Europe Going "Bio" Manic

Feb 26th, 2008, 03:41 AM
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"You may think that is a good thing, until you end up paying $10/pound for chicken"

£5 for a pound of good meat would actually count as quite cheap here. But anyway I'd rather eat smaller amounts of good stuff rather than larger amounts of unhappy animals/birds kept in inhumane conditions and pumped full of chemicals.

The main problem here is that people have got used to food which is too cheap, and the farmers are the main sufferers.

I am now lucky enough to live near a good weekly farmers' market where I can buy all my meat, eggs, cheese and at least in the winter, all my vegetables ( all organic). Overall I find I don't spend any more as I'm planning the week's menus based on what I find there, and spending less time in the supermarket buying non-essentials.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 04:39 AM
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copper675: You have at least one supporter, here.

I think the whole organic this and free-range that is a bunch of unscientific hooey. The fact of the matter is that modern agricultural techniques like shuttle-breeding have already saved billions of lives. And, were the average consumer not an uninformed luddite, who believes everything that the local organic retailer tells them, they wouldn't be so afraid of technology. I just don't understand the paranoia that has arisen over scientists using modern scientific techniques to speed up natural processes that have been occuring for billions of years. Amazingly, few people will similarly turn down the latest, revolutionary cancer drug, because it isn't "natural".

The amount of misinformation on these sorts of topics is just staggering. I remember reading a newsletter from a restaurant I used to go to. In it, the chef had an article about sea salt. He talked about what he viewed as better taste and texture, which was nice. But, then he went onto some spiel about how iodized salt was of questionable value and how one shouldn't buy it, etc. This, despite the fact that iodized salt is a modern success story that has largely wiped out goitres in those areas where it is widespread. Iodine deficiency is also a leading cause of cretinism.

Indeed, my biggest concern about the whole "bio" movement isn't the fact that yuppies are deluded enough to waste money on foodstuffs that aren't objectively better, but that this unverified "organic is better" garbage will undo the truly amazing work that turned the tide against world hunger in the 60's and 70's. I've always liked this quote from the Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug:

"some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things".

What is even more distressing is that so much of the push in the Western World seems to be about buying one's way out of guilt. People feel guilty about global warming, so they spend 15% more to buy organic. They feel guilty about flying 5k miles on holiday to Thailand, so they buy carbon offsets. They feel guilty about driving to the grocery store that they buy a Prius. Nobody makes real sacrifices. And nobody really sits back to determine if the changes they are undertaking have any positive impact. Indeed, they have traded conspicuous consumption of mass-produced items for conspicuous consumption of artisanal/free-range/organic/green items, and then wear those things as a badge to prove how much better they are than everyone else. It kind of makes me a little ill.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 05:48 AM
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I would have to say that your extremism in the other direction makes me somewhat ill as well.
kerouac is online now  
Feb 26th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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A lady friend of mine is bio - bio everything and a vegetarian as well

Even the cigarettes she SMOKES are 'all natural'

As i tell her yeh 265 or whatever organic toxins
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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I have some mixed feelings about GM crops. Where you take a gene from one species of rice to help spread resistance to a rice pathogen to another strain, then that is just accelarating something that might occur naturally, then I have no problem with that.

When companies use similar techniques to introduce scorpion genes into Tomatoes, then I have an issue.

Similar to organic food, I just wish to know what is in it , and how it was produced so I can make decisions myself.
willit is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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kerouac- I don't think travelgourmet is completely against organic, but he (or she- sorry, I'm not sure of your gender!) is totally correct. Misinformation is a major problem, at least in the US organic foods movement. People are acting like sheep, buying organically labeled items without investigating any of the science behind any production method. Meanwhile, activists are attempting to make it more and more difficult for affordable meat to be produced. This is all well and good for those with money to burn, but since I come from a family that, in my younger days, made no more than $30K/year with 4 family members, we need to be aware that the costs are going to actually hurt people at some point.

caroline_edinburgh- Last I checked, $10/lb for chicken is an insane price. Not so for beef, but there is the species difference to account for, with differing production costs. Also, last I checked, chickens, even here in the US, are not 'pumped full of chemicals'- pressure from large chain groceries and restaurants has largely decreased what is used in the poultry industry- nevermind that the decrease causes a welfare issue for the chickens themselves.

Plus, the term for your theory on animals being unhappy is anthropomorphism, and it has no scientific basis. You are free to your opinions, but legal and production decisions really ought to be based on scientifically valid data, not someone's opinion.

travelgourmet and others- Thanks for the support

And this will be my last post on the subject- this does have very little to do with travel, after all. I'm just hoping that some people will read this and actually do some research of their own (and I don't mean going to an organic website, I mean real scientific papers) and come to a more informed decision. The entire world could use some real factual information for once, rather than emotion clouded over-reaction.
copper675 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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going Bio, articles in the UK press, now confirm that so called Bio products are just a big con, and a excuse to increase prices. A notable food writer says that the actual benifits from Bio produccts are less than normal produce.I must say that regards fruit in the uk the Bio fruit is much less attractive than its farmed competitor,usualy bruised and some what dirty.
scorpio76 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:41 AM
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In the States i think the term Organic is relatively ambiguous at times as there is no real control over what is labelled organic and a criteria

Perhaps some of the chemicals, growth hormones, etc. in meat and pesticides on fruit and veg and in the environment may in the future prove to be harmful so what we need is a Dept of Agriculture stringent grading criteria of what is really organic or free range or whatever.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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"In the States i think the term Organic is relatively ambiguous at times as there is no real control over what is labelled organic and a criteria"

Ummm... The USDA has had an organic labeling standard in place since 2002.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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yes but that label, according to my reading, often means nothing but is a cave in to large food companies.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:03 PM
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If Americans want to eat that stuff, that's fine with me. Just don't try to get me to eat it.

GM is coming to europe. one less thing for us to be smug about on this board. we'll need to find some new things. we can't be smug about fingerprinting visitors from other countries any more. that 'silly' smoking ban in american bars and pubs can no longer be scoffed at. and we're all overweight too so we can't be smug about that.

what are we going to do? oh, there's bush so we're ok for another year or so. if obama gets in we're really in trouble.
walkinaround is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:10 PM
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How many folks in the world have been saved from starvation by GM crops? quite a few i believe
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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"yes but that label, according to my reading, often means nothing but is a cave in to large food companies."

You asked for a governmentally-blessed label. You got one. As politics is a compromise, why would you not expect this to be a compromise as well? And it isn't like folks selling organic food (think Whole Foods) aren't getting rich, as well.

Personally, I don't see the need for governmental labeling. It might be seen as implying governmental endorsement of the idea that organic is better. And, it just isn't necessary - the Star-K kosher certification system works just fine for kosher food, so I don't see why a similar program can't work for organic food.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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putting the wolf in charge of the hen house you say?

But you're right - only an in-house organ to certify things up to a real organic standard would then let the consumers decide or not what to put in their bellies.

The in-house labeler would have to of course be subject to some objective oversight.

As of now i think to use cow manure on crops for instance the cow turds should be left to compost for a year but apparently some 'organic' mgrowers are not doing that long enough though technically meeting the organic label.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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How many folks in the world have been saved from starvation by GM crops?

For some it is not the production of food but the distribution that is at issue. I have heard claims that GM crops are particularly nasty because they tie the farmer to the seed producers in that GM crops do not re-seed naturally; which is not an issue in industrial farming but is one where more traditional farming methods are employed.
Michael is online now  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Michael could be right about that

but the main cause perhaps of the severe increases in the cost of foods for many of the world's poorest folk - living from hand to mouth is the boom in bio fuels that not only raises grain prices but is causing huge swathes of rain forest, etc. to be cut down to grow bio fuel crops

that is currently i think a very serious problem causing many poor to be even poorer - thing that sound good are not always good for everyone
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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Well, compared to California, Europe is not very bio/organic at all. We live in southern Spain in the winter (so we get to see poisonous junk being sprayed on things that are shipped all over Europe).

We only ate ( and grew much of our own as well) organic at home and it was a big let down to see just how little organic/bio food is available around Europe.

Yes, you can find some, but there is really no comparison to the kinds of organic products and food available in California.

Pesticides are particularly hard on children and many studies have shown this, so I hope the move to bio/organic keeps growing world wide.

It is better for our bodies and it is better for the planet!
WTnow is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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BTW I am not just talking about Spain, we travel all over Europe and look EVERY WHERE for organic/bio foods and they are few and far between compared to California.

Some places are better than others, but still quite sad, with a looong way to improve.

( I also realize not every state is like California, but there was endless and cheap supply in my area where most people are very interested in eating healthy food).
WTnow is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 02:03 PM
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WT...please don't shatter the myths. there is absolutely no need to introduce reality into this. let us believe what we want to believe.
walkinaround is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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>they are few and far between compared to California.
At least in Munich, they are in every supermarket. Plus I've got 3 "Bio only stores" within 300 meters too. Availability isn't an issue. The stuff is still far to expensive.
logos999 is offline  

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