To spray or not to spray?

June 26, 2008

My passion for a healthy diet is about as passionate as my atheism, and yet, I’ve barely written of it here.

There is a specific issue I wish to address, and perhaps you faithful readers can offer your opinions on the matter.

First of all, I should say that I am a vegan – no meat, dairy, poultry, fish, eggs. I also do not eat any simple sugars – cane sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc. etc. (Read Sugar Blues by William Dufty.) No, I don’t listen to Victory Records bands or wear Earth Crisis or PETA hoodies. My philosophy is: I eat what I’m willing to kill. I am willing to pluck a carrot from the ground; I am unwilling to pluck a chicken.

My dilemma, however, is this: I buy organic exclusively. Yes, it does cost more – but I feel that it’s worth it to know that I’m not eating pesticides. I also strongly believe in buying, for example, an organic broccoli from the grocery store, which was trucked to that store from California (I live in New England) rather than buying a “conventionally” grown (sprayed) broccoli from the farm stand down the street.

I’ve taken hell for this from some environmentalists, who say my support of organic farming is actually harming the planet, due to long distances over which the handful of large organic farms need to ship their produce.

I say this: if I continue to support organic farming as fervently as I do and have, and as long as I remain vocal to the local farm stand about my feelings (“you know, if you didn’t spray your food, I’d buy my groceries here”), then demand will only increase for organic foods. And I also say that if I don’t take the best care of my own self – which, in my opinion, includes eating organic foods – then I won’t be able to live a long and healthy life, and that’s gotta count for something.

What d’y’all think?

10 Responses to “To spray or not to spray?”

  1. Sara Says:

    I too opt for organic over local pesticide produce. And I too tell the farmers at the farmer’s market that if they didn’t spray I would buy their stuff. Amazingly enough, some of the farmers at the FM I go to state that they do not use pesticides, so I also make it clear that that’s why I’m choosing to buy from their stand as opposed to their neighbors’. Yes, demand will increase the supply! Good for you! And yes, I am a vegan and consider myself an environmentalist – which means, to me, choosing the best option to make myself a healthier person (i.e. organic) over the transportation involved in getting it to me. The meat industry is doing way more damage regarding transport than organic produce, so’s the lesser of two evils (eating transported produce instead of eating meat), and there’s never going to be a perfect system unless we all go vegan and start growing our own organic produce in our own backyards to sustain ourselves. Sadly, a highly unlikely scenario…

  2. mindserased Says:

    Thanks, Sara, for the thoughtful response.

    I do notice that you and I are different sorts of vegans – correct me if I’m wrong. While I agree that, ideally, folks would “grow their own”, I also don’t mind that people raise animals for food, if they’re willing to kill them themselves. Would *I* do that? No, I wouldn’t. That’s why I don’t eat flesh. The agribusiness factory farms in the Midwest are a disgrace, yes. But the man who literally lives across the street from me who eats the cows he raises? I have no moral problem with that.

    Dairy, though – that’s a whole other matter. I gave up dairy because, IMHO, inter-species breast feeding is just unnatural.

    Just my .02 worth.

  3. michiko280 Says:

    Thought provoking blog…and responses!
    -Michelle 🙂

  4. Sara Says:

    We are different, but at the same time I think we’re similar (or at least are but at different points in the time-space continuum – I’m a science nerd). I guess I’m sort of conflicted about the ‘growing your own and killing your own meat’ issue. At first I thought it was ok (like you currently do), my relatives do this very thing (or used to until recently they went vegan for health reasons) – yeah, if they wanted the blood on their own personal hands, fine. Now, I of course would not. But now I go back and forth on the moral issue of self-raising and slaughtering – it’s biologically unnatural/unhealthy to consume meat (if you believe that we are true herbivores, as I do, from the perspective of science and the biological fauna of the gut differing between us and true carnivores/omnivores), but if one has no moral objections to taking the life of something for their own sustenance, is it truly morally wrong? Most ethical vegans would say – Yes, it’s wrong all together. But I don’t know..I’m still debating internally about it. Some would argue that if raising your own meat is acceptable, why is it not acceptable to kill your own child whom you gave life and raised (not that I would, that’s not where I’m going with this)? The only difference, on a basic biological level, is the classification of the species in question. One is human, the other non-human – but both are animals, both are sentient. Why is one acceptable to kill and not the other? Could this acceptance of animal slaughter over time allowed into our subconscious the acceptance of certain/specific human lives to be taken? These are the things I ponder…

  5. qazse Says:

    Stimulating discussion.

    “My philosophy is: I eat what I’m willing to kill. I am willing to pluck a carrot from the ground; I am unwilling to pluck a chicken.” Love it.

    Regarding your original question, we keep a chart on the kitchen bulletin board that indicates which fruits and vegetables are most likely to have contamination and which are least likely. We cut it out of the Nutrition Action Newsletter. It helps us to make buying decisions. For example, we always buy organic lettuce, spinach, and strawberries no matter where they came from as long as they are from the U.S. However, we buy broccoli, cabbage, and onions locally – even if non organic (given the choice we go organic). I know this is a compromise, but it allows us to support local and organic without jeopardizing our family food supply.

    Also, we planted a garden this spring and look forward to its clean and tasty bounty.

    We live in Pennsylvania but love Vermont. The best large grocery store I have ever been to is the City Market in Burlington. To me it is a vacation destination.


  6. DD Says:

    Sara: how would ethics come into play if I were to eat an animal that had died of natural causes? Clearly, it would not. Thus, arguing against meat-eating on ethical grounds does not follow. Arguing against killing other animals on ethical grounds is another matter, but dietary choice is not a necessary component of that argument.

    Also, unless you possess some unique data, science shows us to be omnivorous.

  7. Mardé Says:

    In Maine it appears that we have an excess population of deer even though the state is highly gun and hunter oriented. Not clear what the reasons for this excess are ultimately due to, but it’s not a good thing for us or the deer, in my opinion, especially considering ticks and Lyme disease. Even though I don’t hunt myself, I have a respect for the hunters, although there are some that surely exceed normal bounds and precautions. So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that, given the (necessary?) encroachments of humans into the natural preserves of animals, it may be realistic to “weed out” certain animal groups. Oh well, pretty wimpy argument I suppose but that’s my less that two cents on this peripheral topic to the main one — to spray or not to spray — under discussion.

  8. mindserased Says:

    Sara, I understand your point about raising an animal/raising a child. I know where you’re going with that. I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down about “as we treat animals, so goes how we treat each other” etc. etc.

    My *personal* belief about all sentient beings (which I will not go into at length here) was and is my primary reason for not eating meat (not to mention the kick-ass health benefits); however, as I’ve said, I really don’t have a problem with farm raised meat. I know there is much debate about whether or not the vegetarian diet is what humans are “meant” to follow. But diet is such a subjective thing – personally, I know what is right for me; I don’t presume to know what’s right for the next guy. So, I suppose you could say that I’m a libertarian vegetarian. Heh. I know this discussion has gotten a bit off topic, but such is the way of blogging, and it’s very interesting.

    Qazse – I also have been to the City Market in Burlington, and it is really great.

    Marde – If humans hadn’t believed all the stories we’ve heard for many generations about the “big bad wolf” and hunted them to near extinction and thereby fucking up the predator/prey balance in the first place, then we wouldn’t NEED the Department of Wildlife Management to issue hunting licenses to blood-thirsty trigger-happy humans to help “manage deer populations”.

  9. Mardé Says:

    Well, OK, Minds. I didn’t mean to stir you up. You certainly are right about the “big bad wolf” myth. And yes, our human culture has caused this horrible imbalance which now we find needs to be corrected. The Native Americans were able to live with the wild animals and respected them even as they killed them for food. Yes, that was a heck of a lot better than the way it’s done now. I don’t care for this Maine hunter/gun culture at all, either. It sure is awfully ingrown here. Peace.

  10. […] 20, 2009 Let me preface this post with a little bit about myself (although I’ve touched on this before):  I am a vegan, which means I do not eat any animal products whatsoever.  No meat, no dairy, […]

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