Conventional Produce was Invented by a Jack Ass
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Imagine if a water bottling company offered its customers two options: 1) Pure bottled springwater, priced at three dollars; 2) Water from a polluted lake, bottled and priced at one dollar.
Now, Imagine if car companies offered two options in the types of cars they sold: 1) Safety models that came with seatbelts, airbags, and protections built into the frame designs; 2) Cars that didn’t have any of those safety features at all, priced 25,000 dollars cheaper.
Why must companies go for cheap at the expense of consumer health and safety?
When I was in the skydiving business there was a company that had the lowest priced parachute container system (the system that held parachutes in place when you were in freefall). Their system was made with inferior grade products and was terribly engineered. It was a pile of garbage, but it passed the Federal Aviation Administration requirements.
All the competing parachute systems were superior in every way and cost twice as much. How could someone come into the sport of skydiving and not insist on getting the safest possible product?
Sacrificing health and safety for cheapness is economic madness.
In my mind it’s the same thing if I walk into a supermarket and they have “two produce”departments, one of which is organic and one of which is “conventional”? I believe that this is bullshit. “Conventional” produce shouldn’t be an option. It’s a gimmick and it shouldn’t even be legal.
The term “conventional produce” means that the farmer can spray the produce with a litany of poisonous chemicals that the government has declared to be safe for you to ingest into your body. What’s even worse, the government has decided that it’s OK if the chemicals leach into the soil and find their way into our water supplies.
This has come to pass because the people in charge decided that farmers should be able to protect their crops from insects and from other plant life that might destroy their harvests. Somewhere along the way these practices became the norm. Then, negative side effects were discovered. Those negative side effects have been covered up by giant corporations with lots of money to pay for politicians who make laws to overlook the obvious.
Who pays the price of the negative side effects? Everyone.
The farmer eats and drinks the poison. The politicians eat and drink the poison. The corporations that make the poisons eat and drink the poisons. Consumers eat and drink the poisons. Nobody gets off.
I hate conspiracy theories, especially those that are entirely unfounded. I don’t like conspiracies that talk about things that don’t even matter whether or not they’re true. But the relationship that large supermarkets have with giant chemical manufacturers and farmers is not a conspiracy theory. It’s a gigantic problem, and the problem is fueled by ignorance.
It doesn’t really matter if the problems are based on corruption at various levels or if the problems are intertwined in a conspiracy of some sort. But you need to be aware of one thing: It will be necessary for farmers to grow organic produce free from pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs if we are to keep our earth healthy and allow consumers to have access to food that isn’t hazardous to their health.
In the US, we have wealth and access to excellent sanitation and delivery mechanisms. So there is no reason that we should feed our citizens and our global neighbors substandard, unhealthy food products. The short term savings that come from growing, purchasing and eating conventional produce are worthless when compared to the toll such food will exact on the health of everyone.
Perhaps you believe that these pesticides are not that bad for your chemistry. This doesn’t take into consideration the harmful effects that these chemicals have on the planet. We are ruining our environment. We take its valuable resources, add pollution to the air supply, and poison our waters. And we manufacture synthetic compounds that slowly but surely destroy the infrastructure of the organic matter that this world and your body are made of.
The next time you go into a beautiful supermarket, take a moment to feel the gratitude for the abundance that is all around you. To have so many choices is a blessing. But oftentimes it’s a blessing in disguise. It’s a very bad situation when there are a great many options that are in complete violation of the obvious laws of the natural world.
This begs the question: What about people that don’t have money, who can’t access the same quality of food that people with money have access to? To say that toxic conventional produce is better than no produce is assuming that we can do nothing about this bad situation. This is not true. We can vote for people who pledge to subsidize organic farmers and make the use of toxic chemical compounds illegal. We can interact with our elected representatives, and we can become activists who fight for positive change in connection with this issue.
We’re better off with a lot of options that force people to change behavior and do the right thing, not the partially right thing that fucks up every other thing. I’m trying to make you aware of something that’s been perpetrated for a very long time. Even major health food markets are guilty of the crime of peddling toxic conventional produce. They give people the conventional option because they want to compete with the bigger markets. They recognize that they would be out of business if they couldn’t advertise a lemon at a lower price. They want to get you into the store the same way a spider wants to get you into its web.
Companies deceive us. They display conventional produce mixed in with organic produce to make it look as if they are environmentally and socially conscious. And they often don’t have separate conventional and organic produce sections—they have everything mixed in together hoping that you won’t notice.
I don’t have a solution for this large scale problem in this one essay. I don’t have the power to change anything. But I wouldn’t put an apple sprayed with pesticides and one grown organically next to each other on a table and offer a choice between the two to your child or to your beloved elders.
If you had to make such a choice, I think that you’d pick the organic produce every time. And I want to make it clear that in my businesses I am committed to organic produce. If I ever had to sell conventional produce so that I could keep my business open, I’d close my business instead.