Sustainable Chefs for Obama

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It's clearly the silly season—everybody is trying to get a piece of the Obama magic. For example, the Chefs Collaborative is gathering signatures on a fawning letter to the Obamas hailing their devotion to "sustainable food issues." Naturally, the Chefs Collaborative defines "sustainable" in the usual way, organic and small-scale farming and fishing. I've got nothing against organic farming other than the inflated and scientifically false claims that many of its proponents make against conventional and biotech farming. It is true that organic methods are generally far more labor intensive than conventional and biotech farming, so perhaps the spread of organic farming would help "save or create" those 3.5 million jobs.

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The CC press release announcing the letter gushes:

Chefs Collaborative, the nation's leading network of chefs and food professionals committed to sourcing and cooking with local, sustainable ingredients, is proud to announce that its letter to President and Mrs. Obama has thus far garnered signatures from 300 chefs and other food professionals across the U.S. The letter, which was first drafted in December 2008 as the keystone for the organization's new "Yes We Can" membership initiative, encourages the Obamas to continue to promote their dedication to sustainable food issues; to use the White House kitchen as an example for the rest of the nation; and to consider Chefs Collaborative and its members as resources.

Perhaps the Chefs Collaborative's effusions were provoked by the nomination of Kathleen Merrigan as deputy secretary of agriculture. As a staffer for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Merrigan drafted the legislation that eventually resulted in the establishment of the national organic program. Certainly, the progressive blogosphere is thrilled with Merrigan's nomination. In addition, the Obama administration's new budget "proposes increased funding to enhance the National Organic Program through additional education and outreach, as well as enforcement to maintain labeling credibility."

I explain some of my thoughts about food moralism in my column, "I don't care where my food comes from and neither should you," And here's a link to my analysis of novelist Barbara Kingsolver's farm fictions

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  1. It’s going to be so much fun trading one bloated agribusiness subsidy monster for another one.

    All hail the well meaning dictatorship of certified organic!

  2. as well as enforcement to maintain labeling credibility.

    Drop that carrot or the taxpayer gets it!

  3. It would help if we didn’t have to adopt the marketing label of “sustainable”. We could use other terms such as “restricted” and “limited”.

    All “sustainable” plans rely on making the “sustained” products perpetually in limited supply. Yes, you can grow more bamboo for you “sustainable”, all natural flooring but there is only so much land to grow bamboo on. Then you must either wipe out more of the environment or ration who gets bamboo flooring and the hundreds of thousands of other bamboo products.

    The same dynamic applies for solar energy or “organic” foods. You can only make so much stuff in a “sustainable” way. Once you’ve reached that limit, you have to cut people off.

    Sustainability is just a gruesome campaign to trap the majority of the human race in the preindustrial era and all the suffering that implies. If people need more food, clothing, medicine, or energy than can be provided “sustainable” then they will do without and suffer accordingly.

    Fortunately, this is really just an anti-capitalism fad of the wealthy Westerners who need to fabricate rare and difficult to produce things for the conspicuous consumption that they use to convey their superior status. Rich people eat hand-raised organic foods grown on local farms that can feed only a few hundred people. The non-rich eat mass produced food from factory farms.

    It’s just the 21st century version of lark’s tongues.

  4. Could we be lucky enough to see Obamamania collapse under its own weight?

  5. sage,

    Never. If there is still a cult devoted to Bush II(and a sizable one from what I’ve been told and what I’ve read) then there will always be a place for Obamamania.

  6. has thus far garnered signatures from 300 chefs and other food professionals across the U.S.

    A letter which has gathered literally tens of signatures.

    The mind boggles at the strength of this movement.

  7. It is true that organic methods are generally far more labor intensive than conventional and biotech farming, so perhaps the spread of organic farming would help “save or create” those 3.5 million jobs.

    And if a million or so people starve, they no longer need jobs.

    Could we be lucky enough to see Obamamania collapse under its own weight?

    It won’t be so lucky if it collapses on top of us.

  8. Paul,

    A few hardcore chefs could be all it takes for CHANGE. Remember the Bolsheviks?

  9. Stop me if I’ve said this before…….

    OK.

    Eating Sustainable (Local) means nobody in the MidWest gets fresh fruit or vegetables for 7 months of the year.

  10. “Eating Sustainable (Local) means nobody in the MidWest gets fresh fruit or vegetables for 7 months of the year.”

    Canned or frozen is okay the other 5 months.

    Ho, ho, ho!

  11. Where does Alton Brown fall?

  12. This already came up a month or so ago. The White House kitchen is already serving organic food. If I recall correctly, Laura Bush requested it.

  13. Meanwhile, stomach cancer rates are down by 75 percent since 1950 because old-fashioned food preservation techniques like salting, pickling, and smoking have been replaced by refrigeration.

    I know that food article is old, but do you have a reference for this Ron?

  14. Anthony Bourdain had a nice take on this:

    Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There’s something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I’m not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I’m a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits.

  15. That stomach cancer rates are down due to refrigeration, or down?

    http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/images/gpimages/cs_stom_f1.2

  16. It is true that organic methods are generally far more labor intensive than conventional and biotech farming, so perhaps the spread of organic farming would help “save or create” those 3.5 million jobs.

    Don’t discount the however-repressed pleasure that “oranic” shoppers derive from knowing that people very unlike them are spending their lives hunched over in fields of shit producing those conspicuous consumables.

  17. Eating Sustainable (Local) means nobody in the MidWest gets fresh fruit or vegetables for 7 months of the year.

    Thank you! I’d like to hear the morality of a system whereby I am denied bananas!

  18. A: Yes. We can.

  19. Thank you! I’d like to hear the morality of a system whereby I am denied bananas!

    Eating phallic food items leads to the gay; we must ban their consumption lest values conservatives fall back into their “experimentation” phase.

  20. Wait, it’s not good if I’m taking the banana down whole?

  21. Wait, it’s not good if I’m taking the banana down whole?

    The mastication habits in which you participate in the privacy of your own home are of no concern to us (we lack the resources to save you from your hell-bound journey). However, when The Children post videos of themselves on YouTube, we feel we must clog your 24-hour news networks with our increasingly shrill message of intolerance and poor science.

  22. Man, I’m sooooo glad we finally have a “pro-science” president! Woo hoo!

  23. Man, I’m sooooo glad we finally have a “pro-science” president!

    Truth is what I want it to be. Will is power, and science bends to my will. Yes, I can.

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