What's Next? Concerns About Fake Astrologers?

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organic labeling

"Purity of Federal 'Organic' Label Is Questioned," is a front page headline in today's Washington Post. Considering that the organic label is largely a marketing scheme (or perhaps it is better described as a marketing scam) designed to get consumers to pay more for products that are no better than conventional ones, it's hard for me to get worked up over the fact some farmers and processors are violating the federal program's arbitrary rules.

One might reply that violations of the federal rules constitute a fraud on consumers who expect to get one sort of product and instead are getting another. On the other hand, the whole concept of "organic" is pretty much a scientific fraud (OK, maybe it's just a wrongheaded anti-scientific fable) itself–a fact which the anxious Washington Post article inadvertantly acknowledges when it reports:

The market's expansion is fueling tension over whether the federal program should be governed by a strict interpretation of "organic" or broadened to include more products by allowing trace elements of non-organic substances. The argument is not over whether the non-organics pose a health threat, but whether they weaken the integrity of the federal organic label. 

If "non-organics" pose no health threats, why do we need federal standards? Worries about the "purity" of organic foods and products represent an essentially religious stance much like kosher and halal, both of which are adequately established and monitored privately. Certification of organic products should be done the same way.

By the way, some astrologers do want professional governmental licensing

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  1. All food is organic. Always has been, always will be. I,ve yet to see an “Inorganic Food” section at the market.

  2. I always get a good chuckle out of organic food. It’s *not*, repeat, NOT environmentally friendly since it’s an inefficient use of valuable land.

  3. A far away parallel universe is slowly but surely merging into our reality. And it ain’t pretty.

  4. To a chemist inorganic refers to chemistry not related to carbon compounds; so presumably organic food is that which lacks iron and calcium? Yes, I know, that doesn’t make a dick’s worth of sense. Maybe I should apply for a bullshit certification?

  5. [summary of commonplace objections]

    Oh, but Chris, the pesticides! The hormones! The destruction of the water table! My baby!

    Also, it just *tastes better*!

    And I just feel better knowing I’m doing my part to save the planet and help the farmers and the corporations are bad and you never know what they put in that stuff and also animal poop is better for soil I hear and you can just *taste* how it washes away liberal-guilt!

    [in all seriousness]

    Most reasoned discussions about organic food usually boil down to the advocate sniffing, “Well, *I* prefer it..”… it being a matter of personal rectitude and a demonstration of their higher culinary and gastronimical sophistication. Sucks to you if you can’t appreciate the special texture of that organic seaweed salad. Philistine!

  6. My girlfriend is allergic to some of the pesticides that are sprayed on fruit, so if she wants to eat unpeeled fruit, she has to buy organic. Clearly, that’s not a particularly common problem, but it’s a concern for some people.

  7. Nick, I understand, but keep in mind that organic foods can cause life threatening allergies for people like me. One time I was about 20 minutes away from death due to anaphylactic shock after drinking organic vegetable juice. The paramedics had to inject me with benadryl and norep. to save my life.

    In other words… COW DUNG KILLS. πŸ˜€

    And that’s also another reason organic is not environmentally friendly. Where the heck do organic advocates think the fertilizer comes from???

    And, Gilmore, yes I do sometimes appreciate the taste factor of organic for certain foods! πŸ™‚

  8. The private certification system for “certified organic” would make the most sense, as competing organizations would offer their services to certify, and if someone certified something that wasn’t believed “organic” by the buying market, that organization’s label would lose all credibility. I’d love to see liberals’ heads explode if they ever realized that a market-based system in this situation is far better than a government-based one.

  9. I agree that the whole “organic food” craze is silly. However, people who do care are entitled to the truth. Similarly, I don’t care if my food is kosher, but a person who markets their food as kosher when it isn’t is guilty of fraud. In my libertarian opinion, making sure people don’t lie about the food and drugs they are selling is the ONLY thing that government should be concerned about.

  10. Home grown is better than store bought – organic or not.

  11. What’s Next? Concerns About Fake Astrologers?

    Well, jeez, you never know when one of them might miss the significance of Venus in opposition to Jupiter while Mars is retrograde.

    You might forget to wear your tinfoil hat.

  12. I’ve never seen any evidence suggesting that organic food is tastier by virtue of being grown “organically”, and not, say, as a result of growers simply targeting higher-quality product (for example, fresher) toward consumers that they know are prepared to pay more.

  13. You can blame the hate coming from Sean Hannity and his cocksucking christ-fag rimjob followers for this bullshit. But I doubt if the Rush Limbaugh teabaggers and felchers on this take-it-up-the-ass right wingnut blog care.

  14. shriek | July 3, 2009, 3:44pm | #

    You can blame the hate coming from Sean Hannity and his cocksucking christ-fag rimjob followers for this bullshit. But I doubt if the Rush Limbaugh teabaggers and felchers on this take-it-up-the-ass right wingnut blog care.

    who hurt you?

  15. I’ve never seen “shrike” spell his/her name as “shriek” so I think that was a joke.

    Also, the real shrike would be tap-dancing over the resignation of Sarah Palin.

  16. I can’t fully enjoy organic food without tasting the manure.

  17. Back were I live, my parents grow their own tomatoes. They are only available for less then two months a year but let me tell you, the difference is enormous, and it’s more than what Chester said. My folks do use pesticides, because otherwise their crop would get decimated.
    For the rest of the year, I buy the usual store tomatoes.

  18. Nick says:”My girlfriend is allergic to some of the pesticides that are sprayed on fruit.”

    Chris says: “One time I was about 20 minutes away from death due to anaphylactic shock after drinking organic vegetable juice. The paramedics had to inject me with benadryl and norep. to save my life.”

    That’s it. Time to ban food.

  19. Chester Oakley | July 3, 2009, 3:43pm | #
    I’ve never seen any evidence suggesting that organic food is tastier by virtue of being grown “organically”, and not, say, as a result of growers simply targeting higher-quality product…

    Chester,

    To rebut myself somewhat… there IS solid evidence that SOME produce, organically farmed, can produce fantastically superior foods. But they are select cases, depend on the region/producer/packing-shipping distances, etc.

    Organic tomatoes are famous for kicking the shit out of most conventional varieties in your supermarket, fwiw. They do taste better. They also cost 30% more because organic methods mean that they lose about 30-40% of their product to spoilage, bruising, infestation, etc. But it is still nice to have a tomato that isnt all thick cellulose.

    Other things are patent horseshit – processed organic foods in particular.

    Shit reminds me of the low carb craze… when an enterprising company came out with Low Carb Bottled Water.

    Some people needed reminding that there were no carbs in water in the first place.

    But Organics is largely the same scam – implying that all “regular” food is somehow by contrast all chemically tainted, synthetic corporate soylent green and is actively destroying the planet, raping kittens, oppressing minorities, etc.

  20. To a chemist inorganic refers to chemistry not related to carbon compounds; so presumably organic food is that which lacks iron and calcium? Yes, I know, that doesn’t make a dick’s worth of sense. Maybe I should apply for a bullshit certification?

    I ate at a restaurant where they advertised having “organic sea salt.” I wondered out loud how that worked, and it took everyone a little while to understand what I meant (my GF got what I meant instantly, thank God).

  21. Organic shoppers are up there with people who shop at Whole Foods. They think paying more for groceries somehow makes them superior instead of an idiot. Memo to the nose-in-the-air fuckwads who do either of the two: your shit does stink.

  22. “Organic tomatoes are famous for kicking the shit out of most conventional varieties in your supermarket, fwiw. They do taste better.”

    Yeah, and I am sure they did some double blind test verifying this, right? Please. The only reason some people claim organic tastes better is because they want to believe it tastes better because they were fucking stupid enough to pay more for it. I am sorry, but there is nothing inherently superior to a tomato fertilized with shit instead of pesticides.

  23. “I’ve never seen any evidence suggesting that organic food is tastier by virtue of being grown “organically”…”

    That is because none exists. As a study from the University of Copenhagen, detailing that organic food is no more healthy,so aptly stated, organic produce is a “rich man’s hobby”. People who buy organic produce remind me of the dumbasses who pay $5000 for a speaker cable.

  24. In one of my posts above, a sentence should read:
    I am sorry but there is nothing inherently superior about a tomato fertilized with shit instead of pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

  25. “Home grown is better than store bought – organic or not”.

    Not if you have no fucking clue what you are doing.

  26. George Miller may have hit on the answer to several of our problems… Think of it!

    If everything “organic” contains carbon… then horror of horrors, all of those people currently ranting about how “carbon” is bad in their benighted meteorological assessments will be in a politically incorrect pickle. (Don’t even get me started about how C is not the same thing as CO2.)

    If I had the energy, I’d go find a suburban hippie to debate right now. Oh the humanity.

    That means no diamonds for soccer moms either.

  27. Organic shoppers are up there with people who shop at Whole Foods.

    Hey, I shop at Whole Foods for 1) the beer selection*, 2)the “sausacge of the week” (it’s usually good). and 3) The Buffalo burgers at $6.99 a pound. Yes they are that good.

    I also do it to watch the passing parade of superannuated hippies and the soccer/security moms wanting to make sure none of their babies gets any chemicals in his/her diet.

    *Whole Foods is now losing on that front, because the local ABC is now stocking the same brands at fifty cents to a dollar less.

  28. I remember some wag back in the late 70s early 80s saying that since “organic” meant having a carbon-based chemistry you could sell “organic” food and drinks made from oil. πŸ™‚

  29. Would non-organic foods be silicon based?

  30. “Yeah, and I am sure they did some double blind test verifying this, right? Please. The only reason some people claim organic tastes better is because they want to believe it tastes better because they were fucking stupid enough to pay more for it. I am sorry, but there is nothing inherently superior to a tomato fertilized with shit instead of pesticides.”

    I have done a taste test of red and orange bell peppers because I wanted to be sure I liked them for a reason rather than a label. And yes, organic tastes better. That’s why I continue to buy them. They’re richer, juicier and less watery. (Like your mom.) Organic milk is also much better than regular.

    Why do libertarians take offense about organic food anyway? I’m puzzled. Researching putting a chip in the superbrains of your clones: Perfectly fine. People enjoying their purchase of organic bacon: Outrageous.

    Organic food, far as I can tell, has nothing to do with coercion.

  31. People who buy organic produce remind me of the dumbasses who pay $5000 for a speaker cable.

    Or a digital cable, even. “Oh, the ones are so much oneier, the zeroes so very much zeroier!”

  32. Why do libertarians take offense about organic food anyway?

    They don’t. They don’t “take offense” at any other harmless marketing schemes either.

    “Organic” is silly, but in all fairness probably not quite so silly as astrology and fortune telling, but close.

    I’m reminded of a story I read in free inquiry some years ago about an move in Louisiana to license fortune tellers. FI finally came down on the side of ignoring them rather than giving them the respectability that licensing might confer.

    will, no libertarian that I know of is calling for prohibition on “organic food”. Not to speak for everyone else I just don’t want to see the Federal government confer respectability on what is clearly nothing more than a marketing label.

  33. Hi all: What Issac said (though I had hoped the point was evident in my post).

  34. Regarding astrology licensing, I notice that the stupid cow who wrote that page you linked to is also a real estate appraiser. Didn’t the real estate business have a rash of utterly fictitious valuations a short while ago?

    -jcr

  35. I ate at a restaurant where they advertised having “organic sea salt.”

    There is no such thing as organic salt. By definition, organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds.

    -jcr

  36. Why do libertarians take offense about organic food anyway?

    It’s not the food, it’s the hogwash promulgated by the promoters of the primitive practice. Pesticides and artificial fertilizers save lives.

    -jcr

  37. A salt containing an ion of an organic compound can legitimately be called an organic salt. Compounds like sodium formate or tetrabutylammonium chloride are examples.

  38. A salt containing an ion of an organic compound can legitimately be called an organic salt.

    I’m quite sure that in this context they were talking about NaCL.

    -jcr

  39. Thanks for the clarification, all.

    “Worries about the “purity” of organic foods and products represent an essentially religious stance much like kosher and halal, both of which are adequately established and monitored privately. Certification of organic products should be done the same way.”

    Ron: you should have made it clear, then, there are a variety of private quality assurance organizations that verify organic status already, and there would be absolutely no need or semblance of need for a federal institution for what’s already being done perfectly fine.

  40. I shop at Whole Foods largely because the produce is a lot better quality (both the organic and conventional stuff) than at the other local supermarkets.

    I think there are many of us who understand that the advantages of something being organic or not depend greatly on the food in question. For instance, organic milk generally has a better ratio of Omega-3:Omega-6 fatty acids not because it’s organic but because the organic dairies feed their cows grass instead of corn. So, in that particular case, I care much more about the other qualities that often come along with the food being organic.

    Foods also absorb pesticides at different rates. I don’t eat conventionally-grown berries because berries absorb pesticides at an alarming rate and I eat a lot of berries. The same is neither true of nor a problem for many other kinds of fruits, but one has to know all the facts involved.

    For many people with extra money, just buying the organic stuff gives them peace of mind and relieves them of the burden of having to know which conventional foods are “bad” are which are okay. They are essentially paying for someone else to look at the information and pre-filter the food choices for them.

    As a result, I don’t get the organic food hate among many libertarians: you think people who buy organic think themselves superior? Look in the mirror, guys.

  41. “As a result, I don’t get the organic food hate among many libertarians: you think people who buy organic think themselves superior? Look in the mirror, guys.”

    Yeah, but we really are superior πŸ˜‰

  42. hey shriek- I notice your hate rant consists of purely GAY sex terms…to denigrate gays, doesn’t that make YOU a hater of one of the MOST liberal groups around??? My,how entertaining misplaced hatred is.

  43. mack, “shriek” is a spoof troll based on the genuine liberal poster “shrike”.

    He doesn’t do awfully well however.

  44. It makes as much sense for gov’t entities to define and police “organic” as it does for them to do that for things like “dollar”.

  45. I agree that the whole “organic food” craze is silly. However, people who do care are entitled to the truth. Similarly, I don’t care if my food is kosher, but a person who markets their food as kosher when it isn’t is guilty of fraud. In my libertarian opinion, making sure people don’t lie about the food and drugs they are selling is the ONLY thing that government should be concerned about.

    But if the food contains carbon, then the people aren’t lying about it when they call it “organic.”

  46. The truth is that ‘organic’ is just a mechanism for elites to display their wealth in a more sophisticated way. Used to be caviar and mineral water.

    Problem is that the wealthier we as a society grow, the more accessible traditional symbols of wealth get, so the upper edge needs to invent a new vehicle for status games. Organic is just the newest one.

    It isn’t even the first time ostentatious displays of moral rectitude have been a mechanism for asserting social superiority. Check out the huge jeweled crosses that Spaniards used to wear to show off their devotion to Jesus Christ.

  47. Prior to reading this article the subject of USDA Certified Organic meant little to me, still does, only difference is I’m not really satisfied to get bits of information from a newspaper concerning a government program when the government is usually anxious to spill it’s guts and spends my money to do it. So I headed to the USDA site and spent a couple hours studying what they had to offer, quite a little for certain, the majority of which is vague to say the least, much is even contradictory. No question about it, the subject is more of a religion than science. Now, I’m aware the loons wastefully spending on “Organic” food most likely want to “feel good,” but I doubt it comes from anything different in the food, more probable is what’s on the food, the “Organic” label. Do they even bother to learn what all the extra cost is getting them? Seems unlikely, since claims I’ve heard made by many of them (such as the absence of chemical pesticides) aren’t necessarily true, certainly not guaranteed.

    Yes, I feel (something, just not sure what) for the person terrified an anti-biotic or hormone or chemical may be added to their food, so to them, cheers, enjoy your big glass of organic soy milk, and feel safe knowing the phytoestrogens you’re about to drink are good hormones since they weren’t added at least tey aren’t chemicals. But, take those same estrogenic chemicals out of that soy milk and add them to dairy milk in million times more dilute concentration and that’s scary huh, suddenly “hormone” means something, like it was just magically transformed into a “chemical.”

    Everything organic label, or not, is chemicals, and the priests of the organic religion can’t change that, all they can do is help someone delude themselves into feeling good for no rational reason. Something tells me USDA involvement in this obvious fraud points to lobbying by whoever it is that is making insane profits suckering fools into paying double the regular price for their food. Something else tells me next time I’m bored I’ll be looking into it.

  48. “I am sorry but there is nothing inherently superior about a tomato fertilized with shit”

    Here’s the difference about eating shit and eating pesticide. Humans are ADAPTED to eating shit. People have been eating other animals’ shit for millenia. HOWEVER, humans may not be adapted to the pesticides or genetic modifications in “inorganic” food (And because there are no regulations for testing GM crops, we may never know of long term health consequences). Thus, for some people, the intelligent choice would be to avoid consuming chemicals that are not traditionally consumed by humans. A lot of people would rather not participate in an agribusiness science experiment the foods of today are subjected to.

    Also, organic farming methods are less intrusive to the rest of nature. I understand that many people don’t give a fuck about nature, but there are some people that would rather all the birds and the bees not die from eating too much pesticide.

    See, some people believe that it is their duty to take care of nature and their environment.

    Finally, of course, “organic farming” does not refer to the classical, chemistry definition of organic. Nobody is claiming that it does. This is a retarded straw man attack. “Organic farming” refers to “avoidance of most synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge.”

    Stop hating on organic. This is other people’s freedom of choice to eat what they want. Your lack of respect or understanding for other people’s choices is disgusting.

  49. “Foods also absorb pesticides at different rates. I don’t eat conventionally-grown berries because berries absorb pesticides at an alarming rate and I eat a lot of berries. The same is neither true of nor a problem for many other kinds of fruits, but one has to know all the facts involved.”

    Yeah, that would matter if there was a a modicum of evidence demonstrating that those pesticides were harmful, but pretty much every study ever done on the subject has demonstrated that you will not suffer harm from the pesticides used on fruit. And I would be willing to bet everything I own that if you weren’t told it was organic you would not be able to taste the difference.

    “For instance, organic milk generally has a better ratio of Omega-3:Omega-6 fatty acids not because it’s organic but because the organic dairies feed their cows grass instead of corn.

    Uh, I hate to burst your bubble, but the USDA’s official position is that there is no nutritional difference, at all, between organic and nonorganic milk. Why is this? Because the short chain Omega 3’s in organic milk have almost no health benefits at all. You would have to drink six to nine gallons of organic milk to get the same amount of omega 3s that are in a salmon fillet. Furthermore, the major study that supposedly demonstrated the extra health benefits that you are most likely referring to was funded by the UK organic dairy industry. presehttp://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/1611/nt in a salmon fillet.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-406155/Organic-milk-healthier-says-food-watchdog.html

    “Also, organic farming methods are less intrusive to the rest of nature. I understand that many people don’t give a fuck about nature, but there are some people that would rather all the birds and the bees not die from eating too much pesticide.

    See, some people believe that it is their duty to take care of nature and their environment.”

    You might believe that organic farming is better for the environment, but that doesn’t make it so. Multiple studies, including ones done by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK found that organic farming provide no environmental benefits when compared to non-organic farming.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/organic-farming-no-better-for-the-environment-436949.html

    As the responses of some of the organic cheerleaders on this site indicate, a lot of the organic bullshit, as I stated before, comes down to a sense of superiority that derives from a wholly mistaken belief that pesticides are dangerous or organic farming is better for the environment(it’s not). And frankly some of it comes from the “hey, look at me, I’m buying organic fucking berries. Aren’t I awesome. Look how fucking conscientious I am”.

  50. “Stop hating on organic. This is other people’s freedom of choice to eat what they want. Your lack of respect or understanding for other people’s choices is disgusting.”

    Hahahahahahaahahahah, wow you really put me in my place. I am not hating on organic. I am merely mocking the better-than-you turds who pay more money for something that provides absolutely no additional benefits. If you want to throw away your money on bullshit, that is fine with me. But it is my right to mercilessly mock you for it.

  51. I don’t even purchase organic foods. I’m not in the best position to defend organic foods either, because i’m not really into it. But the enthusiasm of people on this site to mock someone’s eating habits is disturbing.

    I can find other studies that say that organic farming is superior to the environment. I don’t know how good they are, but whatever heres one:
    http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/organic/policy/research/pdf/env-impacts2.pdf

    I’m not trying to “put you in your place”, I just don’t like it when people reactively make fun of someone else’s beliefs, even when it’s not my own.

    To me, organic-foods is a Luddite-like reaction to today’s franken-food farming practices. Today, most of our corn, rapeweed, etc have been genetically modified to be herbicide resistant. These crops cross-polliate to natural strains, transferring the man-made gene across the globe. Is it not a tiny bit disturbing much of our food supply has become genetically modified without the populations knowledge or consent? Ever hear about the dangerous working conditions agribusiness exposes to its workers, because of the amount of pesticides they use? Or how pesticides fuck up some sort of ecosystem?

    Organic farming is a different kind of farming philosophy. It just seems a lil assholish for people to attack it without really knowing what it’s about.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming

  52. For those of you too lazy to read the article, here’s some potentially good effects of organic farming:

    – increased farm biodiversity
    – decreased environmental damage from pesticides/herbicides
    – decreased human exposure to pesticides/herbicides
    – tradeoffs in nutritional quality (which is good cuz you have more variety).
    – “sustainable” farming

    Yes there is debate on the merits of organic farming. And maybe none of yall give a shit about the above points. But it isn’t astrology. People have reasons for their beliefs.

  53. It’s nice to be reminded occasionally that the Religious right doesn’t have a monopoly on superstition affecting public policy.

    It’s also funny that an independent organization hasn’t stepped in to fill the “Organic” label niche, in the way the Council of Rabbis certifies kosher products or Underwriter’s Laboratories certifies products.

  54. Many organic foods do taste better than standard counterparts. It’s not because they are not genetically modified or anything like that, but because the “organic” label entails production standards that tend to produce tastier food than other mass production means. In the case of tomatoes, convention is to use plant hormones to accelerate the maturing process to increase yield over time. This rapid growth produces a less tasty tomato. Organics don’t do this, hence they are noticeably better. If you grew a conventional tomato without those production methods but also used pesticide, it would be comparable in quality. In this case, “organic” is more likely to be closer to out of your garden flavor.

  55. “Yeah, and I am sure they did some double blind test verifying this, right? Please.”

    1) Yes

    2) It’s pretty clear you are saying this without actually being familiar with organic food. The aforementioned organic milk’s flavor contrasts pretty starkly with what you typically will find in a grocery store. You’d have to have a really bad palette not to reliably identify the difference.

    Another example comes to mind because while it likely will taste different, it might not be better. Organic chicken (and turkey) tends to be drier than conventional counterparts. It also far less bland. Unless you know what you are doing when you cook it, it’s more likely to be unpleasant due to the dryness, though. This, again, is just because organic farmed chicken tends to be free range with a different, more “natural” diet than your typical mass produced chicken. This leads to different flavors developing in the meat. You could raise a chicken this way and occasionally walk up to it and spray a pesticide in its face without it mattering, but the reality is that’s not how chicken typically is mass produced.

  56. B | July 3, 2009, 7:04pm | #
    “Organic tomatoes are famous for kicking the shit out of most conventional varieties in your supermarket, fwiw. They do taste better.”

    Yeah, and I am sure they did some double blind test verifying this, right? Please. The only reason some people claim organic tastes better is because they want to believe it tastes better because they were fucking stupid enough to pay more for it. I am sorry, but there is nothing inherently superior to a tomato fertilized with shit instead of pesticides.

    Fertilized with pesticides? You sound like Clyde Frazier.

    But fwiw, chefs all over the world make the case about organic tomatoes. You dont need to take my word for it.

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