Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lack of organic produce

Now, I don't consider myself a strong environmentalist but I think I am becoming more so. I think it is good economics. And since arriving in America - even a living in a supposedly relatively green city, I am constantly disgusted and appalled at what I see around me.

I recently watched Food Inc and threw away all of the frozen meat in my freezer (okay so it had spent a few days defrosting due to a power cut and then re-froze so it was probably the right thing to do anyway). Summarising the film-documentary: It seems that most food stuffs can be traced back to a corn field in Iowa due to the stupid subsidies the US government pays a small number of farmers. The result is basically that it is cheaper to buy corn than it is to produce it so lots is produced so people find lots of ways to use it including feeding it to animals that wouldn't normally eat it which increases various diseases in them like e-coli that then have to be killed with chemicals. Or high-fructose corn syrup, which may make you fat. Or not. Or is bad for you in some other way. I couldn't quite figure it out. But it seems (shock horror!) that it is not just calories that matter but also the type of calories you eat (I actually read the whole academic article to check out their statistics and report back to a friend who wanted to know more about it. I'm happy to forward anyone else who is interested my informal analysis).

I had been wondering for some time now why most places I eat here are a slightly above average but I'd not found any place I'd call amazing (although Churchkeys which also has one of DC's best choice of great beers comes very close, in an unexpected discovery recently). I now have a candidate. The chefs are good, the ideas are good. But some of the inputs are bad. Fruit, veg and meat which don't actually have any flavour by themselves because they're not real. They're fed badly (if animals) and treated with enough chemicals to wash away any taste.

So I decided to look for organic foods. I don't have strong organic beliefs but it seems that in America, you only have a choice of extremes, so I'm going with this one. I don't even know if organic is really better for the environment or not.

Anyway, earlier, I was at my local supermarket and I asked if any of the delicious looking meats in front of me were organic? The guy pointed out that a couple of things had labels saying 'natural'. What does that even mean?!!! It turns out these don't have anything unnatural added to them. Seriously? Wow. Then I said, no - I wanted organic. Amongst the immense ray he pointed out this:

Organic ground beef. I bought it. And I am now eating some delicious home made burgers.

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