There are a few things that food bloggers and foodies in general hold dear that just irritate the shit out of me. The problem is, these things are not only politically correct, but they are the norm for people in my profession. I’m about to buck the trend and speak out against one of the holy grails of food blogging.
I’m talking about Organics.
Any sane human can, and probably will, argue the benefits of organic produce and organic, free range, naturally fed livestock and artisan beef. There’s no doubt that both are better for the environment, for the health of both animal and consumer. There is little doubt that if sourced locally, organics are better for the environment on a grand scale as well as a local scale but there is one huge issue standing in the way of all-natural 100% organic anything becoming the norm.
Organic meats and produce are pricey. Some would argue that the big companies are holding the market prices higher, but that really isn’t the case. Even the big Ag companies are switching to organics, and more will follow as consumers buy more. Consumer demand is the key to making organics less expensive. It’s a simple supply and demand issue, and organics are winning.
But here’s the thing. It may not really matter. Surely for people in large metropolitan areas it does. There are generally a large number of fairly local suppliers for just about anything that you would like to purchase. But what if you live in one of the “flyover states” or somewhere even more remote like, say, Alaska.
For 7 months out of the year it doesn’t make one whit of difference to me whether my produce is organic or not. Not for as long as we’re here, because environmentally there is no impact difference. Everything that we’re buying had to be shipped from somewhere else, and that somewhere else is very, very far away.
99% of the allure of organic fruits and veggies is their freshness, but ours have spent the same amount of time on a ship or a plane that the conventional produce has, so there is little difference in freshness, if any. In December it all looks wilted and frost bitten and all of it goes bad very, very quickly. The difference is that organic celery is more expensive and probably didn’t weather the trip as well.
All meat here is at a premium as well. again, you aren’t going to see any cattle herds in Alaska, so there is no way I can justify paying even more than the already ludicrous prices to go organic and still try to feed my family. (Did I hear you say chicken? yeah. Our “local” eggs come from Portland, people.)
Alaska isn’t the only place that has these issues. Much of the Midwest imports most of their produce. It just doesn’t grow there, which drives prices on organics higher as well, in an area where people are struggling to make ends meet already. People don’t buy as much organically produced stuff there, either. In fact, you might get looked at a little funny in North Texas if you ask for the organics section in some produce aisles.
I’m all for organic, locally sourced meats and produce. Our local farmers market opens next month and I will be there supporting local growers. I will buy fish from local producers. I will do my best. But not if it’s going to take food off my family’s table.
Until it is feasible to find organic products all across America at reasonable prices, you will never see a recipe post on Cooking by the seat of my pants that admonishes my readers to use only organic products. I might mention that they should be used if possible, but I won’t run the risk of alienating someone who can’t get organic ingredients and thinks that they are necessary for the success of a recipe.
This is going to make some people angry, but it is what it is. Celery is still celery, folks., regardless of its pedigree. A commercially farmed granny smith still makes one heck of a pie, and I’m not hopping on the All-natural bandwagon until everyone in the country has the opportunity to do so without breaking the bank.
I’m sure that some will differ with my views here. That’s fine. This is about discussion and community, and if I’m wrong, I want to know about it. Feel free to join the discussion and share your thoughts on the subject.
Peace. I’m out.