Saturday, January 10, 2009

Organically speaking

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I was wondering the other day just how many people really can tell the difference in taste between organic and non-organic foods.


Say I was to line up three potatoes, or some lettuces, or strawberries even, and I told you that one was organically grown, one grown with old style pesticides and manmade fertilizers, and the other genetically modified. In a blindfold test, could you identify which was which?


I was a chef until recently and when it became fashionable to advertise organic foods on a menu, I fell in line. But I can honestly say that I could hardly ever justify the higher prices I had to pay in terms of taste.


It does of course take years of inactivity before a field can be considered ready for the production of organic crops, years during which those fields earn nothing for the farmer. Organic growing is more ‘hands on’ than conventional production with the resultant increase in labour costs. The amount of crops rejected due to poor quality is bound to higher. This all adds to the higher ticket price.


I’m certain that there is a lot of snobbishness where organic food is concerned. Some people like to be seen loading fruit and vegetables from the organic section into their shopping trolley. They like to tell their friends at a dinner party “these are organic peas of course. I get them from that little farmer chappy down the lane”


But maybe I’m the one that’s wrong. Perhaps I’m telling my taste buds to ignore the difference! Perhaps I should be championing the organic cause rather than questioning it.
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There is of course far more to the organic issue than taste and price. I am in no doubt that organic farming methods are of great benefit to the environment, not just in the short term but for future generations too.
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21 comments:

  1. A marvelous piece of writing I can almost taste it!

    What about organic booze? You should know albout that......

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  2. Ah - yes. To produce organic wine yellow flowering soursop is grown between the rows of grapevines.

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  3. You are right on the money. Most people couldn't tell the difference between organically grown produce and what the majority of us eat. It is now fashionable to eat organic and as a result costs more to do so. If the truth be known, the consumer has no idea what he is buying. Those that think they can tell are total putzes.

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  4. Well for being lost for words, you sure pulled it off okay. I got to sample a complete organic blog write and enjoyed it! :)

    Hope all is well with you.

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  5. And just how organic is the food labeled organic, anyway? Can we believe everything?

    Great post!

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  6. I agree... our taste buds could never discern the difference between organic or inorganic, but I suppose there's a case for how our bodies handle the differences. I'm by no stretch of the imagination an organic shopper, just today I bought all my veggies at the grocery store completely ignoring the little organic cart in the middle. Why? Because all the produce on the organic cart looks like rubbish that wouldn't last the day nevermind a few days in the veggie bin in my fridge!

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  7. I often wonder if everything we think is organic really is. I'm sure there are unethical practices out there! Can you tell I don't trust easily! Well written. I doubt I could tell the difference. However I usually buy produce from roadside stand. Many things are a grade B meaning they aren't always the perfect shape, or size. It gives me pleasure knowing that much of the produce is probably grown locally!

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  8. My brother decided to grow a field of organic soy beans. Of course, there were no weed killers or other chemicals used on the field. The weeds were more prolific than the beans, which means less crop and higher prices. I enjoyed reading your post.

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  9. Hi Keith,
    I had organic fish the other day, that was nice and you know free range eggs do taste so much better than those battery things.
    Cool post!

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  10. You went from stop to run in nothing flat. Indeed, the truth is here. I'm particularly fond of the 'similar' words...and you did find one I used even though I spelled it differently - more organic, perhaps. :)

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  11. boy for someone who didn't have an idea, you sure wrote an entertaining post! how about those people that have to order expensive bottled water at fancy restaurants? PA Leeessse!

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  12. i'd like to do organic, but i certainly don't like to pay the exorbitant prices either...

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  13. Yes I to think we are ripped off at the check out for the sake of fashion when it comes to organic food. Itis nice to think we are not getting those nasty chemicals from the food but it is too expensive and not as good quality as the other stuff and tastes no different.

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  14. I do not think I would be able to make out any difference either..may be there ain't any :)

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  15. The way you hear some people brag about all the organic food they eat, you'd assume that they do have an orgasm from eating them!

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  16. i don't think my tastebuds could discern organic from not.. and i'm sure you can make those ORG words relate somehow :D

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  17. I'm not sure anyone expects so-called organic food to taste better than non-organic (if there could be such a thing), but they consider the artificial pesticides to be more healthful. As someone who loves words, I often consider what a really non-organic food would be. Nails? Gravel? Ground glass? I think any plant or animal is, by definition, organic.

    I really enjoyed your post! Thank you.

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  18. nice one. since all i wanted to say has been said before, i will just add that buying from your local farmer, i feel, i much better then giving more money to big chain supermarket + the food does travel much less, which i find good. as for the taste. i find that strawberries which are noo genticly manipulated does taste much better, for the rest, i cannt tell.

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  19. organically speaking; organic is also about local and seasonal; organic produce has been overrated at times, but that didn't prevent me from tasting the difference..
    We've a choice and it's always wise to prioritise: as in choosing organic herbs over organic oranges since the latter have a thick skin...as so forth!

    nice strawberries ;)

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  20. Gah. You misunderstand the organic movement. It's not [just] about taste. Some organic food you just can't tell. It's about the health of the workers, the health of the fields, and the health of the planet. It's about everything in the food chain that consumes.

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  21. No, I can't tell the difference. I buy organic (when I can - not much opportunity around here) because it seems healthier both for us and the environment.

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