Some comments on Louis's,  Jim's, and Michael B's posts.

1. I well remember when Whole Foods came to Berkeley, housing itself  
in the building that was once the Telegraph Co-op and refusing to have  
anything to do with unions, thus leading to a years-long boycott. of  
course Whole Foods is capitalist with a vengeance. Capitalist  
companies sometimes do grow remarkably and we shouldn't wonder that WF  
is one of them. It now is having trouble due to typical capitalist  
problems: over-growth, coupled with wanting too large profits, thus  
pricing itself out of markets.

2. The claim  that "this is where it all began" (implicitly about  
organic food) that WF puts up is nonsense. A few centuries ago, all  
food was organic. The movement to reinstate that began in England in  
the 19th c.

3. Of course, in the "good old days" outbreaks of disease related to  
food were common. When you use "night soil" on the fields as the  
Cinese, say, did, there is often contamination. Using manure as  
fertilizer today can cause similar problems. And as Fernand Braudel  
points out in "The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the  
Age of Philip II" lowland areas were repeatedly colonized by highland  
farmers only for them all to die from malaria.

4. As to Marx's suggestion mentioned by Louis in his blog post, to  
better integrate city and country, it happens that version of the was  
instituted in post-war Japan as a method to maintain the dominance of  
the (rightist) Liberal Democratic party. Rice farmers were heavily  
subsidized and protected, and rural areas became the centers of many  
small-scale industries. that is still in place, but the children of  
farmers now refuse to farm, in many cases, and the sytem seems to be  
in partial collapse. On the other hand, in the US a closer integration  
fo city and country is now common place, instantiated by young people  
moving to farms, farmers markets and various means of ordering  
direct.  What that means in terms o energy efficiency, pollution and  
prices is more complex.

5. So where should we go from here? I don't think there is any one  
answer, but better government regulation, more inspectors, better  
alternatives to refrigerator trucks spewing exhaust, new crops, better  
means of integrating city and country, the Alice Waters movement to  
introduce gardening in public schools, and  a host of other movements,  
certainly including those who are partly inspired by Michael Pollan  
all seem worthwhile. Organic by itself is no panacea, ad being  
torigorus about it may be foolish.  Although I am against the way GM  
crops are pushed now by Monsnto, etc., I think we should not rule out  
forms of bioengineering either.  Finally, as I saw first hadn whenI  
was in DC in the 80's, the Agriculture Dept is nearly totally corrupt  
and agricultural subsidies are antagonistic to most people and no help  
to small farms. Subsidies should not be eliminated, because they still  
do keep some farms going, but they could be altered considerably to do  
better for all without enriching a few unnecessarily. Getting to any  
of these places ,I think, will take combination of open minds, unusual  
alliances, imagination and patience.


On Aug 11, 2008, at 12:12 AM, Michael Balter wrote:

> o if "organic" food is not really organic, and even the markets that  
> do sell it idle their trucks and are owned by capitalists and are  
> subject to E. coli infections, what do Louis and Jim suggest that we  
> do? Begin a grassroots campaign to force Whole Foods to sell nothing  
> but organics? Go on hunger strike? Shop at supermarkets that have no  
> pretentions to be anything but capitalist, pesticide-laden  
> retailers? I am not sure where we go with this information.
> MB
> On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 8:17 AM, Jim West <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Louis,
> You write, "Whole Foods Market is all about organics."