Sunday, September 12, 2004

Some Washington Schools Go Organic for Lunch

The tempting smell of pepperoni pizza drifted through the air as students poured into the cafeteria. But 11-year-old Cameron Landry walked straight past the cheesy slices and started piling organic lettuce, pita pockets and blueberries on his tray.


While fried chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers still reign supreme in most cafeterias, a small but growing number of schools are turning to organic food as a way to improve children's health and fight obesity.

The Seattle school district recently adopted a new policy banning junk food and encouraging organic food in school cafeterias. California school districts in Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Palo Alto have organic food programs. And through a program sponsored by the organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, schools in Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and Connecticut have or are getting new vending machines stocked with all-organic treats.

As always, read the whole thing. Here is my take on the whole organic movement (ohmygosh, another list):

  1. Taste: Vegetables taste more like vegetables. They are "gamier." Broccoli and asparagus have more flavor, but they are smaller and must be cooked more quickly before they wilt and go bad. Organic meats taste better...more like they are supposed to; maybe more primitive. There is something about lacking bulking hormones and being doped up on antibiotics (what, are we asking for a supervirus?) that just plain tastes better than regular beef. Even ground beef and turkey actually taste like what they are. Once you've had Oregon Painted Hills beef, it is hard to go back to Texas rawhide super-ranch beef.

  2. Local: There is something wonderful about helping your neighbor. Of course, there are family farms that are non-organic, but there is something truly ruggedly individualistic (as a certain Oxycontin-addicted Limbaugh would say) about a local organic farmer. Keep an eye out at your local farmer's market and take care of your neighbors...although some may need to travel to Salinas or something.

  3. Non-petroleum based:. Modern high-yield farming requires a great deal of fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. How are these produced? Oil, mein freunds und freundens. What happens, as it inevitably will, when oil gets up to $70, $80, $90 a barrel or more? Food will, all of a sudden, get much more expensive. People will naturally look around for similar ways of doing the same job as petro-agricultural compounds. Consider organic farmers the technologists of the future. They are using technology to develop ways of increasing yield without straining the land in a way that requires oil we cannot afford to use.

  4. Non-corporate: Don't get me wrong. I am a total capitalist and I believe in choice. However, the ADMs and ConAgras have made a living off of sponging money off of taxpayers to not grow this, not grow that, stay competitive with third world countries, etc. Heck, let's be real Republicans and throw them to the sharks of the real market. Organic farms must live without most of the subsidies of these giants. It is part of the price of true independence. The chances for mad cow disease drop by orders of magnitude when eating organic beef. Organic growers aren't pushing the envelope in such dangerous ways. Don't be fooled, though. Technology and innovation abound in organic agriculture.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the rightful heir to the practical value of Martha Stewart coupled with the goodness of local support and true individual capitalism: Mary Jane Butters. We've visited her farm and her operation combines modern sense with traditional values to make good food for all. Check her out here. She rocks. Ladybug will certainly concur. Also, her dried foods kick total a*s over the usual backpacker food: MSG-laden headache producing crap. Get yourself some panbread or brownies for starters and you'll be hooked.

If you don't show your wives this post; I will be obliged to kick your collective butts (unless you are heterosexual women or homosexual men of course).

1 comment:

The Moody Minstrel said...

That's one of the reasons why it's always nice to live out in the country. You may have to drive a ways to get any real shopping done or find any modern entertainment (and there's that smell of damp manure every morning...), but there are definite advantages to being surrounded by neighbors that consist largely of retirees that have recently taken up small-time farming just to have something to do (and possibly earn a bit of extra income). I definitely have no complaint about the old ladies that come by every week with a bag of this or that from their fields, all organically grown mainly because they'd rather not shell out the cash for the chemicals!

Actually, I think the corporate feudalism gripping both the country I'm from and the one I live in stifles capitalism more than it manifests it. When you have one conglomerate, monopoly, or cartel making all the decisions, your freedom of choice goes right down the sewer. I think it's worse here than in the U.S.. After all, I've never had an American business tell me, "Sorry, we don't have what you want, and we can't help you, because everyone else wants THIS. Naturally, you probably should be wanting THIS, too." On the other hand, I have had such experiences on several occasions here in Japan. (Heck, even Canon U.S.A. made me a perfectly good OS/2 driver for my printer when Canon Japan just said, "Sorry, we only support Apple and Microsoft.")

And since I'm on a "low-or-no" meat diet, I REALLY care about my vegetables!