Archive for May 12th, 2009

By Richie Gerber

ProduceIt happens to me every time I go to a party or gathering with Julie. Someone always brings up some permutation of an issue regarding the alternative lifestyle in order to, “pick my brain”. I guess these issues are all over the media, making people wonder about them. That’s great. At a recent gathering I was surrounded by several couples that wanted my point of view. They wanted to know which produce, local or organic, was better for the environment. The discussion heated up very quickly as I realized I was being ambushed. They were all Local Yokels and I am an Organic Fanatic.

Being a highly trained orator and forensic debater I immediately started to shower them with personal attacks and insults spiced with profanities (only kidding). I have been outnumbered before in similar situations so this did not faze me one bit. Here is what I told them.

My view of the Local vs. Organic question is as follows: If the Local produce is Organic then it is a moot point. Local Organic produce is the best. Local Organic is a no brainer as the number one choice since it supports organic farmers in your local community as well as reduces the negative impact of toxic chemicals on the environment, farm workers and your family.

So that narrows the real argument to Local Conventional Produce vs. Organic. Here is “Richie Gerber’s” produce hierarchy from most desirable to least:

 1. Local Organic= best

 2. Organic= great

 3. Local Conventional= avoid

Pretty simple. In my opinion the position for Local is very myopic. Its highest and best value is the reduction of greenhouse gases because of the reduced transportation impact on shipping the produce. It has less of a carbon footprint than Organic produce trucked in from other places. Reducing the carbon footprint is the most popular hot button environmental issue of the day. This is a valid point. I fully agree. But I have one caveat. Since EVERYTHING has consequences, we need to determine what, if any, consequences Local has. In my humble opinion: many. First off, this carbon footprint thing is a trade off issue that has other consequences, which I will explain shortly. On the other hand Local earns bonus points for supporting neighbors and local farmers. This is a very big deal so that it a big plus.

Remember, EVERYTHING has consequences. Local Conventional farming relies heavily on cides. I say, don’t take cides, eating Herbicides, Pesticides, Insecticides and Fungicides is committing suiricide. Don’t Take Cides. All these cides leave their everlasting residue on our land, in our rivers, in our streams and in our bodies! If that’s not enough, the Local produce could be grown from seed altered with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). And if that is not enough to freak you out get this one. Drum roll please. The produce could be irradiated!!! Watch Out, that tomato you are about to eat is a pesticide ladened, gene spliced nuked nightshade. I admit this is extreme but it is definite that some of the above has happened to your tomato.

Earlier I gave Local produce bonus points for supporting neighbors and local farmers, a huge and noble act. Here is where we part ways. I think health is the highest and greatest issue. Health overrides everything. Your family’s health, farm workers health and the health of our planet trump everything. Everything.

 All the gains from reducing the carbon footprint for Local are totally washed out with the horrible chemical residues damaging our environment and the health of the people who eat these products. I should throw in the exposure of these toxic chemicals on the agricultural workers as well. Toxic chemical residues on our food as well as runoff into our streams and lakes are a cause for alarm. Children are more susceptible to the dangers lurking in chemical produce. I finished up with my usual over the top inflammatory statement to nail my point.  “I would rather give up a few feet of glacier in the ant-arctic than feed my kid poison for dinner tonight”.

You can probably imagine that I was the most popular person at the party. I know it is a crude statement but it does crystallize this argument as well as personalize it. Questions and discussion flowed back and forth after I expressed my unconventional point of view. Everyone was shaken out of their comfort zone and now had more information to think about. I also wanted everyone to understand that I did not want to throw the Local farmers under the bus. I explained to the partiers the need to educate our Local farmers on the benefits of Organic agriculture. Help them cut off their dependence on chemical agriculture. Show them safer methods of farming from their agricultural extension service or other agencies involved in alternative agricultural methods. Help them become part of the solution.

Epp-Bee-Log: EVERYTHING has consequences. This is not a black or white issue. Even though global warming might be helped, adding more toxic chemicals to the world is not a sustainable solution. So, as I said before, I will gladly say again, don’t take cides, eating Herbicides, Pesticides, Insecticides and Fungicides is committing suicide. Don’t Take Cides!!!

So count me in on the Organic Side.



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