Archive for October, 2009

Industrial Organic


A passage from An Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan:

  A few years ago, at a a conference on organic agriculture in California, a corporate organic grower suggested to a small farmer struggling struggling to survive in the competitive world of industrial organic agriculture that” you should really try to develop a niche to distinguish yourself in the market.” Holding his fury in check, the small farmer replied as levelly as he could manage:“I believe I developed that niche twenty years ago. It’s called ‘organic.’ And you, sir, are sitting on it.”(Pollan, 169)

I loved this. I think that Organic farms going industrial is causing almost as much harm to the environment as the industrial farms. Granted it is a little better, but for how long. Production is only going to grow. Its going to keep growing till it eventually turns back into just a industrial farm. For the time being I suppose its still a better solution, but I thought we were supposed to try and make things better, or as good as we have it now for the future generations. This obviously just another way that we’re being taken advantages of, so more money can be made. This seems like its becoming the true” American way.” This seems so obvious since Grimmway  and Earthbound Farms control the market. (Pollan, 138 ) How do they expect the little farms that aren’t industrialized to compete?

-Alex Wallaert

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Industrial Organic Agriculture

pesticide_spray1a After the discussion we had in sustainability on industrial organic agriculture the other day really brought up an important issue we are a facing in this society. I personally feel that IOA contradicts itself. There is no way to have mass quantities of locally grown organics especially in our world today. People all want to buy cheap but healthy food, so of course industries are going to see this and take advantage of the situation, just like they do with America’s eating disorder, with cheap sugary treats and cheap fast food. They will slap an organic sticker on their product so people will believe they are buying one thing, but really purchasing the complete opposite; which will bring in more money. this is straight up trickery, no doubt about it. It is all about making the dollar in America. If you take a small local farm and start giving it a lot of business, of course they are going to want to expand and double their productivity. Why? For the same reason fast food industries have tripled in the past 25 years, they get greedy and want to make a profit. It has never been about the consumer when it comes to purchasing food in America, it has always been about how much and how fast they can produce so they can turn around and sell it on the market in mass quantities. Nobody wants to pay four dollars for tomatoes when they can get the “same thing” for two. The four-dollar tomato probably took more work to grow since it didn’t have the help from pesticides, whereas the cheaper tomato was more than likely doused with chemicals. What if we all decided to change and started forking out the money for the real organic food, then they will ultimately have to find ways to produce more and more which eventually will turn into Industrialized Organic Agriculture. There are just too many of us to really have the ability to keep produce local, because we consume far more than we can possibly grow. How are places like new york supposed to keep their food organic when they have such a massive population with so hardly any farm land. In an essence we need Industrial Organic Agriculture, no matter how bad it may be. some places just don’t have the option for anything else.

~Cody Males

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Hidden MSG

A couple years ago I was making my favorite vegan cheese sauce I developed from a bunch of other recipes on line.  It was for my “healthy” mac n cheese casserole baked with crumbled sour dough croutons on top…mmmm!  The main ingredient in that sauce is the all purpose seasoning for vegans called nutritional yeast.  You’ll see it in the bulk section of natural food markets as a light yellow fine powder or flakes.  I always knew that it had good beneficial properties as a supplement, but I wasn’t sure what it did.  I figured since I’ve been using it for years in recipes I should know what it does for me so I went on line to find out.  I found mostly good stuff such as containing 18 amino acids to form a complete protein, and high in B vitamins, but…something caught my eye in a more obscure form of a blog.  One person was saying that nutritional yeast contained MSG!  I thought no, it can’t be; it’s so delicious and I can’t give it up!  So I frantically tried to find more info on whether that person was right or not.  It’s too bad that I can’t find the same sites as I did before.  But what I gathered wasn’t very much.  Exploring for many hours I kept running into dead ends, with mostly blogs and not actual articles containing facts.  There were pretty much mixed reviews on whether it did or not.  One small article I found at the time mentioned that the heating process turned the yeast into a form of glutamate, but another one mentioned that if it’s processed with low heat then it doesn’t change.  It mentions to look for a light yellow color that dissolves easily in water.  Thanks to say that what I buy from New Seasons does have a light yellow color and does dissolve easily.  So since I did not find hard conclusive evidence whether nutritional yeast does or does not have MSG I decided that I like it way too much in my recipes to give it up.  If I can fool myself for just a little longer…maybe that’s why it tastes so good!  I have always been sensitive to the taste of MSG.  Even foods that didn’t list it as an ingredient seemed to have a taste explosion in sort of a surreal, but not all that pleasant way.  Then I found the more conclusive evidence of hidden MSG disguised in ingredient names you would never suspect.  Anything saying autolyzed or hydrolyzed, etc. are forms of glutamic acid(MSG).  I was always frustrated in going to Asian grocery stores and finding that 90% of their products seem to have MSG.  I thought I was doing good for a while finding non MSG products until I realized that it comes in many disguised names.  Not to mention a lot of natural food products like what we have been discussing in class.  Now, I am very limited to only finding products listing ingredients that don’t sound like a chemistry textbook.  It used to take me 2 to 3 hours to go shopping, reading every label for all the choices I had for one ingredient.  Now though I have found my products and know what to buy, so the only reason why I’m at a grocery store for that length of time now is because it is simply the best eye candy I can think of!  So if anybody finds out more info about MSG in nutritional yeast I would love to hear about it!


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Greenhouse USA

I’m not sure how many of you classmates enjoy dancing, or the night life, or the electronic music scene, but I’m a big fan. I was super excited when I came across an ad in a magazine for a club in New York City called “Greenhouse”. I’m not 21 yet, so I can’t get in, but the club has incredibly cool features, such as couches made from recyclable material, toilets that flush efficiently and walls made from sustainable bamboo and covered in real leaves, moss, and green circles. I’m a business major, and I’m hoping to open a night club someday, maybe something like this (one of the reasons I’m taking sustainability). Check out the club’s website, tell me if you guys like it, what you don’t like about it, what you wish was different etc. Here is their website.



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It’s a Garbage Disposal NOT a Trash Can

After preparing a nice meal, whatever is in the sink people assume the garbage disposal will just take care of and flip the switch without a second thought. However after the ‘sink theory’ it got me thinking maybe we THINK about the world like that because we were brought up to live like that within our own environments. Specifically,at home and in our kitchens.

I came across an article that raised some very important issues about the way we take advantage of our garbage disposals. It’s smarter and more ‘green’ to bury the compost in our backyard rather than having it go through the septic tanks and sewage systems.

I know some people that throw EVERYTHING down the sink and treat it as their ‘clean all’. It’s not healthy for the sink because of the scum and bacteria that will grow later from it, and by the time it makes its way to the ocean, all the nutrients will be broken down and there will be nothing left but trash.

Read up and remember next time you have banana peels and chicken scraps waiting to be disposed of in your sink.

-Aspen Bernier

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Sorry Strawberry’s aren’t a year around fruit

People are used to going to the grocery store, and purchasing strawberry’s in December and not thinking anything of it. Unfortunately fruits like this don’t grow well in Oregon during the winter months. In order for people to live more sustainable, we are going to need to realize that buying those mango’s in the winter month’s isn’t sustainable. It’s not sustainable due to the fact that it has to be shipped halfway across the world to get here. This shipping process produces tons of green house gases not to mention the chemicals they have to use to keep the fruit from rotting. We need to realize we can’t go through life eating these fruits when they’re not in season. In the earlier days of our history people would get their fruit in the winter months by canning, when it is in season. This way during the winter they can still enjoy their fruit. By doing this we could cut tons of green house gases from being produced. So next time you are at the store think twice about what you are purchasing.

Sam G.

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Is your food really organic?

When we buy food at the grocery store with the “organic” label, do we really know it is organic?  Last year, organics being sold in Whole Foods Markets made headlines for certifying organic ginger contaminated with levels of a pesticide that can cause nausea, headaches, and blurred vision.  Many farms that produce USDA-certified organic food are not personally inspected by anyone from the USDA National Organic Program.  Even if an inspector does happen to notice the use of pesticide, they might feel a pressure to not say anything. Perhaps it would be better if the USDA was staffed with knowledgeable members who share the consumers’ values and will look out for their best interests.  Luckily, for someone who wants guaranteed organics, they can buy directly from the farmer at the local farmer’s market. Since organics is essentially about values and personal relationships farmer’s markets are excellent ways to go as you can meet the farmer.  This article will tell you more.

Erica N.

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Go Green Everyone’s Doing it.

Going green and being sustainable seems to be the new thing these days what with hybrid cars, reusable bags, buying clothes to protect wildlife, buying local and what have you.  However my concern is, that being green the new thing because people care or because they want to fit in by jumping in on the new fad? I know back in high school many of the students around me were “being green” or at least they liked the idea of being green, they would wear the shirts with slogans on them, worrying about the environment and recycle like crazy! But I could tell that they were only doing it to fit in, because they would still drive their big gas guzzlers to school instead of taking the free bus (yes needless to say it is inconvenient at times to not drive say if you have sports after school or play practice) or even walking, which then you can save your money because you are not having to fill up your tank every other day and you aren’t polluting the air more than need be.  However I know there were students who actually cared about the environment and wanted to make a change to the school and try and make it more sustainable to run, even if it was just a little, like turning off hall lights when no students were around or having every other light off.

It just seems that the people who are trying to be green to be cool try and make big changes too fast and then when it fails they get discouraged and just give up. When in reality it’s the little changes that make the biggest difference, such as switches out old light bulbs to energy-saving ones, grouping trips when you go out so your not wasting gas, or even carpooling; I car pool with my father every morning to get into Portland, needless to say that means I’m getting up at 4:30 and i don’t start work till 8, but  I’d rather carpool and get up earlier than have two cars going to the same place and just sitting there when there isn’t a reason for it. This means I’m saving money and gas and less wear and tear on the car.

What I’m trying to say is, let’s not make changes just to feel cool. Let’s make changes because we actually believe in the cause and want to leave the world in a somewhat better condition than how we found it.

-Melissa L.

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