Point and Laugh

Peta is funny:

A protest against the manner in which chickens are slaughtered for fast-food chain KFC drew additional customers rather than drive them away from the local outlet in this northern Utah city.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protest against KFC drew 10 sympathetic people, including someone dressed in a chicken costume, on Monday. But at one point, around lunchtime, more than 30 people stood in line to order chicken to eat.

``I think there's a place in this world for all of God's creations ... right next to the mashed potatoes,'' said Rusty Smith, a KFC customer who sat on a patch of grass outside the restaurant with a group of co-workers, watching the protest.



In other news I have recently decided that I will no longer eat organic food of any kind. For those of you wondering why the F#### I'd be eating organic food to begin with the answer is simple. In austin organic food is a huge market, and there are multiple grocery stores to meet the demand. As a result half the people I know buy organic food, and typically bring organic food to potlucks and parties of which I might happen to be participating. Thus I've been known to eat organic every now and then.

While I was never fond of the "eat organic/whole foods" B.S. I've recently decided that I should make my stand against the trend explicit. In short I don't want to contribute to a market that's based upon fear, paranoia, ignorance, and a whole lot of fear-mongering by groups such as greenpeas (greenpeace). Let me put it this way: Whole Foods (austin's large organic grocery store) has gone so far as to produce and market organic tampons.


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Eh, I haven't heard anything

Eh, I haven't heard anything about organic food having enviromental benefits, either. It's really about not causing further harm as opposed to eliminating the harm caused altogether- a compromise libertarians have to make a lot, it seems, since a lot of people will always choose an extra couple bucks over supporting ethical companies. I think it's the responsibility of responsible capitalists not to go that route. If we're trusting companies enough not to have the government telling them how to do business, we have to take on the added responsibility of keeping an eye on them ourselves.

Not being much of an eco-type myself, I can't really say what comes first in their minds (the human risk or the environmental damange.) But I can safely guess- knowing that "you're killing trees!" won't really scare people away from processed food as much as "you're killing babies!" will- that it might just be a marketing ploy. Or, as Rainbough mentioned, propaganda. Doesn't make the truth of the harm agro-industrial farming causes to the environment any less true, though.

Those are valid concerns A.

Those are valid concerns A. Jean, but from my own knowledge and the initial post I was under the impression that among these eco-types they were secondary to direct human health risks like with the tampon thing. I might be inclined to support organic food if it could be shown to have significant environmental benefits, but I'm not aware if this is the case or not.

fear, paranoia, ignorance,

fear, paranoia, ignorance, and a whole lot of fear-mongering by groups such as greenpeas (greenpeace). Let me put it this way: Whole Foods (austin’s large organic grocery store) has gone so far as to produce and market organic tampons.

I checked the wikipedia article and it indicated that the issues are "contentious", and most of the concern lies with toxic effects of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers (so the tampon example is obviously silly). Why do you think their claims are fear-mongering propaganda?

Because their concerns,

Because their concerns, particularly those regarding genetically modified plants are not based on any actual scientific data.

BTW the tampon thing is not

BTW the tampon thing is not silly to the serious pesticide-fearing organic consumer. The tampons are made from organically grown/pesticide free cotton, thereby eliminating the possibility in their minds of inserting pesticides directly into their bodies via a non-organic tampon.

While the

While the "organically-grown" fad may be nuts, the nutritional supplement industry really does fill actuals needs, and my impression is that's why the libertarian John Mackey founded Whole Foods Markets in the first place. Consider:

1. Serotonin, an important chemical produced in the brain, is considered essential for relaxation, concentration, sleep and calmness. Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw of "Life Extension" and "Future of Freedom Conference" fame have been extolling its virtues for years. Its lack or suppression can lead to severe mental disturbances and even violent behavior. To make serotonin the body requires sufficient levels of magnesium, tryptophan and vitamin B-6, nutrients which many nutritionists say American diets are severely deficient in, but which medical doctors rarely run tests for -- even when they prescribe medications which depend on adequate serotonin levels (which is often!), and even when just taking supplements for those missing nutrients may be all that is needed.

2. There are about 20,000 deaths a year in the U.S. because of illegal drugs, and about 200,000 deaths, or ten times as many, because of prescription (legal) drugs, including the homicides and suicides from "serotonin re-uptake inhibiters" and other so-called anti-depressives.

3. Most American medical doctors have taken no more than 5 hours of nutrition classes in medical school if any at all, yet they are subjected to dozens and dozens of presentations by pharmaceutical company representatives on patent medications every year. That's why millions of people read books on nutrition by Durk and Sandy and hundreds of other better-educated nutritionists and patronize stores like Whole Foods Market.

Hell, as a libertarian I'm

Hell, as a libertarian I'm all for organic food, particularly meat. I agree with you that it's somewhat ridiculous to consider eating processed foods (or even using processed cotton for a tampon) as much of a "health risk," and "propaganda" in that regard is silly. But if you genuinely care about animal cruelty, yet dislike the idea of companies being forced by the government to be less efficient, opting for organic/free range etc. meat is the way to go.

In fact, it sort it seems to be a prime example of "consumer-regulated" capitalism. A lot of us (or I, at least) assume that in a non-government regulated economy, if a business does something unethical but not necessarily illegal, it's up to informed consumers not to support it. Torturing animals is a little bit unethical in my mind, though clearly by our government's standards not illegal.

Not to mention that as far as produce goes, most of the arguments I hear in favor of organic food come from the harm that pesticides and industrial farming do to the enviroment, not people. I mean, you're always going to have paranoid folk rambling on about growth hormones, but the detrimental effects of the agro-industrial complex on soil, water, fish population, forests, and air are proven beyond doubt.

I enjoy reading this blog

I enjoy reading this blog regularly. It's fresh and very dynamic. But every now and then there's a post like this one, where libertarianism turns into exactly the charicature its enemies so enjoy to laught at.

It is not stupid to eat food that is not organic; likewise, it is not irrational (a product of fear or propaganda) to eat organic food either. It tastes better for the most part, and even if non-organic foods have no KNOWN downside so far, some people are more risk averse and prefer to go with the presumably safer option (even if that's just in their heads).

You would do well to be more thoughtful in your future posts.

As for tampons, if they are not organic, they contain some syntetic material, a.k.a. plastic, which can cause allergies and all sorts of other problems. While most women are fine using the syntetic tampons, some are not, and it's great that there is a market for them too now.

I don't ususally pull this off, but if you don't have breasts, (or use tampons), you should not be entitled to an opinion in this matter.

yours, a syntetic tampon survivor

The value of a piece of food

The value of a piece of food is in its taste, texture, response to care and cooking, etc. If organic food wins on these points, then your refusal to buy it is utility-minimizing across the board.

I find that organic produce is often slightly superior, and organic meats far superior, to their non-organic counterparts. I doubt this is because they are organic; it is probably because the producers have found a way around the one-size-fits-all labeling of most foods, using the "organic" label and higher price to signal higher quality.

Of course, I still draw the line at "no genetically-modified" whatevers. That's like advertising "grown by flat-earthers" on the label. But I am open to being convinced otherwise if the GMO-free label becomes a useful quality signal like the organic lable has.

Peta produces a pretty good

Peta produces a pretty good video or two documenting animal cruelty, and I think it's a perfectly legitimate concern. I'mnot a vegetarian, but I acknowledge that there may wellcome a time when (as sociologists have argued) we abandon meat and view thepractice of eating it as morally reprehensible. In much the same way, this post would read as if you had written "A grassrotts organization protesting slave sales at aninternational port was hilariously foiled when people came out in droves to buy more slaves." That's not funny; that's sick.

On a lighter note, do you guys remember the accusations (shown to be false) that KFC was producing chickens without a brain stem or beaks and so forth? I loved the implication for vegetarians though- animals without a brainstem can't feel pain so what's the objection toeating them or the way they are treated? If I were KFC I would actually start producing those chickens and then produce philosophical pamphlets based on the original article I wrote for Backwash. andpay me a hefty sum.


It tastes better for the

It tastes better for the most part, and even if non-organic foods have no KNOWN downside so far, some people are more risk averse and prefer to go with the presumably safer option (even if that’s just in their heads).

I love the brazen argument-from-ignorance and weasel-language in this one; there are no "known" downsides so far, yet some are "risk averse" and hence need the "presumably" safer option.

You would do well to be more thoughtful in your future posts.

Why? Rainbough obviously believes that the pro-organic food crowd are engaged in fear-mongering propaganda, so why shouldn't he criticize them?

I don’t ususally pull this off, but if you don’t have breasts, (or use tampons), you should not be entitled to an opinion in this matter.

Sounds like an appeal to authority to me.

I’mnot a vegetarian, but I acknowledge that there may wellcome a time when (as sociologists have argued) we abandon meat and view thepractice of eating it as morally reprehensible. In much the same way, this post would read as if you had written “A grassrotts organization protesting slave sales at aninternational port was hilariously foiled when people came out in droves to buy more slaves.” That’s not funny; that’s sick.

Possibly. It's clear you and those sociologists already view the eating of meat as morally reprehensible, at least. :juggle:

As it is near the

As it is near the anniversary of the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and we are in an age of argumentation via ridiculous comparisons, I suggest that PETA might be able to buttress its arguments among today’s young people by comparing Colonel Sanders to Harry Truman.

First, it's worth pointing

First, it's worth pointing out that some factory farms do treat chickens in horrifyingly bad ways. The complaints about KFC allege that they purchase chicken from farmers who cut off the beaks of the chickens using hot knives. This practice is less common than it used to be, interestingly, because McDonalds (the world's largest purchaser of eggs) decided to stop buying eggs from farmers who removed chicken beaks.

The reason that some farmers engage in the practice? Chickens like to have space; they naturally roam around free, after all. When they are forced into overly-close confinement, they become aggressive and try to kill one another using...you guessed it...their beaks. Cutting of beaks makes it possible to overcrowd chickens without them killing one another. Unfortunately, chickens also rely on their beaks for interacting with the world. For a chicken, in fact, touch (via its beak) is its primary sense, much like smell for dogs or sight for humans. So to cut off a chicken beak is to do something on the order of blinding a human or destroying a dog's sense of smell.

Now consider that this is done largely to make chicken cheaper. And consider, too, that it's really not necessary to eat chicken to survive. Going to KFC (assuming that they really do purchase chickens from such places) means that you're willing to torture a chicken for 15 minutes of chicken-eating enjoyment. If I told you that I, say, jammed things into puppy noses to destroy their sense of smell because, for a few minutes, I got a kick out of it, well, I doubt anyone here would put me in jail for it (you're moslty anarchists, after all :smile:), but probably very few of you would want your kids playing over at my house.

It happens that I don't eat very much meat (largely because it's not very good for you and it's rather cruel to the animal in question). I don't think that chickens or cows or the like have any rights, but I do think that it's wrong to cause unnecessary suffering. That means that it is possible to eat meat morally; one just needs to eat meat that hasn't been tortured first. That means eating grass (or, for chickens, grain) fed, free range meat. Whole Foods is a great place to get such things. Indeed, in my part of the world (NC), it's pretty much the _only_ place to get such things.

I don't much get the organic thing for fruit and vegetables. Most pesticides aren't really all that bad for the environment, and if you don't want to eat them, well, you can always wash your food before you eat it.

There are a lot of people who are pretty irrational about organic stuff. On the other hand, there are also a lot of people who just like good food, and Whole Foods is a great place to get lots of things that are hard to find elsewhere (foreign foods, really great cheese, decent wine at better prices than wineshops, etc.)

Puppies are much cuter than

Puppies are much cuter than chickens.

Organic farming is bad for

Organic farming is bad for the environment, in the sense that the radically reduced productivity of the land involved requires far more area under cultivation to make up for it. It also tends to leach the soil of nutrients as well.

That we don't notice these things on a wide scale is because, thankfully, the vast majority of farmers aren't superstitious luddites and actually want to grow more food for less energy input. Organic farmers in the US are free-riding off of scientific farmers. If the world shifted to wholly organic processes, not only would almost all of the forested land in the first world need to be cut down for farms, but we'd still end up with mass starvation, again due to the incredible low yield of 'organic' methods. Thanks, but no thanks. 3 Billion starved to death and the loss of every forest in the northern hemisphere is not a good compromise.

CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are another story indeed. Concentrated animal waste is a major local pollutant that is inadequately dealt with under current legal regimes (which includes copious EPA regulation). I can understand rejecting CAFO type meat production, though that really just rules out chicken.

NOTA BENE for everyone -

NOTA BENE for everyone - Rainbough, again, is a WOMAN, not a man.

They're probably just

They're probably just confused because of Johnny Cash's classic song, "A Boy Named Rainbough."

I hereby propose a corollary

I hereby propose a corollary to Godwins Law: any organic product proponent loses their debate when they demonstrate multiple times they can't spell "synthetic".... (this goes along with anti-nukers who cannot pronounce nuclear right).

BTW: ANY food tastes better when it is eaten on the same day it was picked, versus food that is trucked across the country. Organic food is more likely to be locally grown.

Free range meat is qualitatively better for you than farm meat, but doesn't necessarily taste better, primarily because farm meat is higher in fat, and fat improves taste for any food in a taste test.

"You keep what you kill.."

“Let me put it this way,

“Let me put it this way, Let me put it this way: Whole Foods (Austin’s large organic grocery store) has gone so far as to produce and market organic tampons.”
Here is a little knowledge from way back there that would seem to contradict your point though I agree with your point. What it shows is that we go into the future partially blind but I say so what. So has it always been. Tampons used to be made from cotton. In the late 70’s or 1980 a new brand of super-absorbent tampon was introduced which contained a synthetic fiber, constructed of polyester foam and a special type of highly absorbent cellulose.( insoluble carboxymethyl cellulose) Soon a new disease ( toxic shock syndrome) was observed which epidemiologists traced back to the introduction of this material. Of course this has nothing to do with organic vs. non-organic. For instance a similar device was patented using organic peat moss as its source of super-absorbent material.
1) Quite a few women died.
2) The lawyers got rich.
3) Human knowledge was advanced.


As indicated in previous

As indicated in previous comments, the issues that organic agriculture remedies are big picture environmental ones. There is really nothing to indicate that organics are safer or healthier to you as one person.

The problem is in the marketing. Explanations of sustainable and organic agriculture, the environmental impacts of pesticide use (and antibiotic use in meat production), etc. are a difficult to communicate through traditional marketing. Much easier and effective to appeal to the strong desire people have to provide food for themselves and their families that is safe and healthy. The Organic Trade Association has set up a research organization to try and find evidence that organic foods are more nutritious and/or safer than those produced through chemical intensive agriculture. This would allow them to actually make these sorts of claims outright, rather than subtly imply them and rely on organic fanatics to spread poor information. Haven't heard about any breakthroughs yet in their research.

Toxic shock syndrome is not

Toxic shock syndrome is not caused by tampons, organic or otherwise. The large outbreak you refer to in the 1980s was caused by the contamination of some tampons (the batch in question here happened to be synthetic, but TSS can also occur with cotton or natural fiber tampons) with staph bacteria. The link between tampons and TSS has never really been well explained, and men, children, and post-menopausal women do develop TSS sometimes in cases where the patients have skin infections, burns, or are recovering from surgery. There is no reason to believe that using a certain type of tampon will reduce or increase the TSS risk, although higher absorbancy tampons, regardless of the material they're made from, have been shown to increase the risk (the current working hypothesis is that the risk goes up the longer a woman wears a tampon, and high-absorbency tampons are worn for longer than low-absorbancy ones).

Now back to your regular, non-menstrual programming.

Whole foods does seem like a

Whole foods does seem like a perfectly good place to shop and it does carry a wider variety of foods than most grocery stores do. That doesn't change the fact that most of the organic market seems to be about paranoia regarding gmo's and pesticides. I have no problem with the store per say, and I also have no problem with people who think organic food taste better. I'm not going to argue with someone else's taste buds. What it comes down to for me is the impact of groups ranting about "frankenfoods" and pesticides. I have read about studies that show organic produce is more dangerous than non-organic because of the organic fertilizer which is typically manure of some type. You can eat a tomato right off the shelf that has residual pesticides on it. You can't eat one that has e.coli on it. The solution still is to wash your vegetables, but given that one forgot or didn't know their veggies were unwashed I would take pesticides any day to residual bacteria from manure.

Also while the large farm operations have been known to be destructive to the environment. I don't think the problem is their farming methods especially considering how low yield organic methods are. The problem is agricultural subsidies and the way epa regulations deal with polluters. We pay large farms (which split up their land into smaller units and assign ownership to employees to remain eligible for subsidies) to continue doing what they are doing and fine them a fraction of that amount if they make a mess. I haven't seen anything indicating that the farming methods themselves are a problem. It seems that the economic incentives for pollution are the real culprits, and the environmentalists are blaming the technology and money behind the business rather than the regulatory enviroment.

Thus the logic goes that the opposite of a high-tech approach is the ideal sollution. Does organic farming do anything to address the current regulatory enviroment surrounding agri-business? No. Does it create superior farming methods to those used by large farms? No. Does it help the environment? I don't see how it could. Does it help produce more food for those in developing nations? Actually organic farming is the antithesis of this. It's low yield and much of the market has grown out of fears of pesticides and gmo's. The gmo's they are referring to are crops that were designed to create greater crop yields in developing countries, in hopes that those countries might feed their people. Thanks to greenpeace and the general paranoia of the movement some of those countries are rejecting gmo's because enviromentalist convinced them they were dangerous.

What is their basis for that claim? Basically it goes like this: We've never modified organisms like this before, we don't know what will happen.

You cannot argue with people who are afraid of gmo's without having the argument from ignorance slapped in your face a couple times. Thats really all they have.

I’ve recently decided that

I’ve recently decided that I should make my stand against the trend explicit.

That should straighten people out.

_What is their basis for

_What is their basis for that claim? Basically it goes like this: We’ve never modified organisms like this before, we don’t know what will happen._

Not only is this an argument from ignorance, it's also just simply false. We eat all sorts of food that has been genetically modified, we just did it unsystematically in the past, using cross-breeding and the like. Now we know how to make the same kinds of modifications without having to wait while we breed 10 generations of plants to get what we're looking for.

So there is nothing new going on here at all. It's just the same old stuff farmers have done for thousands of years, only faster and in labs rather than in fields.

Here here! Being a former

Here here! Being a former plant gene jockey myself it always irritated me to hear ignorant stories about genetic modification, as if what the mesoamericans did to Teosinte (a scraggly weed with tiny, hard-shelled seeds with no cobs that was turned into Maize) was somehow less radical than putting a drought-tolerance gene into wheat. :roll:

Response to Amy Phillips --

Response to Amy Phillips -- The only thing I don’t find any documentary evidence of is the allegation that the tampons during the peak years of TSS were contaminated. In fact cultures of control women show a certain proportion that harbor the Staph ,the offending organism. The study you site finding no difference in fiber types, vs. incidence was done after the brand associated with the epidemic was removed from the market. (Pardon the information overload.) http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol5no6/hajjeh.htm

I few years ago I conducted

I few years ago I conducted a campaign of going into my local co-ops with my own custom made labels. See, the co-ops believe that consumer awareness is of prime importance, and had BGH, Bt, and other labels on everything EXCEPT all the organically grown foods. My labels all said "GENETICALLY MODIFIED, by randomized hybridization technology". I went about applying these to all the organic foods... they were official looking too. The next week I went in with labels saying "CONTAINS CARCINOGENS, ___ ppm concentration" and applied to all the organic vegetables that had naturally evolved carcinogens (according to government studies). I'm a bad bad boy...

Clearly we need government

Clearly we need government to stop the evil Mike Lorreys from preying on the innocent organic food vendors. :end: