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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Organic eggs?
« on: 19/01/2009 11:18:40 »
I just went to my local shop (It's for local people. There's nothing for you there!) for some eggs. When last I purchased eggs from there, but a few days ago, they were 89p for 6. This morning, however, the price had risen to 1.09 for 6. When I enquired as to the reason for such a steep increase I was informed that "These are organic eggs".

My quip about them having been laid by a Wurlitzer fell on deaf ears (possibly due to the shopkeeper's Asian ethnicity having precluded him from sampling the musical delights of such an instrument) so I asked if eggs could be non-organic. I was met with a facial expression similar to that I would expect from someone who had just been hit on the forehead with a large cod after which he mumbled something about "real chickens".

OK, I know what he meant - free range eggs; but to refer to them as organic; and "real chickens"? I don't know whether to attribute it to the shopkeeper's poor understanding of English or if he is simply trying to jump on a bandwagon.

Has anyone else come across similar absurdities?


 

Offline dentstudent

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #1 on: 19/01/2009 11:37:15 »
Just about anything that has the word "natural" in it gives me a sense of 1) Impending approach of "woowoo", closely followed by a deep sense of irritation, and 2) The reasonably well justified thought that this "product" is likely to be over-priced, no different to non "natural" products, and that it is probably going to make someone a ton of money from people too gullible to research it.

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #2 on: 19/01/2009 12:12:04 »
Stuart - I'm with you on that.
 

blakestyger

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #3 on: 19/01/2009 16:39:48 »
In a similar vein, I did come across some bottled water once that claimed to be 'suitable for vegetarians'.

Not as daft as it seems - part of the treatment of the water is to filter it through activated charcoal. The source of some activated charcoal is animal bones. [:0]
 

Offline JimBob

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #4 on: 19/01/2009 16:55:53 »
My Good Doctor,

Have you purchased your mechanical chicken? Perhaps it lays mechanical eggs, thus the confusion at your local shop.

http://valentineantiquegallery.com/i-90725-antique-tin-mechanical-chicken.html
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #5 on: 19/01/2009 19:38:17 »
Jim - I think you have solved my problem!  :D
 

Offline Make it Lady

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #6 on: 19/01/2009 20:15:14 »
Any organic product uses less energy to be produced. Although free range hens have a better life they can still be fed on corn that has been grown with pesticides and artificial fertilizer. If you are OK with this buy the cheap eggs but if you are not and you want to reduce your carbon footprint then organic is for you.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #7 on: 19/01/2009 20:19:00 »
Any organic product uses less energy to be produced. Although free range hens have a better life they can still be fed on corn that has been grown with pesticides and artificial fertilizer. If you are OK with this buy the cheap eggs but if you are not and you want to reduce your carbon footprint then organic is for you.

So explain non-organic eggs.
 

Offline Make it Lady

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #8 on: 19/01/2009 20:29:14 »
I did! You are talking a different language to the average man in the street, organic has more than one meaning now. Next you will be saying that gay only means happy.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #9 on: 19/01/2009 21:32:55 »
I did! You are talking a different language to the average man in the street, organic has more than one meaning now. Next you will be saying that gay only means happy.

Doesn't it?
 

Offline dentstudent

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #10 on: 20/01/2009 08:12:08 »
Any organic product uses less energy to be produced.

MIL - this isn't true. I don't have details at my finger-tips right now, but in essence, organic products are grown in much the same way as "non-organic", often juxtaposed within the same farm. Certainly, there are different pesticides used and so on to comply with the rules to make something "organic", but generally the farming methods are identical, and therefore use the same energy. In many circumstances, you are merely paying through the nose for a well marketed "organic" product, which is virtually identical to the "non-organic" counterpart.
 

Offline dentstudent

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« Reply #11 on: 20/01/2009 08:31:33 »
A rather lengthy, but factual overview of organic vs non-organic food. (Skeptoid #19 January 5th 2007).

Organic food is a conventional food crop (genetically exactly the same plant variety as the regular version) but grown according to a different set of standards. In this sense, organic food is really the same thing as kosher food. The food itself is identical, but it's prepared in such a way to conform to different philosophical standards. Just as kosher standards are defined by rabbinical authorities, the USDA's National Organic Program sets the requirements for foods to bear a "certified organic" label. Basically it forbids the use of modern synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in favor of organic equivalents, and for animals it requires that they have not been kept healthy through the use of antibiotics. There are other rules too, and the basic goal is to require the use of only natural products throughout the growth, preparation, and preservation stages.

Organic food is more expensive than conventional food, due not only to its lower crop yields and more expensive organic fertilizers and pesticides in larger quantities, but mainly because it's such a big fad right now and is in such high demand.

Why is that? Is organic food healthier? Does it make an important political statement? The usual arguments boil down to three: that it benefits small farmers rather than big evil companies; that it's somehow healthier to eat; and that the cultivation method is better for the environment. Rather than accepting these emotionally satisfying benefits at face value, let's instead take a skeptical look and see what the data actually show. Let's take these three claimed benefits one at a time.

Buying organic food benefits small farmers, and represents a blow to the big food corporations.

All right, let's take for granted the position that major food producers deserve to be struck with a blow. I'm sure the starving millions in Africa appreciate the sentiment.

Make no mistake, organic food is big, big business. The days when the organic produce section of the supermarket represented the product of a small local farmer are long gone. California alone produces over $600 million in organic produce, most of it coming from just five farms, who are also the same producers of most non-organic food in the state. 70 percent of all organic milk is controlled by just one major milk producer.

Five or ten years ago, when the major food producers saw that organic food was coming into vogue, what do you think they did? They smelled higher prices charged for less product, and started producing organic crops. Nearly all organic crops in the United States are either grown, distributed, or sold by exactly the same companies who produce conventional crops. They don't care which one you buy. You're not striking a blow at anyone, except at your own pocketbook.

Trader Joe's is a supermarket chain specializing in organic, vegetarian, and alternative foods with hundreds of locations throughout the United States, centered in organic-happy Southern California. Shoppers appreciate its image of healthful food in a small-business family atmosphere. Really? In 2005 alone, Trader Joe's racked up sales estimated at $4.5 billion. The company is owned by a family trust set up by German billionaire Theo Albrecht, ranked the 22nd richest man in the world by Forbes in 2004. He's the co-founder and CEO of German multi-national ALDI, with global revenue in grocery sales at $37 billion. According to Business Week, the decade of the 1990's saw Trader Joe's increase its profits by 1000%. Trader Joe's also compensates its employees aggressively, with starting salaries for supervisors at $40,000. They hire only non-union workers. Now, to any capitalist or business-minded person, there's nothing wrong with any of that (unless you're pro-union or anti-big business). It's a great company, and very successful. Trader Joe's customers are willing to pay their premium prices to get that healthful image. But they should not kid themselves that they're striking a blow at big business and supporting the little guy.

I'm not exactly sure why anticorporatism wound up on the organic food agenda, since it's so counterintuitive. The irony is that the organic food companies supply a smaller amount of food per acre planted, and enjoy dramatically higher profits, which is why anticorporatists hate corporations in the first place.

For more information about organic food as big business, go to consumerfreedom.com and do a search for organic foods.

Organic foods are healthier to eat.

Did you ever wonder why Chinese drink only hot tea? They boil it to kill the bacteria. Most local Chinese farming uses organic methods, in that the only fertilizers used are human and animal waste: Without being boiled, it's basically a nice cup of E. coli. In the case of China and other poor Asian nations, the reason for organic farming has less to do with ideology and more to do with lack of access to modern farming technology.

The National Review reports that Americans believe organic food is healthier by a 2-1 margin, despite the lack of any evidence supporting this. When you take the exact same strain of a plant and grow it in two different ways, its chemical and genetic makeup remain the same. One may be larger than the other if one growing method was more efficient, but its fundamental makeup and biochemical content is defined by its genes, not by the way it was grown. Consumer Reports found no consistent difference in appearance, flavor, or texture. A blanket statement like "organic cultivation results in a crop with superior nutritional value" has no logical or factual basis.

Some supporters of organic growing claim that the danger of non-organic food lies in the residues of chemical pesticides. This claim is even more ridiculous: Since the organic pesticides and fungicides are less efficient than their modern synthetic counterparts, up to seven times as much of it must be used. Organic pesticides include rotenone, which has been shown to cause the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and is a natural poison used in hunting by some native tribes; pyrethrum, which is carcinogenic; sabadilla, which is highly toxic to honeybees; and fermented urine, which I don't want on my food whether it causes any diseases or not. Supporters of organics claim that the much larger amounts of chemicals they use is OK because those chemicals are all-natural. But just because something is natural doesn't mean that it's safe or healthy consider the examples of hemlock, mercury, lead, toadstools, box jellyfish neurotoxin, asbestos not to mention a nearly infinite number of toxic bacteria and viruses (E. coli, salmonella, bubonic plague, smallpox). When you hear any product claim to be healthy because its ingredients are all natural, be skeptical. By no definition can "all natural" mean that a product is healthful.

Consider the logical absurdity proposed by those who claim conventional growers produce less healthful food. To the organically minded, conventional growers are evil greedy corporations interested only in their profit margin. What's the best way to improve the profit margin? To buy less pesticides and fertilizer. This means they must use far more advanced and efficient products. The idea that pesticides leave dangerous residues is many decades out of date. Food production is among the most regulated and scrutinized of processes, and today's synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are completely biodegradable. They're supported by decades of studies that demonstrate their total safety.

In the United States, 2006 brought two major outbreaks of E. coli, both resulting in deaths and numerous illnesses, ultimately traced to organically grown spinach and lettuce. According to the Center for Global Food Issues, organic foods make up about 1% of all the food sold in the United States, but it accounts for 8% of E. coli cases.

Organic growing methods are better for the environment.

Organic methods require about twice the acreage to produce the same crop, thus directly resulting in the destruction of undeveloped land. During a recent Girl Scout field trip to Tanaka Farms in Irvine, California, one of the owners told us his dirty little secret that contradicts what you'll find on his web site. Market conditions compelled them to switch to organic a few years ago, and he absolutely hates it. The per-acre yield has been slashed. Organic farming produces less food, and requires more acreage.

Many so-called environmentalists generally favor organic farming, at the same time that they protest deforestation to make room for more agriculture. How do they reconcile these directly conflicting views? If you want to feed a growing population, you cannot do both, and soon won't be able to do either. If you support rainforest preservation, logically you should oppose organic farming, particularly in the developing world. On the other hand, if you demand organic soybeans, then you should have the courage to stand up and say that you don't care whether black and brown people around the world have enough to eat or not.

I'm not making this stuff up. For every dreadlocked white kid beating a bongo drum in favor of organics, there is a Ph.D. agriculturist warning about its short sightedness and urging efficient modern agriculture to feed our growing population. Personally I like forests and natural areas, so I favor using the farmlands that we already have as efficiently as possible. This benefits everyone. I say we dump the useless paranormal objections to foods freighted with evil corporate hate energy, and instead use our brains to our advantage for once. When we find a better way to grow the same crop faster, stronger, healthier, and on less acreage, let's do it. We all benefit.
 

Offline Make it Lady

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #12 on: 20/01/2009 18:48:15 »
I think where ever possible you should know more about what you are putting in your body. I shop as locally as I can and at farm shops and farmers markets so I can ask questions about the food. My food bill is higher but I make cuts elsewhere like buying my clothes from charity shops. I also buy fair trade if I need products that can't be bought locally.
I do have some figures for energy use and organic produce but also local organic food does mean you use much less energy.
My next aim is to campaign to cut down on unnecessary packaging on food products.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #13 on: 20/01/2009 19:53:00 »
Quote
My next aim is to campaign to cut down on unnecessary packaging on food products.

Why just food products?
 

Offline Make it Lady

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« Reply #14 on: 20/01/2009 20:18:52 »
You have to start somewhere.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #15 on: 20/01/2009 20:35:53 »
Well start from the premise that there is too much packaging, full stop. Gawd, do I have to think of everything  ::)
 

Offline Make it Lady

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« Reply #16 on: 20/01/2009 21:11:47 »
It is better than apathy and thinking of nothing at all.
 

Offline Karsten

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #17 on: 20/01/2009 21:39:10 »
For Dentstudent: I quote you in little <<snippets>>. Sorry if this is difficult to follow in this format:

<<... Certainly, there are different pesticides used and so on to comply with the rules to make something "organic", but generally the farming methods are identical, and therefore use the same energy.>>

Are you forgetting the energy and resources it takes to make those industrial products? Fermented urine is easier to make than artificial fertilizer. Without fossil fuels and petrochemical products your industrial agriculture collapses completely. Taking the energy to make those products, transport them, distribute them, etc. out of the calculation unfairly skews your comparison in your favor.

<<...Organic food is more expensive than conventional food, due not only to its lower crop yields and more expensive organic fertilizers and pesticides in larger quantities, but mainly because it's such a big fad right now and is in such high demand.>>

Prices are determined by the market. Nothing is more expensive than it can be (at least not for very long) and nothing is sold for less money that it can be either. That has nothing to do with "organic". But let's not forget that industrial agriculture is a business interested in making profits as well. Is it more ethical to make business with the dependence and survival of millions of extremely poor people than with charging rich, well-fed Americans and Europeans high prices for organic food?

<<...All right, let's take for granted the position that major food producers deserve to be struck with a blow. I'm sure the starving millions in Africa appreciate the sentiment.>>

Would there be millions of people starving in Africa if they had a functional agriculture that is not dependent on our industrial products, does not require a limited source of energy to function, leaves the soil intact, and functions at levels that allows a population to develop that is sustainable?

<<...California alone produces over $600 million in organic produce, most of it coming from just five farms, who are also the same producers of most non-organic food in the state. 70 percent of all organic milk is controlled by just one major milk producer.>>

That is very interesting indeed.

<<... But they should not kid themselves that they're striking a blow at big business and supporting the little guy.>>

You could support the little guy by buying local, organic food at the Farmer's market. Buying anything local is eco-smarter than buying anything from far away, organic or not.

<<... Food production is among the most regulated and scrutinized of processes, and today's synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are completely biodegradable. They're supported by decades of studies that demonstrate their total safety.>>

Biodegradable over what period of time? Weeks, months, years? Yes, that matters a lot. Does it take so long for some of those herbicides to biodegrade that I cannot grow anything other than the matching food crop (supplied by the same company that supplied the herbicide) for years? Can a small farmer afford to do this? Can I assume that when I stop using the industrial product in question it will be gone in time for my new crop to not be influenced by it?

<<...Organic farming produces less food, and requires more acreage.>>

Agreed, assuming current machine-based methods, the want to eliminate human labor, and that the current human population is sustainable. Sooner or later we will have tipped the balance and have more humans than land to feed them. In my opinion we have already reached this point. Sustainable farming (which local, organic farming more likely is) may need more land and feed fewer people, but it is sustainable and results in stability of the population rather than growth for decades and the occasional catastrophic collapse.

<<...Many so-called environmentalists generally favor organic farming,at the same time that they protest deforestation to make room for more agriculture. How do they reconcile these directly conflicting views? If you want to feed a growing population, you cannot do both, and soon won't be able to do either. If you support rainforest preservation, logically you should oppose organic farming, particularly in the developing world. On the other hand, if you demand organic soybeans, then you should have the courage to stand up and say that you don't care whether black and brown people around the world have enough to eat or not.>>

Environmentalist come in many shades. Many work against each other. That is quite unfortunate. Reconciliation is often impossible. We all want what is best but cannot agree how to get it. The current world population is not sustainable even with industrially produced food. That has nothing to do with caring or not caring. It won't change if you care about this or don't. Or say it or not.  6.5 Billion people on this planet is not sustainable. I fear a huge collapse of human populations to occur while I am still alive. Hundreds of millions will die. It will be terrible and we will not be able to do anything about it. It will happen soon or it will happen later, but sooner of later the habitat will be so over-populated that a natural correction of the population occurs.

<<... When we find a better way to grow the same crop faster, stronger,healthier, and on less acreage, let's do it. We all benefit.>>

Yes, but let's not forget long-term effects and embodied energy. Sustainability has to be the ultimate goal because otherwise WE DO NOT BENEFIT! People suffer terribly if we ignore the impacts of our actions decades down the road. It is of course easier said than done, but many of those who have benefited from modern, industrial agriculture and the loss of independence and soil fertility that may come with it, may not be here today to suffer from the collapse tomorrow. "Thanks for allowing me to be born and be alive today - now I and my family have to die slowly tomorrow!" I can't speak for those people. But the industry and those who meant well could not either and they did it anyways. Helping people to come into existence that could not have done so without your help and now suffer or are dependent on your continued support to survive is not more ethical than letting nature run its course. We messed up badly over many decades. We meant well, I am sure. Profits could be made too. But don't tell those who point out unsustainable solutions with terrible results to keep making the mistakes so that the consequences of those mistakes occur later (ideally after we are dead and don't bother us). We have thought short-term and developed methods to allow millions of people to grow up. Industrial agriculture was part of this. Despite the fact that it just cannot continue to go on like this (and we may have known better), we continue. Even more ironic, those who point out this man-made dilemma are considered unethical. The people who developed methods to feed millions of human for a few decades (but unfortunately not much longer) have a responsibility to bear.

I don't know what to do either. It is a dilemma. It just makes no sense to me to pretend it is not there and claim moral high grounds when talking to those who want to stop the plundering of our planet before it is too late. We need to let those who became dependent on our unsustainable methods become independent. Maybe the only way to do this is to wait it out. Whoever survives, survives. Great. Just great.

      
   
 

Offline Karsten

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #18 on: 20/01/2009 21:46:12 »
In a few words: Good intentions or not, sustainability must be the goal otherwise people suffer. Supporting unlimited population growth results in human suffering. Events occurring after your life-time has ended still matter. Organic, local foods should require less energy because they are not dependent on human-made, petro-chemical products.
 

Offline Make it Lady

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« Reply #19 on: 20/01/2009 21:50:50 »
My friend works on GM foods and I actually think that this could be the answer. Obviously we have to tread carefully but feeding the world does need radical but sustainable ideas.
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #20 on: 20/01/2009 21:55:02 »
I wonder if the term "organic" comes from the fact that often inorganic chemistry is used to increase yields in (what we not ironically call) traditional agriculture. Of course much of this industrial-scale agriculture now uses organic chemistry as well.

It is a dumb word anyways. It should be called "sustainable" agriculture.

Organic has many meanings today. A quick Google search resulted in this:
# relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis; "hydrocarbons are organic compounds"
# being or relating to or derived from or having properties characteristic of living organisms; "organic life"; "organic growth"; "organic remains found in rock"
# involving or affecting physiology or bodily organs; "an organic disease"
# of or relating to foodstuff grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or hormones; "organic eggs"; "organic vegetables"; "organic chicken"
# simple and healthful and close to nature; "an organic lifestyle"
# a fertilizer that is derived from animal or vegetable matter
# constituent(a): constitutional in the structure of something (especially your physical makeup) 
 

Offline Karsten

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« Reply #21 on: 20/01/2009 21:58:20 »
My friend works on GM foods and I actually think that this could be the answer. Obviously we have to tread carefully but feeding the world does need radical but sustainable ideas.

Check out this video (The World According to Monsanto). You may change your mind about GMOs. Take your time, it is worth it.
http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/the-world-according-to-monsanto-a-documentary-that-americans-wont-ever-see-full-video/
 

Offline Karsten

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Organic eggs?
« Reply #22 on: 23/01/2009 01:11:31 »
What do you think about "cholesterol-free" fire wood? How about "fat-free" bottled water? "Dolphin-safe" spinach?
 

Offline JimBob

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« Reply #23 on: 23/01/2009 17:03:13 »
What do you think about "cholesterol-free" fire wood? How about "fat-free" bottled water? "Dolphin-safe" spinach?

I eat them all the time.
 ;D
 

Offline Make it Lady

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« Reply #24 on: 23/01/2009 17:38:46 »
Bags of nuts that say "May contain nuts"
 

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