Saturday, August 1, 2009

Penn and Teller on Organics

We're watching the Penn and Teller on organics. They've woven in a typically slightly blasphemous Jesus sketch (which I'm enjoying) and they're taking organic farming to the woodshed, predictably.

We've never done all organic. Even at our richest, it didn't seem worth it. Sometimes the stuff tastes better--but you can't really know whether that's due to some factor in the farming, or just greater care overall. I mean, if you have the money, it's actually cheaper to go to the tony grocers in the good neighborhood, and it'll definitely taste better. (And if you don't like it for any reason, the tony store will take it back, half eaten.)

They do some good stuff: It should be known that organic farming is brutal, environmentally speaking. It's a luxury. But their taste test is bogus, in the sense that organics might taste better generally, but that doesn't mean that any given piece of organically grown fruit or vegetable is going to taste better than a non-organically grown counterpart. (I mean, I guess some people--the ones who did their taste test, for example--believed that, but that's completely insane.)

The real problem with "organic", of course, is that "organic" means nothing. It is, as they point out, religiously enshrined Luddism. It might be that pesticides are bad. (Or more importantly, that they're worse than the pests they're meant to handle.) It might be that genetically modified foods are bad. Or it might be that they're not, or some of them are and some of them aren't.

Interestingly enough, my two favorite forms of snake oil don't have much to say about organics. The current plan I'm on laments the lack of minerals in our foods--but organics don't have much to say about that. Of course, I'm sure P&T could find people who will assure them that there's no problem with mineral deficiencies.

Anyway, what I've found is that you can't ever take a blanket label and turn off your brain. Whether it's "organic" or "green" or whatever. Some organics are going to taste better--even if it's not because of organic farming methods--and I suspect some are going to be better for you, too. Some "green" things really are going to be better for the ecology.

But some aren't. Just like you can't go into a Wal-Mart or a Costco and be confident you're getting the best deal, either. You have to pay attention.

Also, what do Penn and Teller have against natural breasts? I don't object to gratuitous nudity, but almost every girl they have strip on that show has implants.

Some things are definitely better organic.


  1. I think the organic meme could only become popular with people who are completely disconnected from nature. If you walk around wild areas most plants you see are either poisonous or inedible.

    Let them eat natural mushrooms.

  2. My Kroger only carries "organic" cilantro, for some reason. So I pay about 3 times what I used to pay for the regular stuff. Annoying.

  3. I watched the show too, pretty funny stuff. My wife marveled at the breasts on the "disciple". Those can't be real! What I don't understand (and I'm not sure if I want to know) is how a bag of saline can give them the missile warhead look.

    I assume that being organic adds nothing, so I buy whatever looks, smells and feels like it is the best.

  4. knox,

    I think they do that with low-cost items because this unlikely to raise ire. (I see it with carrots a lot.)


    Yep: Getting good produce is really about what looks good at the moment.

    As for the breasts I believe it's putting the bag under the muscle that gives the "jutting" look. I think it's ridiculous, but I suppose it's an acquired taste?


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