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Organic options

From the recent Slate article, “Organic Panic: Michelle Obama’s garden and its discontents” by Christopher Beam:

“It’s a charming idea and everything, but it’s not practical,” says Xavier Equihua, who represents the Chilean Exporters Association as well as the Chilean Avocado Committee. The main problem, he says, is that local food is seasonal. For example, avocadoes grow in California during the summer months. Same with grapes. “What happens if you want some grapes during the month of December?” says Equihua. “What are you going to do? Not eat grapes?”

Well, yes. We don’t buy strawberries or tomatoes (unless the supermarket has the ones from the local Hutterite colony greenhouse) in the winter.  The  main problem isn’t that local food is seasonal.  The main problem is that we demand instant gratification in all aspects of our lives, including food.  Eating seasonally is sensible, not problematic.

Beam concludes,

And that’s the real subversive appeal of the Obamas’ organic garden. If it succeeds in shifting public perceptions about organic food, then the market for it may grow. And as with all market shifts, the most successful companies will embrace the organic movement rather than resist it. “For too long, the ag guys have said, If we raise it you’re gonna eat it. You don’t have options,” says Mitchell. “Well, now we have options.”

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4 Responses

  1. Hmm, I must read that article – love the “What are you going to do? Not eat grapes?” quote. Well, gosh, what a new and shocking revelation that must be. But then, he’s got his grape production to think of.

    I have to confess that I am rather cynical about the Obama’s garden. Don’t know why, but it seems vaguely opportunistic. And yet here I am, annoyed with all my friends for not having gardens of their own…

  2. New and shocking, and I’m not the only pushing it. There’s common sense and health, but there’s also economics on this side of the argument, with the new book, “Why Your World Is About to Get A Whole Lot Smaller” by Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets (you know, he’s the one who never wears a tie when he’s interviewed on the TV news). And when your world is smaller, because of common sense or oil prices, you’d better believe you’re not going to be eating too many grapes or avocados in the winter.

    I’m all for opportunistic presidential gardening politics : ). But Obama doesn’t know what he’s missing by not eating beets, especially roasted beets. Yum.

  3. I agree about beets.

    And everything else. And what’s so great about grapes.

    I like the point Barbara Kingsolver makes about oranges. They used to be a Christmas treat and now we have them all the time. That is the approach I take to bananas, kiwis, and whatnot. They are an occasional treat not everyday food.

    We eat a lot of apples in the winter. And canned peaches and pears.

  4. My mother in law has said the same thing about oranges. She can remember to her childhood when they were a December treat. I think one of the reasons we look forward so much to BC peaches, nectarines, and cherries so much in the summer is that they are available so briefly.

    We do much the same in the winter, along with frozen rhubarb (for crisps and cobblers) and frozen saskatoons…

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