Friday, April 30, 2010

Dirty dozen rant

I came across this article on Yahoo! the other day: "The new Dirty Dozen: 12 foods to eat organic and avoid pesticide residue."

And it pissed me off.

First of all, grocery shopping is difficult enough. After all, one juggles value (how much is that per ounce?) and nutrition (how many sugar grams does that cereal have?) and any health issues (does it have any artificial color? Or in other households, nuts or gluten?). Never mind freshness (when will that expire?) and detail (don't forget the fresh ginger root for Tuesday's dinner).

Now I'm also supposed to keep in mind this dirty dozen?

I try. I really do. but last time I went to Whole Foods, they did not have any organic bell peppers. Only conventionally grown. And if you can't find organic bell peppers at Whole Foods, where are you supposed to get them?!?

The article isn't very helpful. For bell peppers, they suggest, "Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli, and cabbage." Somehow I think that if I substitute cabbage for a recipe that calls for bell pepper, someone would notice. I'll bet it wouldn't taste very good either.

It seems the article's author doesn't cook or really eat much. Who else would suggest onions as a substitute for celery? Yes, they're both crunchy vegetables. And that's where the similarities end. Try putting peanut butter on a raw onion and feeding it as a healthy snack to your preschooler. Yum. Yum. A suggested substitute for potatoes is cabbage. Again with the cabbage. Is this a plot concocted by the Cabbage Farmers of America?

My anger is misplaced. I'm frustrated with the article, but really, I'm frustrated with our farming practices. Do I have to go to Whole Foods or a family owned, artisanal farm to buy grass-fed beef? And if anyone is curious about why one would want grass-fed beef, I strongly suggest reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Do I really need to carry a cheat sheet for which fruits and vegetables to avoid so I won't be feeding my family a varied diet of pesticide residue? Can't we just manage our agriculture so that we're not spraying 62 pesticides on peaches or feeding cows a diet that they're biologically not built to consume?

I'd better start developing a taste for cabbage. It should come naturally. My heritage is Korean, after all, and our national food is kimchee.

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