Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mark Gamon is on holiday

My dear friend, David Milliband, has added to the list of things that didn’t make me laugh.

According to the BBC:

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said organic food was more of a "lifestyle choice that people can make".

He insisted that food grown with the use of pesticides and other chemicals should not be regarded as inferior.

Well, that’s it for you, New Labour. The party of war, pestilence, famine and death. Not only following Dubya into Iraq with your tongue firmly stuck to his anus, you now come out in favour of the polluters. We don’t want to offend ICI do we? The minister for the environment telling us it is ok to poison the soil. It’s a shame Harold Shipman is not still with us, he would have made a great Health Secretary. Wackford Squeers for Education Minister, anyone?

Mr Milliband (an early contender for asshole of the year)’s statement is so ridiculous that I will not bother to counter it. But, putting on my Tony Blair voice, let me say this, look, Mr Milliband why don’t you sprinkle some DDT and rat poison on your weetabix this morning, you jumped up nazi fuckwit, and do us all a favour.


tom909 said...

Mr Vicus, you rarely go off on one but when you do, I usually agree with you. I read what this twat said this morning and was equally incensed. I am presuming he is also in favour of killing wildlife and totally changing the balance of nature in the soil too. Get some balls Milliband and just say it - 96% of our land is being polluted by farmers, and what's more when you buy inorganic food you are supporting them.

Richard said...

Well, not that I particularly agree with him but maybe what he meant to say was that the chemicals that come out of an organic chicken's or cow's arse and get spread over your potato field aren't any healthier for you than manufactured organo-phosphates. I'm pretty certain that neither would be my garnish of choice. I'm not sure that the traditional farming methods can be guaranteed to support modern lifestyles. We could all return to a pastoral lifestyle but where are we going to put 25 million townies? Tom, farmers of all kinds have been changing the balance of nature in the soil ever since they first cultivated a crop or kept livestock so what do we do? Shoot the buggers and go hunter gatherer? I'm all at sea now.

tom909 said...

Richard, conventional farming using chemical fertilisers and pesticides is no more productive than organic farming - you have to take into account all the energy used to manufacture, supply and apply the chemicals and all the energy used to clean up afterwards. The nitrates in the water supply for a start, and maybe you don't believe this, but the cost of the worse health of the population.
The only real arguement for chemical farming is that it makes more short term profit for the farmer, but it comes at a cost. The soil, which should be a complete growing medium for the crop, becomes no more than a kind of life free blotting paper to hold the chemicals that make the crop grow in the most cash profitable way. Not to mention the cost in loss of insects, and therefore birds etc etc.
Don't be fooled, the product you get from this is not the same product that you get from a balanced, nutrient rich, live soil.
There is no morally correct excuse for supplying the people with bad food. Employ more people, use less chemicals and get a healthier population. If you don't believe me, go to the States, taste their food and look at their health, or even easier, eat an organic carrot and eat an inorganic carrot and see if you can tell the difference.

Richard said...

I understand all the points you make Tom, I'm not agreeing with him at all but I think he's maybe being taken out of context. A lot of things have been also done in the name of organic farming that are potentially dangerous. Large scale organic farmers are also interested in yields - even more so because the guarantee of a perfect yield is reduced. Certain practises have had a deleterious effect on the environment. Introduction of alien predators destroying the local wildlife and the over use of slurry also affecting watercourses for instance. As for taste, the biggest influence on me tasting food was giving up smoking. My biggest gripe at the moment though is over that arsehole who runs Ryanair who thinks that budget airlines are "green". Gun!

raincoaster said...

Stuff farmed non-organically is not technically inferior, it's just more poisonous. Depends what you want it for.

Mark Gamon said...

I'm not on holiday, I'm on dial-up. But thank you, Vicus, for carrying the torch. Or the baton. Or whatever.

I'm not enough of a scientist and economist to get stuck into this one. I'll take Tom's word for it instead. But I do wonder if we shouldn't be attaching (hell no - heaping) some of the blame on the supermarkets. I suspect they could turn the entire farming industry around tomorrow just by charging LESS for organic produce than they do for the processed crap.

But then why would they do that? Not when there's a fast buck to be made skimming the punters who've got the money to buy organic produce at inflated prices. And they can always weasel their way out of any criticism by repeating the 'choice' mantra over and over until they actually believe their own bullshit.

A bit like David Milliband, now I come to think of it. I wonder how many times Tesco have taken him out to lunch this year?

Murph said...

Tom, are you saying USA food and population is healthier than ours?

Pamela said...

I think he's saying that we are unhealthier.

The organic stuff is so very expensive. Of course I'd much rather buy something like that but sometimes I'm forced to make the less expensive choice.

Mangonel said...

Significant Other read a couple of adjacent articles in the Economist just before Christmas. (I would have commented before but I have been looking for the issue, sadly to no avail.)

The thrust of article one was, that organic food was so expensive because it was labour-intensive, and therefore an economic dead-end. Article two, I kid you not, was about how we are threatening to swamp ourselves with overproduced food because modern farming methods are just so damn efficient.

But I can't find the sodding issue to substantiate this. I will keep looking - I just got cross all over again.

Mangonel said...

Oh, I forgot to say, the Thick of It is truly amazing telly. I have to watch it from behind the sofa it's so gut-churningly car-crash.

I gather that the American version is being cast very soon, and Matthew Broderick is rumoured to be interested in the Chris Langham role.

I think Langham's being stitched up.

raincoaster said...

Enough of all this earnestness; there are bloggers to nominate for Bloggies!

Note that this isn't entirely self-interested, since you do have to nominate a minimum of three blogs, and I would suggest it is only polite to include this one as well. Cuz I'm thoughtful like that, yo.

tom909 said...

Sorry to drag this back to the serious, but contrary to all my NYRs it fucking annoys me when people talk crap about organic food.
Re the price, I'm afraid you get what you pay for really, but most people are actually in a position where they could actually choose to buy organic if they wanted too - they just choose to spend the extra £20 a week or whatever on something else they consider more important. OK I have to agree, if you are low waged then it is an issue.
Also, dont forget, you are not buying the same thing - it's a bit like buying a MacDonalds - they say they are cheap, but really that's not cheap, it's just rubbish - I wouldn't eat it if it was free.
Just try to think of the other costs involved that maybe make crap food seem cheap to you. Massive prairies of chemicalised land, huge factories full of animals that never see the light of day. Atrociously low welfare standards in the poorer countries, and yes, supermarkets who are prepared to exploit all these things, so that they can undercut those farmers who want to do it right.
Yes your right, I'm trying to shame you into tightening up your act - in fact fuck it, I'm gonna do a post on it, rather than take up a load of space on poor old Vicus's post.
Sorry, lasted 8 days without a rant.

Mark Gamon said...

There's another problem with MacDonalds. For your £1.99 burger, you also get a free tub full of cholesterol, with a dash of high blood pressure on the side.

Factor in the cost of that, and organic starts to look cheap.

Yes I know you can get cholesterol from organic food too. But once you start thinking about this, you begin to take account of all the issues...)

Richard said...

Tom, that's an interesting point you make about low welfare standards in poorer countries. I can get all kinds of organic food in my local supermarket AND farm stores all flown in from third world countries. Which provokes an ironic question. I may be simplifying this a bit but free trade and low cost organic farming have given some of these communities a higher standard of living but with it all the social problems concomitant with a thriving economy. They'd been practising all those things at a subsistence level for generations and getting on OK yet now resources are being taken away from local needs into supplying the first world and they are suffering for it. Water courses are diverted to irrigate fields of organic okra destined for Crouch End and the only person to benefit from any of this is Bono. Organic food unfortunately is labour intensive and hugely expensive to produce and economics drives everything. If we were willing to work for a few pence per hour it would be fine but until one bans Playstations and 4 x 4s it won't work until yields can be guaranteed and the ecomonies of scale make it more affordable . Personally I'd love to work on the land but not enough want to to make it viable. Yet. Unbelievable though; cheaper to fly stuff in from Zambia than get it from down the road. Buggered if I'll do that as it rather defeats the object. We ought to be ashamed.

awaiting said...

Those last few words could kindly (heehee) be muttered to numerous others in political power these days. Maybe if they were and actually followed we could start fresh.

But then again, I once heard that all politicians are power and money hungry, so either way, we might not be better off.

raincoaster said...

£20 a week for food? What are you people eating, billionaires? If food cost that much where I live I'd starve.

tom909 said...

OK, completely agree with you Richard on this one. It's an absolute farce to import OG food across continents. Don't touch it myself.
But there are one or two things I have to say here. First, I don't really care if people want to eat shit, feel free, it's your body, do what he hell you like with it. But what I do care about is the cost to the planet. More generations up ahead have to live here after us. My grandfather always said to me, leave your land in better heart than you found it. How many farmers can honestly say they are doing that these days.
And on the subject of the cost of OG food, what's the problem with an extra £20 a week - people go and spend twice that to watch a crappy championship football match, or even a meal out in a half decent restaurant costs that these days. Look in most supermarket trolleys, you'll see they're well full of more than £20 worth of junk crap rubbish, not even worthy of the word 'food'. It's your choice guys, but it's not the choice of who comes next - they get what we give them.

broomhilda said...

It would seem that brown noses exsist everywhere!

Dave said...

'Unbelievable though; cheaper to fly stuff in from Zambia than get it from down the road.'

I don't really want to be devil's advicate here (and this isn't about poisening the land, I realise Tom) but when this issue first raised its head at the weekend, The Times did point out that most food from abroad comes by ship, which is actually quite fuel-efficient, and then is packed on full lorries to supermarkets.

The actual pollution load to the planet per item of produce is (they claim) less than a farmer driving a Land Rover load to the farmers' market.

*Runs away and hides*

Richard said...

Dave, landing organic food, food that could be quite easily be grown here, in Felixstowe and then transporting them to Waitrose in Sandbach does beg some questions. Not least the one that asks, what with all the various middle men taking a cut to move it certain distances, who's taking the hit that still makes it cheap?

Dave said...

I quite agree with you on cost; of course it's the poor producers who are being squeezed. I was merely thinking of the alleged damage done to the planet by so-called food miles; that those who go to farmer's markets, on that basis alone, may be adding to pollution.

tom909 said...

Dave, good point about the ships but sorry, don't believe a word of it. There is no way taking a carton of mange tout peas from Kenya to Newton Abbot is less harmful to the planet than taking the equivalent weight food value of veg 10 miles to Bovey Tracey farmers market. Sorry Dave, I reckon that survey is about as true as one done on wind power by the nuclear industry.