Farm Press Blog

The arrogance of organics is annoying

• I have nothing against folks growing, buying and eating organic food. • I am not tempted to pay an extra 30 cents for an organic apple. • But a person’s eating choices are none of my business.

I don’t think there is anyone more self-righteous than an ex-smoker.

Something about jumping off the nicotine carousel seems to compel the new non-smoker to proclaim the evils of what Rudyard Kipling called “the great god Nick o’ Teen.” And I’m not sure I blame them. Research has shown nicotine to be more addictive than heroin and the health benefits of quitting are certainly nothing to cough at. I’ve read that the day after one gives up smoking the lungs begin to clear up and circulation begins to improve.

Consequently, I’m inclined to grant a bit of leniency to ex-smokers who want to boast a bit about quitting. I’ll listen. I’ll encourage. I’ll even pat them on the back and say good for you and best of luck.

But I’m not so certain I can be quite as magnanimous with a new-age conceit—the arrogance of organics.

As I’ve said many times, I have nothing against folks growing, buying and eating organic food. I have nothing against people wearing organic fabric. I think organic agriculture serves an important function.

I appreciate the opportunity organic production provides landowners with a few acres and a lot of energy. Organic agriculture offers them a means to fill a niche in local markets and to attract a clientele eager to buy their products. That’s good business. It’s sound economics. Organic agriculture gives local farmers the means to compete with industry heavy-weights.

I rarely buy organic, however. I am not tempted to pay an extra 30 cents for an organic apple. I have more confidence in the safety of traditionally-produced fruits and vegetables.

I’m also not apt to grant concessions to those who would preach to me about the health benefits of a vegan diet. I don’t begrudge them their choices. If soy burgers and bean curd lasagna appeal to them, I wish them bon appétit.

I like chicken—baked, stewed, grilled or fricasseed. I enjoy a juicy ham, surrounded by sweet potatoes. A tender Kansas City strip steak cooked medium rare has little competition as far as good eats go. And a thick hamburger, grilled in my own backyard and topped off with a home-grown slice of tomato may be as good a meal as I could ask for—except maybe for bacon and eggs or fried catfish and hushpuppies. And I won’t turn my nose up at a Thanksgiving turkey, either.

So what is it about organic and vegan that makes people want to evangelize, convert the masses to their way of eating? I do not proselytize to them. I do not to knock on their doors with pamphlets and tracts declaring conventional and carnivorous diets as the only way to health and happiness.

I might try to talk someone out of a bad habit on occasion. But a person’s eating choices are none of my business. Vegan or organic, it’s their choice to make. I pretty much leave them alone. And expect the same in return.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

KPSKhalsa (not verified)
on Jun 14, 2012

Like quitting smoking, eating organic and/or vegan is something that usually makes the person feel better, happier and healthier. Pardon our enthusiasm but wouldn't this be a better world if folks felt healthier and happier? I will always at least listen to someone's enthusiasm openly and gracefully. I will never turn from someone who has something to say they think will improve my life. I also reserve the right to say nay or yea. Wouldn't this world be a better place if we all had the pleasance of mind to listen respectfully to our fellow man (or woman) about what inspires them be it a faith, a diet or a lifestyle?

on Jun 14, 2012

I think perhaps if the majority of vegans I've met were as open-minded to my lifestyle, as I am to lifestyles other than mine, I would be less likely to openly deride theirs. Things such as they are, the majority of vegans I've met (a good friend included) take every opportunity to let me know how my diet destroys both my body and the environment. It seems that no matter how patiently and respectfully I LISTEN to their points, they WAIT TO TALK. While I would agree that the world would be a better place if we would all listen respectfully to each other, I will continue to do unto others as they do unto me. If you choose to stand outside of a circus displaying pictures of the worst possible conditions circus animals have ever been subjected to, presumably only to upset children, that's not respect. You reap what you sow.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 14, 2012

I'm pretty darn happy and healthy and don't consume organics!!! And organic does not automatically equal healthy, people can be responsible and make wise decisions on their own.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 15, 2012

I don't know that i could tell the difference between an organically grown tomato or a conventionally grown one aside from the almost perfectness in size and color of a conventionally grown one, but i do know 2 things: the first is that a home grown (in the garden) tomato is hands down better tasting than one that was picked green in who knows where and served up on a supermarket shelf, and secondly, organic farming practices are sustainable (as far as one could possibly expect) whereas conventional practices are not. Where is it written that America must feed the world at the expense of depleting our crop lands and the natural processes that "should" be nurtured?

on Jun 15, 2012

Organic production is not actually sustainabile. Without modern production techniques, including herbicides and pesitcides, producing organic crops on a scale large enough to feed this country, let alone the world, would require much more labor than is available. It also would require breaking out even more acreage, using more fossil fuels and creating more pollution. As I wrote, I have nothing against organic produce, other than the cost is too high for what you get, but sustainability is not one of its virtues. But I agree with you about the tomatoes.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 15, 2012

We all suffer from the dilusions of superiority and rightousness of our choices. After all most farmers have to have the latest, biggest and loaded pickup for $40K when a $10K Toyota would do if we were honest about it. So how do we justify spending an extra $30K? We argue safety primarily. The same aspproach is used by vegetarians who are concerned about the safety of our food supply. Ag producers seem to forget an imprtant rule about the sale of product - the customer is always right. Th elimitation of agriculture is that we fail to give value to the safety concerns in the market place which organic does, right or wrong.

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