Does Eating Organically Produced Local Food Make Me Elitist?

According to Julie Powell, it does.

Julie Powell, (the blogger behind the Julie-Julia Project) in her recent New York Times Op-Ed piece entitled, “Don’t Get Fresh With Me,”claims that those who prefer to eat organic, locally grown produce and shop at farmer’s markets for seasonal foods are rich, elitist snobs.

Well. Isn’t that special?

Let’s hear it directly from the author’s sarcastic pen, shall we? Ms. Powell writes, “This sort of garden-variety condescension is eternal, and relatively harmless. What makes the snobbery of the organic movement more insidious is that it equates privilege not only with good taste, but also with good ethics. Eat wild Brazil nuts and save the rainforest. Buy more expensive organic fruit for your children and fight the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Support a local farmer and give economic power to responsible stewards of sustainable agriculture. There’s nothing wrong with any of these choices, but they do require time and money.

When you wed money to decency, you come perilously close to equating penury with immorality. The milk at Whole Foods is hormone-free; the milk at Western Beef is presumably full of the stuff – and substantially less expensive. The chicken at Whole Foods is organic and cage-free; the chicken at Western Beef is not. Is the woman who buys her children’s food at the place where they take her food stamps therefore a bad mother?”

What a poorly constructed strawman argument.

I have never noticed anyone who is a part of the organic, local-foods, sustainable agriculture movement look down on a woman for using food stamps where they are accepted in order to feed her children. And if I did notice such an action, you can bet your sweet bippie I would have something rather caustic to say to their faces on the issue.

In fact, I would like to point out that at the Athens, Ohio Farmer’s Market, there are plenty of farmers who accept WIC vouchers from mothers on public assitance. I guess that those WIC-voucher moms who shop with the farmers are just as elitist the rest of us.

So, when I shop at the Farmer’s market and support these same WIC-voucher-accepting farmers, I am being elitist? Is it elitist to buy food that I can trust, that tastes better than the stuff that is shipped from who knows where, and that goes back into the local economy?

I don’t think so, and I will tell you why.

Because, I believe that the true elitists are those who shop at the cavernous, air-conditioned local grocery store and demand that completely unseasonable produce be available to them at all hours of the day or night, at prices that are kept artificially low by subsidized water, international trade agreements which squeeze small farmers out of business and cheap petroleum. When I go into my local Kroger’s store and find bins of apples that have been shipped in from New Zealand at the rock-bottom price of 99 cents a pound, I have to ask why that price is so low. It is that low because the farmers who grew them are not being paid a decent living wage. It is that low because the cost of shipping them is low because the cost of petroleum has been kept artificially low by various world governments.

It is that low because American consumers demand low food prices.

American consumers demand cheap food. They don’t necessarily care if it tastes good, or is produced ethically or safely, but by God, it had better be cheap.

And I hate to tell Ms. Powell this–I have seen plenty of rich, elitist sorts shopping at the local Krogers, buying Guatamalan grapes. Guatamalan grapes which are grown and picked by people too poor to eat as well as many poor Americans, because these people are not paid a living wage–but elitist Americans don’t care so long as the grapes are cheap.

You do not have to be a rich, white, elitist snob to decide to support local, organic agriculture. Nor do you have to live in California. There are plenty of people at the Athens Farmer’s Market who are living on fixed incomes, who are living from check to check, and who make do on one income because they think that one parent ought to stay home with the kids when they are small. I know a lot of folks who -choose- to shop for good-tasting, locally produced foods, or organic foods, even though it means that their food expenditures are higher, because they choose not to spend money on other things.

And I know of no one–no one–who buys local or organic who looks down upon those on public assistance. On the contrary, I know quite a few organic locavores who go out of their way to work on the problem of hunger in America, by volunteering at local food banks or soup kitchens, by starting community gardens so poor folks can grow some fresh produce themselves, or who work to make sure that there is good food in local schools so kids get a hot meal in the middle of the day.

That is not elitism.

That is compassion. That is caring about the environment, the food system, the treatment of animals and the treatment of humanity.

I agree that there are some insufferable elitist twits out there in the world, and some of them wear the label of “foodie.” And no doubt, some of them are into frou-frou organic green iced tea with guarana and dingleberry extracts that is hand picked by virgins and brewed by solar power with filtered mountain water from Tibet before being decanted in limited edition glass-bottles and labelled with artwork representing the return of the Ancient Earth Mother Goddess Gaia. (And mind you, the price tag on that green dingleberry iced tea is as exorbitant as the Earth Mother Goddess Gaia is old.)

And yeah, they probably are just as irritating as Ms. Powell alleges they are. (I got irritated just re-reading that hideous sentence describing the frou-frou tea. I wrote the sentence, and it still made me grit my teeth.)

But not everyone who shops at a farmer’s market or eats seasonally is a snob.

Most of us are just folks who like great tasting food that is a good economic value (which is not just measured by the price marked on the item in question), that impacts minimally on the environment and helps support a strong local economy. Most of us care about the health of our communities and children, and want our food to support that health.

And many of us care about social justice and worry about the hidden costs of those cheap grapes from Guatamala.

If that makes us elitists, well, then, I am proud to be a big ole snob.

I never much liked the term, “foodie,” anyway.

29 Comments

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  1. Well said Barbara! Ms Powell has stirred quite the controversy, hasn’t she?

    Comment by Celeste — July 26, 2005 #

  2. Very well said, Barbara. And is it me, or do the Julia (Child) Worshippers just seem to be on some Other Planet?

    Comment by Jack — July 26, 2005 #

  3. Welcome, Celeste and Jack!

    Yeah, Celeste–I think Ms. Powell is stirring the pot a bit, to see what happens. I am disappointed in her generalizations, however, because they show a distinct lack of research or thought going into the formation of her opinion. I am disappointed, in large part, because I think she is smarter than that.

    Jack–Julia Child cared deeply about the quality of ingredients. That is what I don’t get about Ms. Powell’s statements–the tomatoes that come from the grocery store are not something that Julia Child considered worthy of eating.

    As for Julia Child Worshippers–anyone who slavishly worships a celebrity of any stripe makes me twitch. I know folks who hang on Emeril’s every “Bam!” and believe every single word Alton Brown utters, even when he is incorrect, and that sort of fannish obsessiveness bugs me. It bugs me in science fiction fandom, it bugs me when it is movie geeks, and it bugs me when it is chefs or cookbook authors being drooled over.

    Julia Child helped revolutionize the way America cooks. She deserves every bit of the credit she gets for that. And she was a great woman, and a fine cook and an even better teacher and author. She is worthy of emulation, respect and yes, fondness and love, but obsessive fannish freakishness?

    Nope.

    In large part, I think, because she would not have appreciated that sort of thing herself.

    Though, I do have to admit that I myself fondly call her Saint Julia. ;-)

    But, I promise, when in the kitchen, I do not light candles and pray for her to intercede upon my behalf when cooking a souffle.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 26, 2005 #

  4. Here, here! What an eloquent and well-constructed defense of practices that frankly shouldn’t be under attack.

    I recently got in an argument with a colleague about organic food and I have to say I didn’t argue the point nearly as well.

    Comment by Meg — July 26, 2005 #

  5. I think Powell may be enamored of such activities as “slumming” (something I noticed while reading her Julie/Julia blog). It looks cool and hip to blast people for spending money on expensive food. Bitching about the organic/local food movement is a new version of yelling “Die Yuppie Scum!” at hair gelled CEOs quaffing Perrier and shopping at Sutton Place Gourmet.

    Comment by Amy — July 26, 2005 #

  6. Oh, boy. Where to start? I wonder if people who hold “ethics” in contempt (because really, isn’t that what she’s doing?) are just protesting too much. Perhaps she’s recognized that she’s too lazy to *care* and so the natural response is to attack those who do.

    I started pursuing the *eat local* concept because of it’s traditional benefits – supporting the local economy, reinforcing those who practice responsible farming, and the benefits to my own health.

    But there could be another good reason to support local food sources. What if something happens that interrupts the flow of all those cheap imported products? It could be a drastic increase in energy prices or even a terrorist event.

    If something happens and those cheap products aren’t readily available, won’t it be nice to know that we have a base of local suppliers! And by supporting those local sources now, us elitists may be ensuring that they’re around to meet future demand.

    Comment by Mary — July 26, 2005 #

  7. OK – Julie Powell’s argument collapses completely on one big point as it transfers across. She says that real ordinary people can’t afford to eat that ‘delicious perfect peach’. Bullshit – even the most perfect peach is relatively cheap in and of itself. The problem is that they don’t have access to that peach unless they happen to live locally to peach trees – for example – as many of my neighbours can attest – if you happen to live in Lafayette and walk down my street in early to mid July you can pick a perfect ripe fresh white peach off my tree without even entering my property and completely for free – and lots of people do just that. I only mind it the times that they strip the tree before the peaches get quite ripe.

    People in New York should be eating local apples and pears and cherries and berries and they can be obtained cheaply and more importantly freshly.

    She even undermines her own argument by later talking about how a burrito is a delicious way to use up leftovers – exactly – poor people over the centuries have developed thousands of creative ways to eat healthily and without any loss of flavor. In fact many of those poor people’s recipes are fancy food now.

    Instead of getting annoyed Ms. Powell should be getting grateful. In fact, in the case of produce, I bet that a careful selection of only seasonal and local produce from the farmer’s market would cost you LESS than buying the food at any supermarket.

    Yes – meat and dairy cost more for organic. That’s only because those industries more than any other agricultural industry get subsidized by the government so that our ridiculous demands for vast amounts of crappy cheap meat, milk and eggs can be met. I’d RATHER pay $4 for 12 really GOOD eggs than $2 for 12 really bad ones. And note that the good versus bad does not necessarily mean organic versus not organic. Horizon dairy and eggs are technically organic – they also aren’t very good because they are mass produced and shipped a thousand miles.

    Julia Child is rolling in her grave.

    If you want to buy a book by a food blogger, get one by 24 food bloggers instead of her book. Digital Dish is a compilation of the best writing over 5 seasons from 24 food bloggers around the world. look for it at amazon or go to http://www.pressforchange.com

    OK – rant off…

    Comment by Owen — July 26, 2005 #

  8. Hey, Meg–this argument isn’t my best, but it is a start. A friend came over to visit and said he both agreed with me and didn’t agree with me–he wanted to know why a quart of roma tomatoes from a local organic farm cost more than those at Walmart. His reasoning that it was because the organic farmers at the Athens Farmer’s Market were elitist and were marketing toward the upper eschalons of our small city, whereas the Walmart prices reflected what the proletariat would pay.

    There is a little bit of truth to that argument, but there are flaws in it. I figured I would save my thoughts for another essay on the subject to be posted here, probably in Augst, when most of my posts are going to be thematically reflecting the Eat Local Food Challenge.

    There is another reason I saved my arguments–I am in the middle of reading two books which explain why Walmart’s food is cheaper than what you get at the local farmer’s market–and a lot of it has to do with the practices of corporate agriculture and international food commodity trading. I am learning a great deal about these factors that create cheap food in the US–but I cannot yet articulate them in a useful, explanatory fashion.

    So, Bry–hold on to your thoughts–some of which were quite valid–because there are answers for your questions. I just cannot articulate them quite yet, right now.

    And uh, hold on to that there other idea. Because I still think it is a good one. I just have to figure out how to do market analysis, or find someone to pay to do it for me.

    So, Meg–I am glad you liked my argument, but it isn’t my best. Not yet, anyway. ;-)

    Amy–I see what you are saying, and I can see some of the shoppers at Whole Foods Markets as fitting into the same category as the folks who shop at Sutton Place. A lot of the pro-organic, local food folks -are- monied, the intelligentsia, or the elite of the US. A lot of the larger figures in the movement, such as Alice Waters, could probably fit into that category–but, most of these movements, whether it involves organic food or the formation of a democratic republic, starts with the intelligentsia, and then as time goes on, it becomes more populist.

    However, that said, there are plenty of non-monied people who are into organic food, self-sufficiency, local economies and the slow food movement. Farmers themselves don’t really count as a “monied class,” nor do many of the back-to-the-land folks.

    My point was that while Powell’s allegations fit some organic foodies, they do not fit most of them, and as such, she tars everyone with the same brush. Generalizations are generally worthless, incorrect and poor choices when it comes to constructing strong rhetorical arguments.

    They also tend to piss people off.

    Mary–when you say, “What if something happens to interrupt the flow of all those cheap imported products…it could be a drastic increase in energy prices or even a terrorist event…if something happens and those cheap products aren’t readily available, won’t it be nice to know that we have a base of local suppliers?”

    You got it in one. Right there–you nailed the issue on the head. Our US food system is unsustainable. Without cheap oil–which we are seeing the last days of–and cheap water–our supermarket way of life cannot survive.

    Period.

    End. Of. Sentence.

    Corporate farming and the international food commodities trade are dependant on fossil fuel, not only for farm equipment and delivery systems, but for the creation of fertilizers and pesticides and processing.

    If we have reached peak oil production or soon will reach it, we are going to see prices increase as the production begins to taper off and Third World nations’s increasingly urban industrial ways of life increase their demand on oil.

    As oil prices rise, so will the cost of producing all of the food in the supermarkets. As costs rise, the subsidies that are currently keeping the consumer food costs low will cease to be workable, and will be left behind. As this happens, food prices will rise precipitously, across the board. No more cheap fast food, no more cheap processed foods. No more cheap grapes from Guatamala, because they will cost too much to import.

    One of the goals of the folks interested in building local sustainable foodways is to put these food-producing institutions in place -before- the crisis happens. Establish them now, so they can be well in place if they are ever needed.

    And remember–these local foodways -used to be the norm- all over the world! In the US, the change over to the corporate model of food production began to really speed up and take over about fifty years ago with the rise of the supermarket and fast food industries.

    It isn’t impossible. At least, so long as keep it in our minds that it is possible.

    Don’t get me started on food safety and terrorist events–I could rant for hours on that subject. Having studied food safety and the way in which our food system operates for as long as I have–let me put it this way. When Tommy Thompson said a terrorist attack on our food supply would be easily pulled off–the man was so right it is just plain old scary.

    Owen! Hey, how’s it going, man?

    Rant away–please–go for it! You are so good at it!

    Yeah, you can get a careful selection of only seasonal and local produce from the Athens Farmer’s Market that is cheaper than what is available from the Kroger’s store. Especially if you don’t buy organic.

    One thing that Powell should get mad about but she doesn’t, which makes me suspect her ability to research her topic, is the fact that in many poor urban areas, there are no places for poor folks to buy fresh food at all. Supermarkets have often left the inner city–after putting Mom and Pop groceries out of business–for the more fertile suburbs. That leaves convenience stores and fast food to feed the poor folks in the inner cities.

    That seems pretty elitist to me–how about you? She never asks -why- poor urban folks tend to have more diet-related illnesses. Nor does she ask why exactly is it that fresh produce–even the cheap stuff at the supermarket–is more expensive than highly processed foods like Kraft Mac n Cheez–it stands to reason that the less processing a food undergoes, the less expensive it should be–but that is not how the game works in corporate food land.

    If she really was concerned about the diets of poor people, she might try asking these questions instead of attacking people who support local organic farmers.

    So, uh, Owen–when are folks gonna start working on volume II of Digital Dish?

    (Speaking of which–Digital Dish is a great book–I am not in it, but that doesn’t matter–some really good writers are, and there is a lot to recommend the book. I have already bought two copies–one for myself and one as a gift–y’all should run out and do the same.)

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 26, 2005 #

  9. What is so funny is that I was writing a comment in response to your *meat* post and I realized that I was starting to rant much like Julie Powell did in her column!

    I stopped myself, but realized how this natural food thing has cycled back around. As you said, fifty or so years ago, natural foods, produced and processed locally were the norm. Probably considered “common” foods, much as Powell celebrates the fast food which is considered the food of the “common” folk today.

    Fifty years ago, the fancy foods were those that were highly processed and appeared whole as if by magic (or came mostly prepared in a box). Now those are common and the natural food is considered elitist.

    What a strange circle of perception!

    Comment by Mary — July 26, 2005 #

  10. Barbara –

    I have a feeling my local farmers market is much like yours. Many of the farmers take WIC vouchers or food stamps, and some of those are organic producers. And if you look at the economic demographic, it’s everything from local families (the market is in a border neighborhood, between Hopkins and Waverly/Greenmount) to monied people to punk rock kids to students. On top of that, it is also racially diverse in both consumers and producers. I love dragging my lazy butt out there on Saturday mornings – some friends hit the Sunday market instead, which they have dubbed “The Church of Produce.”

    This also reminds me of asking my dad about my grandfather’s farming practices on his dairy farm. When I asked if he gave the cows hormones or antibiotics, he looked at me like I was nuts. And most of their feed was produced on the farm, with no pesticides, as well keeping a kitched garden to feed the other “herd” (kids). Now, my dad comes from a Vermont farming family of 7 children, no elitism there! I feel like I’m just keeping up with the family tradition.

    Comment by Amy — July 27, 2005 #

  11. Mary–you are right–it is ironic that now, heavily processed convenience foods are considered the norm and are inexpensive, when fresh, natural foods are considered to be an expensive luxury. It is completely ass-backwards in a lot of ways–it goes against logic.

    The whole food processing industry, like mechanized farming that is dependant on petrochemicals for machinery and pesticides, started after WWII when the great idustrial war machine was converted over to peacetime use. Technologies developed to help win the war were turned toward agricultural use, and food preservation and processing that was used to feed the huge armies fielded in that war, was turned toward consumer use.

    In fact, the whole idea of canning came about out of war–Napoleon offered a great reward to someone who could figure out a way to preserve food for his army.

    I have nothing against food preservation–I would be a hypocrite if I said so, as I grew up helping to can tomatoes, beans, fruits, jams, jellies, saurkraut and pickles, as well as helping smoke bacon and ham.

    But I do have issues with the way in which foods have been processed to include such dubious ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and odd flavoring compounds. I don’t think that this is healthy for people, and I think that reliance on these processed foods has caused many families to lose their own culinary legacy, which is sad.

    Amy–”The Church of Produce” is a concept I can get behind!

    That was my experience with the farmer’s markets in Columbia and Laurel, too–diversity, and accessability. There is plenty of diversity at the Athens Farmer’s Market, too–you hear many languages being spoken on a crowded Saturday there.

    Your grandparents sound like mine–they raised food with minimal use of pesticide, they used composted manure for fertilizer and they fed their animals primarily off thier own land–grass, hay and corn that we raised specifically to feed them. The animals were fed by the land and the animals fed the land in return–thier organic, rich manure went back to the soil to improve it, in a cycle that was unending.

    Grandpa always said that a farm without animals was only half a farm, and he was completely right.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 27, 2005 #

  12. I was not able to figure out how to leave a comment re: your post 7/27/05 about Ohio local food resources. Hopefully you will get this message here. Ohio Organic Family Farms, P.O.Box 646, Utica, OH 43080 is the only dairy in OH bottling organic milk . They distribute in the Columbus area. I am not sure about Athens. I think Columbus and Utica are both within 100 miles of Athens. Their organic cottage cheese is the best!

    Comment by Gene Dean — July 27, 2005 #

  13. I keep toying with a post that deals with people’s perception that they can’t “afford” to buy organic. And here, you’ve already done it. Food is so artificially cheap in this country, that people don’t realize that organics more accurately reflect the true cost of agriculture.

    I agree with Mary, the boat is really going to go down when (not if) something happens to the food stream. Some in my family might think I’m a doomsdayer, but I like to be prepared, and if I can be prepared by knowing how to grow my own food and put it up, then I can teach the unprepared when the time comes.

    Thanks for another great post.

    Comment by Liz — July 27, 2005 #

  14. Gene–your comment made it on to the other post–but Blogger may have been acting flaky. Don’t worry about repeating yourself–you are giving me valuable information–thank you!

    Liz–

    Some people really cannot afford to pay more food than what they buy at the grocery store. I have been one of those people, and even more recently than that, I have worked with those people. In a lot of ways, I think one of the best answers, particularly for the urban poor who cannot buy vegetables because there is no place to buy them, is the growth of urban community gardening initiatives.

    Basically, a space is found where there is an empty lot, and citizens get together and rent the lot, and then give out parcels of land to whoever wants them. Experienced gardeners help the newbies, and cities often donate yard litter to make into compost. Seed companies will often donate seed, and voila–poor people raise food for themselves.

    Studies have shown that community gardens increase neighborhood cohesiveness and community feeling. There is less litter, less violence and more comaraderie in neighborhoods with community gardens. And, studies have shown that with access to fresh food from these gardens, urban dwellers health improves.

    And, on top of it all–they can sell their surplus food and bring in some extra money, which translates into more better food, clothes, whatever is needed. It is a great system.

    But, in addition, there are initiatives in various urban areas to bring the farmer’s markets into the inner cities–and it has been a great thing for the farmers and the people who shop there.

    Sometimes, the only place people can afford to shop for groceries is Walmart. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    But, neither is it wrong for people who have the means to shop elsewhere to do so, and to do so for the reasons outlined by myself and others. Choosing where and how to spend my money in order to do the most good with it is not elitist.

    That is simply how capitalism works.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 27, 2005 #

  15. See me holding my comments?
    I think I’ve grown….
    :)
    -=Bryian=-

    Comment by Bryian — July 28, 2005 #

  16. I am proud of you, Bry. ;-)

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 28, 2005 #

  17. Barbara, you said, “Sometimes, the only place people can afford to shop for groceries is Walmart. And there is nothing wrong with that.” But there is something terribly wrong with the whole Walmart system of retailing: a system that sqeezes out mom & pop retailers, including grocers, who used to exist in the inner cities and replaces them with gigantic stores with no regard for nutrition or seasonality. It saddens me that alot of inner city people have little choice beyond convenience stores for their grocery shopping; I wasn’t aware of there being Walmarts in city centers. I figured they all fled for the higher sales in the suburbs.

    As far as some people not being able to afford to pay more for their food than they currently are, I remember reading something a while back about how, as far as industrialized nations go, Americans spend a much smaller percentage of their incomes on food than in other countries. Can you shed any light on this? The way I see it, Americans have become so accustomed to the price of food being artificially low due to countless subsidies, that the money they would have spent on food otherwise instead goes toward disposables. A friend who is a social worker in Philly would always lament the fact that some of her clients had four kids sharing a mattress on the floor with no good food in sight, but they had big TVs and were better dressed than she was.

    I agree with you that community gardens are one of the best ways to go toward educating urban people about fresh produce and changing their outlook, not to mention enhancing their environment.

    The other thing I was thinking is that generally, Americans consume too many calories (and certainly more meat than alot of other countries). If the focus was shifted to whole foods instead of convenience foods, the overall caloric intake could be less, and people might be able to spend their food dollars more wisely, not to mention champion over the “obesity epidemic”

    Comment by Liz — July 28, 2005 #

  18. Liz–don’t construe my statement, “if Walmart is where people can afford to shop, that is okay,” to mean that I support Walmart. I hate the company, I hate the way they do business, I hate their treatment of employees and union-busting tactics, and will only shop there if I absolutely have to.

    Which…since I live in Athens–and Walmart is all we have–means I sometimes have to bite the bullet and give them some money. I begrudge the bastards every penny, but I will do it if I must.

    What I meant was, if the lower prices of Walmart–which are lower even than Kroger’s food prices–are all someone can afford–and I have been that poor more than once in my life–then I will be damned if I look down on these folks for it.

    And you are right–Americans do spend a lower amount of income on food than the citizens of any other developed nation, in large part, because of the artificially low prices on food here.

    And yeah–Americans do consume way too many calories–and generally way too many of those calories are processed foods of dubious nutritive value. Convenience foods are loaded with calories that often are essentially empty. Another calorie load, among both low and high income brackets are in the consumption of sodas and coffee drinks–some people take in as much as half their calories from soda per day–all high fructose corn syrup–and no nutrients.

    And we wonder why folks are getting fatter. Well, duh.

    I used to drink huge amounts of soda. And right after culinary college, I quit drinking Coke habitually, and instead drank water.

    I lost four dress sizes. Four. Cutting out soda took me down that much.

    Wow.

    When I tell people that, they are astounded. I think that if I went back to not drinking it at all, and cut even more refined sugar and flour out of my diet, I would lose even more weight, but there is that little issue that I was learning how to bake good pies–and if one bakes them, one must eat them–so, uh, well, there we are. ;-)

    But yeah. Cut out soda and lose at least ten pounds.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 28, 2005 #

  19. That’s what happened to me in college. I was having pizza and soda EVERY DAY for lunch (yikes!) and once I realized I was putting on the pounds, I switched to a turkey sandwich and water. What a difference! The other thing I noticed was how ill I felt after drinking a big soda. I’ll occasionally share a can of soda with my husband; any more than that and I feel sick. Not sure if it’s the sugar, the caffeine or a combination.

    When I worked in a preschool, I was always shocked by the parents who sent their kids to school with a can of soda and a box of Lunchables (I hate those things). Especially the kids who were already on the chubby side — wonder how they got that way? When I was a kid, the only lunchtime beverage I was allowed was milk. These days, it doesn’t seem like that’s as popular (plus I don’t exactly trust the milk, either, but that’s besides the point).

    Comment by Liz — July 29, 2005 #

  20. I suspect it to be the sugar–I get very sick after eating sugar cereal or anything else with a lot of sugar. Immoderate amounts of ice cream really do it these days.

    Yeah, when I was in school, all we drank was milk–even in high school. Though, there were soda machines in high school, most kids still drank milk out of habit.

    That isn’t the case anymore.

    I am shocked when I go to the grocery store and see people whose carts are filled half with soda. That is always creepy to me.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 29, 2005 #

  21. Going organic is not elitism in India.It is a way of supporting agriculture that remains in the hands of the people who grow crops affordably, looking to the best for their land.Sustainability is the key word here.It is a hope for a better livelihood for the small farmer , families who depend on very small holdings for their living.
    Very often organic food is cheaper than vegetables in supermarkets which are housed in airconditioned malls, and sold at ridiculous prices because they are packed, unnecessarily, in plastic and thermocole which are not bio-degradable.
    Whoever Ms Powell is, she desperately needs to be re-educated.

    Comment by deccanheffalump — July 29, 2005 #

  22. Hey, deccanheffalump! (that is a mouthful, you know…)

    Hey, dontcha know that you organic buying folks in India are all a bunch of elitist snobs!

    Actually, what you are talking about is how it used to be here in the US, back in the 1940′s or so–but the big grocery stores changed everything, turned things upside down and made it possible to buy cheap food shipped in from thousands of miles away while local farmers have to charge more because thier costs of production are higher.

    It is like we live in topsy-turvy land.

    I wonder what Ms. Powell would think of what you have to say about life in India? It would be interesting to see what she would think if she had experiences outside of her own life….

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — July 29, 2005 #

  23. frou-frou organic green iced tea with guarana and dingleberry extracts that is hand picked by virgins and brewed by solar power with filtered mountain water from Tibet before being decanted in limited edition glass-bottles and labelled with artwork representing the return of the Ancient Earth Mother Goddess Gaia

    LMAO! What a glorious description of twee! [grins]

    And applause for the wonderful rebuttal.

    Comment by Christina — August 1, 2005 #

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    Comment by Rose — October 13, 2005 #

  25. I think the comments on Ms. Powell’s generalizations of ‘food interested’ people are really quite valid.

    After having read her op-ed piece, it seems quite clear to me that she does not articulate that there is a huge variety of people in this world who live out their lives in very different ways. This includes food bloggers. I hardly think my life is similar to other bloggers or that they have the same set of opinions. In fact, it’s our individual and unique experience with food (and life) that makes reading other people’s posts so INTERESTING to begin with.

    On another note, this discussion on Walmart (which there are currently none near me in NYC–but some city officials would like to change that) got me thinking about another big box retailer, the wholesale clubs. Since they require membership many would not be able to afford, how does a company like Costco fit into all of this?

    Does anyone have any info?

    Comment by Rose — October 13, 2005 #

  26. I don’t actually know much about Costco, having never been to one myself, Rose. We don’t have one near here in Athens–in fact, I am thinking that we don’t even have one in Columbus, Ohio. I could be wrong, but I have never run across one.

    Mayhap I should do some research on it.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — October 14, 2005 #

  27. As a brand new food blogger, I’m reluctant to get too far into the fray over Julie/Julia and Powell’s recent other writings, but as a writer by profession (as well as art), I have to say that Powell’s op-ed on organic food is based on a pretty faulty premise – there is certainly the suggestion that most organics are funneled through places like Whole Foods or Farmer’s Markets, venues that are often exclusionary by virtue of their location and that tend to deliberately target a certain “Real Simple”/”Organic Style” demographic (i.e. those shopping and buying for the image rather than the benefits, per se).

    What Powell neglects to acknowledge – or at least properly explore – is the grassroots, communal aspects of organic farming and the very real social benefits of, for example, the Slow Food Movement (the international conference in Turin the other year offered a valuable forum for attendees from around the globe to share healthy, environmentally safe food, cultivation and farming concepts, techniques and ideas) and the vast, vast number of community-based organic farms and urban farming programs that are working to fill a much-needed hole in our welfare and social support services.

    Crabtree Farm, based in Chattanooga,TN is an excellent example, working with the local downtown shelter to create a community organic garden. Residents tend the garden, learn to grow their own food AND learn to prepare it. The farm runs similar projects with troubled teens and underprivileged schools/students (www.crabtreefarms.org). This is hardly elitism and hardly snobbery. It is, however, the basis of what could possibly be one small solution to a growing problem.
    I’m so glad to find other people tackling the same issues!
    Emma
    (from moderngirlskitchen.blogspot.com)

    Comment by emma — October 14, 2005 #

  28. [...] Tigers & Strawberries ยป Does Eating Organically Produced Local Food Make Me Elitist? I think there are definitely elitists among farmer’s market shoppers, but obviously they all aren’t. (There seems to be a whole elitist connotation associated with the word “foodie” that goes along with this, too.) (tags: shopping food elitism writing) [...]

    Pingback by Erin S. O’Connor » Blog Archive » links for 2006-05-25 — May 25, 2006 #

  29. Ms Fisher I feel that you have many valid points such as supporting the local farmers. I feel that people should not Criticize others about nutrition if they are not educated i understand others have opinions but to personally attack people’s choices. Eating locally organic food has shown to decrease seasonal allergies as well as improve over all health. Thank you for commenting on this article in which the writer was not educated before writing her thoughts.

    Comment by Catee StClair — April 23, 2007 #

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