertarians"...live up to your beliefs.

get hip - small steps...change from within...Adam Smith..invisible hand...let the market rule.

Jennie/Tikka said...

Well - I've got it a little easier, because of my location. Southern California is just 45 minutes from Central California - which is where most of the food is coming from. There are enough small farms up there to buy directly from at Farmer's Markets (which I have scoped out on my calendar to cover 5 out of 7 days of the week). The other 2 days I buy from one of two tiny markets in my city that are buying from the small farms - so, my conscience is relatively clear :)

Now, if the smaller farms get bought up THEN I'm in trouble.

Maura said...

When YOU are TOTALLY self sustainable and COMPLETELY "organic" (whatever THAT means), then you can bitch about Walmart selling organic to trailer residents...otherwise, it's just elitist, wannabe, crap....

Mike's point is so important it can't go without comment and back-up.

It's easy to forget that not everyone has access to farmer's markets and small, locally owned grocery stores, either because there aren't any within walking/driving/bus service distance, or because they're unaffordable. It's easy to preach about being self-sustainable and eating organic and locally grown food when you have the money, the space and the knowledge to do it.

I'd be out there with a rifle hunting weaklings if it meant feeding my daughter

Seriously. People need to feed their kids, y'all. (I don't even have kids and it didn't take anything for me to realize this.) If the "buy one get one free" specials at the Harris Teeter seem like a cynical ploy to bring in customers, please remember that it's also a way for customers to stretch their food budget. Some might be offended by chicken, beef or pork that's wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam plate, but for many people it's the only way they can afford meat.

I think Walmart is evil, too, but I long ago stopped judging people because they shop there. America is way past the point where its citizens can live entirely off the land. People do what they can, but also what they have to, to survive. It's a great idea and a wonderful dream, but I don't see it happening. Chain grocery stores are a permanent, useful part of our society and our economy.

I'm lucky enough to have a farmer's market and a small, locally owned grocery store close by. I use both regularly, and I have a small garden. But I also shop at Costco, and have been spotted buying "two for one" orange juice at an evil chain store.

And saying that Whole Foods is the only chain store you go to doesn't count. They're overpriced and have as much of a racket going as any other chain. It's like saying you only watch HBO.

Tags said...

My original comment about Walmart paying lobbyists to change the meaning of the hard-fought for labels "organic" and "natural" were not an indictment of the system.

Far from it. What we need is accountability for misrepresentation.

The USA has the best food distribution system in the world. Unfortunately, the Walmarts & agribiz giants of the world gummy game the system with lawyers & lobbyists.

For example, pomegranates are proven to be rich in antioxidants, but the food corporations buy them all up and neutralize a large part of this benefit by pasteurizing & concentrating them. That doesn't stop them from claiming the benefits of the fruit for their neutered juice.

Another example, Tastykake Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes have hydrogenated oil listed as the 3rd ingredient, but show 0 grams of trans fats on the "Nutrition Facts" box.

Jennie/Tikka said...

Something to remember here is this simple rule: If the price is low - so were the wages to the employee who had to produce it.

Yes, chain stores are producing "affordable" prices, and they do that by cutting wages and benefits to their employees who also have children (see Bill Moyers recent report on the largest chicken producers in the country). And every time we buy it we contribute to the mistreatment of the employees, their families, and the animals - making us guilty as well. But we'll turn our heads because our own kids got fed??

Their political contributions and falsified safety records protect them from Federal inspections.

In many cases, the people who produced that affordable chicken in the plastic wrap on the styrofoam can't afford to buy what they themselves butchered, for their own children.

So why are some people's children more important than others??

Elitest, my ass. I make small dinners at home and large dinners at a homeless shelter and it's not breaking anybody's wallet to buy from small producers.

Jennie/Tikka said...

Bill Moyers report:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06272008/profile.html

Jennie/Tikka said...

Every time - we accept dirt cheap prices, we are justifying some C.E.O.'s rationale that it's okay to keep our own, and others, wages low.

So, by all means - attack wages and bring them down even further; necessitating even further cheaper prices that are achieved by outsourcing to foreign countries, feel free.

Jennie/Tikka said...

http://www.localharvest.org/

Here's a comprehensive list of farmer's markets for the entire country. The site includes restaurants, markets, co-ops, that are all over the country and close to you. See if the prices are as high as you think they are.

Maura said...

Elitest, my ass. I make small dinners at home and large dinners at a homeless shelter and it's not breaking anybody's wallet to buy from small producers.

Jennie, don't you see the contradiction in that statement? You make dinners at a homeless shelter, meaning you are aware that there are people who can't afford to feed themselves, but you also think that buying from small producers, who often have to charge more just to survive, won't break anyone's wallet? Do you think that there's nothing between being financially comfortable and being homeless? If we have to pull out our "helping the less fortunate" cards, fine. I spent a few years working for a food bank (and by food bank, I mean essentially a clearing house for food donations that distributes that food to feeding programs like pantries and soup kitchens.) in Pennsylvania. I dealt with all the member agencies - pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters etc. I've been to enough food distributions to know that there are a lot of people out there who aren't homeless, but are constantly making decisions between paying bills and buying food. And they live in places where choices are minimal.

There's a good chance that the homeless shelter where you donate your time gets at least some of its food from a food bank. A large portion of that food is donated by large corporations. Do you really think the general public gives enough of a damn about the homeless that a shelter could survive on small, locally donated funds and food? If your homeless shelter doesn't get food from a food bank, it's one of the few.

In many cases, the people who produced that affordable chicken in the plastic wrap on the styrofoam can't afford to buy what they themselves butchered, for their own children.

I could just link to Ruhlman's blog post on farmer's markets, because I said the same thing there that I'm about to say here. But there's no need for diversion, I suppose.
Jennie, I assume you're aware of what locally produced, organic chicken costs? Where I live, a whole chicken at the farmer's market is $5/pound. It's cheap compared to what the beef and the pork cost, but it's very expensive compared to what I'd pay at any grocery store. A lot of the people who frequent our farmer's market can afford it. I can't, and neither can most of the people I know. Maybe I should hang out with a better class of people, so their financial comfort will rub off on me.

So why are some people's children more important than others??

Generally, I complain to anyone who will listen about the myopia of making decisions based solely on what's going on in your own family, with no regard to anyone else. But when it comes to feeding a family, it's not my place to judge. Whether someone can afford to feed their kids is a hard financial fact. If that means they have to shop at an Evil Walmart (I haven't stepped inside one in more than a decade), who am I to say they're wrong?

Like you, Jennie, I live in an area where there are a lot of choices - farmer's markets, little grocery stores, every big box store you can dream (or have nightmares) about, and chain stores. I am very, very lucky. I'm also painfully aware that not everyone has the same choices.

Maura said...

My original comment about Walmart paying lobbyists to change the meaning of the hard-fought for labels "organic" and "natural" were not an indictment of the system.

Far from it. What we need is accountability for misrepresentation.


No doubt about that, Tags. Even when they tell the truth, they misrepresent. A perfect example is Swanson's Chicken Broth. They now label it "MSG free", which can lead a consumer to think it's salt free. But it's not. It still contains 940 (or 960. I'm not sure) grams of salt per serving.

As for the Tasty-Kakes, the mislabeling is a problem. But when I want a Tasty-Kake, I find it best not to read the label. You'll have a stroke just from reading it, and won't have time to enjoy that wonderful treat. :)

Jennie/Tikka said...

Maura -

To answer your question, the shelter I donate my time to is 100% funded by the people in my community. There is zero involvement outside of that. Every single scrap of food donated is paid for - at retail prices - by the residents of the city I live in.

What I am "painfully aware" of is that you can't solve a problem with another problem. Rationalizing that you have fixed something by using something that caused a problem for someone else, is hardly a solution, by my definition. The entire problem has to be solved - not just half of it.

My husband and I make a decent income - but in all honesty it's less than a lot of other people we know. What makes us able to buy meat from a farmers market is not that we have squillions to spend, but that we have the self-discipline to not spend in some areas so we can afford something else.

We also made the very difficult decision that if we don't have the prospect of more income coming in in the future - maybe we should be mature and decide to not have children. We don't feel we are owed it just because we live in America. We also don't feel we are owed a humungous house, limitless spending, and a plasma t.v. either. We live by a strict budget. If something doesn't fit in the budget - we don't buy it, period. We have zero credit card debt.

We also don't feel we are owed meat every single day of the week, either. Though we can afford it, we realize that meats are supposed to be the side dish and not the main course. So we eat less of it and use what we buy well. I made dinner for two last week out of 1 single chicken breast, a carrot, some prosciutto, a small onion, and some red wine; hardly the "normal sized" American dinner portion for two. The rest was all salad and veggies so we can up our intake of things besides meats and carbs. We eat too much meat in this country, and not enough fresh fruit and veg. There are other sources of protein besides animals.

Marketing people and Advertisers have done a fabulous job in this country of making people feel cheated if they aren't fulfilling their every spontaneous purchasing desire at every moment.
That's gotten us into financial trouble in this country, big time.

I'll say it again: The problem is not how much the food costs - it is the wages that people are earning. It necessitates the need for bargain basement prices, which is exactly how cheap labor is justified.

I went through the basics of how economics work. You heard "Jennie wants children to starve." With all due respect, that's not even close to what I said.

And it isn't fresh chicken that parents are buying for their kids at Walmart - its the convenience products...processed chicken and chicken nuggets. They aren't preparing chicken piccata in most cases, which would actually be decent.

The poor have fewer choices.

But how did they become poor in the first place, that's my point. Who set their wages and how did they arrive at that figure - that's where most of the blame should be placed.

Maura said...

I went through the basics of how economics work. You heard "Jennie wants children to starve." With all due respect, that's not even close to what I said.

I didn't hear that and I didn't say that. Why would I think you want children to starve when you said this: "So why are some people's children more important than others??"

But how about I go on to what we agree on and the ways in which we're similar? My husband and I live much like you do, except that we don't have a decent income right now. No kids (although that wasn't a hard decision), small house, few possessions. And that's not just because we're poor at the moment. We've always lived that way.

I agree we eat too much meat, even though I'm a dedicated carnivore. Knowing how to stretch food, especially meat, is a talent, one that I've worked years to perfect. I impress myself with how much I can get out of a few veggies and a little bit of meat. :)

We eat too much food in general. So many Americans have one criterion for what makes a good meal - how big it is. My non-American friends are horrified by how much we eat.

Marketing people and Advertisers have done a fabulous job in this country of making people feel cheated if they aren't fulfilling their every spontaneous purchasing desire at every moment.
That's gotten us into financial trouble in this country, big time.


I couldn't agree more, Jennie. The way Americans spend money on things is gross. The way we're encouraged to spend money is even more gross. It's everyone's responsibility not to fall for the hype.

But I haven't been talking about people who have a reasonable income, live beyond their means and then shop at Walmart when there are other choices. I'm talking about people who are friggin' poor and have few to no choices about where they get their food. I'm friggin' poor, but I have lots of choices. I'm lucky enough to have a car, and two food stores within walking distance.

I know you can't solve a problem with another problem, but the situation for a good number of Americans just is what it is.