A few years ago, I attended the Eco-Farm Conference at Asilomar in Pacific Grove. We were taken on a bus to view family owned farms. One was Driscoll. I have stood before the Driscoll raspberries and strawberries in the grocery store wondering if it was worth the extra cost for organic. They sell both. What I learned at the conference is that it takes years to be certified organic, and still there may be a problem with the ground water. The fields stand next to each other. The spray from the non-organic fruits may waft onto the organic. Why, then, buy and support organic? Because the workers are better paid, and they aren't exposed to chemicals. We do it for those who pick the crops as well as our own health, Stanford's study notwithstanding. Also, the more we support organic, the more the costs will come down. Eventually, we'll return to all organic, and we won't have to worry about chemicals and spray polluting the soil, water, and air.
I buy food for two people, and even still I stand before the milk display and debate an extra dollar for a quart of milk, and then, I think of my health and the health of those who work with the cows, and I pay it. If I had a family to buy for, it might be different, but I wonder how this study was conducted. Yes, a freshly picked sprayed orange might have more nutrition than an organic orange that had been lying around for weeks. We all have seen the bins of shriveled up organic produce. It's unsually not as shiny as the beautifully waxed apples. Ultimately it is up to us to look at each piece of food we buy, and determine if the investment is the best addition to the environment and to our health.
The cafe at Muir Woods only serves food from local farms. Everything is either recyclable or compostable. They have three bins, and you choose where to put your waste. The third bin is for food packaging brought in from outside, and includes Kettle potato chip wrappers, and certain kinds of plastic. It is a vivid illustration of how important it is to consider all that goes into purchases of food.
Here is a poem by William Kistler. It's in the latest American Poetry Review.
How can we go on killing from a distance
and poisoning without sight each thing we eat
while it poisons us? To repeat - what
we poison ends in us. Will no one say no,
as our smallest cells say no and fly out
down the streams of the body, plasma
of the brain delivering the message - I'm sick,
I'm angry at your sickness, your anger,
which poisons with caged-chemical,
confinement each cow, pig, chicken,
every growing leaf thing - even apples,
almonds, fish of the sea, bees, you sleeping,
you lost race of men, who do not say no,
in a country which does not say no,
but goes on stripping earth of seeds,
worms, pollinators, all sorts of carriers
and sustainers, in order to bend life
to the speed of machines, then turns away,
turns formless, forgotten eyes to watch
late-night celebrities tell of their imagined
victories over the rebelling cells of cancer
- William Kistler