Saturday, April 11, 2009

The chemical industry is shuddering!

I got a message today called "Don't Poison the Obama puppy" from Credo. Evidently the chemical industry is up in arms because Michelle Obama is not using garden chemicals in her organic garden. (Maybe they didn't realize that the Bush family are also organic gardeners back home in Texas!)

According the the email, an organization called Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has apparently convinced itself - or at least its spokesman - that plants can't grow without chemicals. (Whatever did plants do before the chemical industry?)

Their spokesman sent an extensive open letter to Mrs Obama telling of the Wonderful Things Chemistry Can Do For You, which it also sent to its supporters with a cover letter. Spies from a foody blog called La Vida Locavore managed to get a copy of the letter, which is available for your edification on their website. In the cover letter to supporters the spokeman wrote:

spring weather & pesticides
Originally uploaded by gribley.
Did you hear the news? The White House is planning to have an "organic" garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama's and their guests. While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and [me] shudder. As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy. [all emphasis mine.]
The letter tells all about how modern technology since 1900 has made it possible for "an average farmer" to produce enough food for 144 people. He doesn't mention that it would be pretty boring to be the person getting his nourishment alone from the crop of a corn or soy farmer! He tells about how farmers were the "first environmentalists" (that is, before the chemists got to them!) I particularly love this sentence:
Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical. Local and conventional farming is not mutually exclusive. However, a Midwest mother whose child loves strawberries, a good source of Vitamin C, appreciates the ability to offer California strawberries in March a few months before the official Mid-west season.
Local Strawberries in January...since I have been horrified at the quality of even local California strawberries like these compared to what I have known and loved up north in Maine and Denmark! The local strawberries in stores are white inside, rather than red, and they don't reach out to you with enticing strawberry fragrance as you wall by. If you were blind, you'd have to stick your nose in the box to figure out that they were strawberries. I've tried making the favorite Danish summer strawberry dessert Jordbærgrød med fløde but it isn't as red, and tastes sort of watery. I've doctored it by adding ginger and more sugar, and finally fruit juices, but it will never be the same! I remember deserts in Denmark consisting of large bowls of big strawberries that we had picked in the garden just before dinner! I pity those poor Midwestern children who don't even have local strawberries anymore since all farm land has gone to corn and soy. I'm afraid that even local strawberries from our farmers' market don't grab you like fresh Danish strawberries sold by a local farmer outside our supermarket!

The letter from MACA concludes with this fine paragraph:

As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply. America's farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.
The email I got concluded with a petition: Tell the Pesticide Peddlers: We support Michelle Obama's organic garden. I urge you to sign it!


We are enjoying our own mini organic garden starting to wake up. Actually here in California we've been harvesting a few red bell peppers all winter long. The strawberries are coming along nicely, too, and it's about time to get some more tomato plants!

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