Peaches

I just bought these two peaches from a supermarket. The small one is organic, while the large one is a conventional peach. I wonder…. how do they make it so large? Chemical pesticides and fertilizers? Probably.

Genetic modification? Maybe, who knows. After all, in the US producers are not required to label their genetically modified products (and in fact, a majority of foods you buy in a typical American supermarket- particularly processed foods and some fruits and vegetables) are in some way genetically modified.

Why on Earth would we not be made aware of what we are eating? After all, who knows what GMOs (genetically modified organisms) do to our health? Who knows the long-term consequences? What we DO know, is that lab tests on animals being fed GMOs all point to the negative. Liver issues, reproductive issues, metabolic and endocrine issues. The list goes on.

There are indeed, arguments to both sides of this topic. I have done several research papers and projects about it, and in my somewhat educated opinion – it simply isn’t worth the risks. In reality, there is no need for GMOs. We are indeed able to produce enough “natural” food (yep, even without pesticides and other chemicals) to feed the growing masses.

The sad part is that in America, it’s very difficult to avoid GMOs. These enormous companies (ie: Monsanto) have enough lobbying power to keep GMO labels off our foods – whyyyy???? Because they know that once these foods are labeled, there will be severe public backlash leading to a huge decrease in buying these foods and a shift in demand towards NON-GMO foods. Basically, an overhaul of our conventional farming and feeding system.  I’m not kidding.

In Europe, it is mandatory to label anything that is genetically modified as such. There are intense restrictions on imports that are genetically modified. Result: no one eats genetically modified foods. They simply don’t exist because there is no market for them. All foods in Europe are “real” (excluding processing and I’m sure chemicals, but to a lesser extent than here in the US).

If anyone is interested, I can forward you my latest paper on GMOs. You can find here some interesting scientific info on growing peaches.


So what was the verdict on the peaches? The organic one tasted slightly better than the conventional one- which usually just tastes like they are trying to make it big because that’s what Americans like – a lot of whatever it is they’re eating. Not much flavor.
The best peaches I’ve had this year came from a real local farm. Sweet, soft, and organic. Hopefully I’ll be going back there tomorrow!

 

 

8 Comments on “Peaches

  1. I’d like to object to two things:

    ===========
    “In Europe, it is mandatory to label anything that is genetically modified as such. There are intense restrictions on imports that are genetically modified. Result: no one eats genetically modified foods. They simply don’t exist because there is no market for them. All foods in Europe are “real” (excluding processing and I’m sure chemicals, but to a lesser extent than here in the US).”
    ===========

    1. I live in a European _developing_ country which kind of has GMO regulations, but, as of summer 2010 when I researched the topic,
    a) the imported products weren’t checked for GMO (the government had no money for this), so for the things which are frequently imported in wholesale (like, rice from India – and you might know that a lot of rice there is GMO), there was a chance that we actually were getting GMO-containing products which were just marked as no GMO.
    b) the organization which had to do random test checks of the products hadn’t been getting any money for this from the government for several years, and then finally got some last year, but SOME.
    You might say – come on, people are mostly honest, but the trick is that test checks for other things (sausages on how much soy they actually contain, milk products on bad bacterias and % of vegetable oils, blueberry-containing vitamins, etc.,) always give surprising results regarding at least some of the manufacturers in our local market.

    2. We have quite a lot of local farmers markets. There are 3 types of sellers:
    * those that just sell the products (they buy them wholesale from the farmers)
    * farmers or their employees
    * old ladies with low pensions who keep a near-city for-rent garden or live in a small farm house which always have gardens (it’s happened that pensions in my country are low for most old people, so the way these people are able to support themselves is either by taking money from their well-adjusted grownup kids, or by keeping a garden. Or having a job, if they have the opportunity to.)

    The products are sold
    * on official food markets (in theory, the product there are tested by the local laboratory, but bribing is still quite popular in the country, so there is no 100% guarantee in this case)
    * in vegetable/fruit kiosks
    * in high-trafficked places, on ad-hoc basis (old ladies, some farmers growing/selling short-seasoned products) – obviously their product isn’t tested by laboratories.

    === But the trick is:
    * the farmers (amateur and professional) aren’t educated about safe farming and also don’t test the soil before renting/buying the garden/farm.
    Example on substance misuse: the local news mentioned a farmer whose produce was rejected (several tons of melons containing 10 times more nitrates than allowed) from the official food market. But our legislation doesn’t force the laboratory to destroy the produce in such cases, so obviously the farmer, to avoid going bankrupt, sold his produce on “more friendly’ markets after this.
    * some territories in the city and near-city have above-the-norm radioactive soil contamination because of the specifics of our local manufacturing company (which actually feeds a big part of the city, so nobody will go against this company ever), and the people aren’t educated on where these spots are.
    * near-city for-rent gardens are just several big fields divided in patches, so if one of the farmers is using something bad, their neighbouring gardens get contaminated too (via the soil+water cycle or via the air).

    What I’m saying is each country and maybe even city has its specific local issues :) Naturally, this doesn’t mean they don’t have to be managed.

    ============
    “I just bought these two peaches from a supermarket. The small one is organic, while the large one is a conventional peach. I wonder…. how do they make it so large? Chemical pesticides and fertilizers? Probably.”
    ============
    I don’t really want to object here, I’ll just elaborate on the “Probably” part, just in case:

    First, there are different sorts of peaches and because of this and also different climate+soil richness conditions, their sizes can vary. Very basic example: look at the open-air cactuses in Mexico and at the cactus which is a houseplant.

    Second, there is an artifical selection/selective breeding thing, which is a non-GMO way to get “better” (bigger, stronger, etc.) animals and vegetables/fruits.

    Which means that big peaches don’t necessarily contain bad things.

    • No, big peaches don’t necessarily mean “bad”. Selective breeding can certainly be accomplished without the use of pesticides, etc. From my experience with researching agricultural practices here in the US which are on a corporate farming level, lots of chemicals are typically used. Chain supermarkets like ShopRite buy from these corporate suppliers, so most likely, my giganto peach needs to be thoroughly washed. And then there’s the issue of selectively breeding for appearance, not nutritional value (as mentioned in a previous reply). I don’t know all that much about the nutrition aspect of it, but if peach growers are anything like humans, we like to pick and choose based on looks, not always quality ;)

      Thanks for the info about the farming/GMO situation in your country. Which country is it? The information I got regarding the very tight regulations on GMO imports was only regarding the EU. There’s so many factors that come into play when talking about agriculture!

      • 1) Ukraine. And thanks for reading my lengthy monologue :)

        I could have stated my point more clearly though:
        I’m just skeptical when I see absolute statements like “In Europe…there are intense restrictions on imports that are genetically modified. Result: no one eats genetically modified foods.”
        I’ve done a bunch international (secondary) market researches and each time discovered that for-export version of country analytics doesn’t mention the pitfalls/problems that you find covered in local-language media.

        By the way, if you are interested in “sustainability worldwide”, you might find Quora a great tool for internaitonal research.
        You can find there (or ask for) insider info from different countries, from industry professionals.
        Historically, it has a lot of web industry/biz people; filmmaking threads are also very interesting, but I see that http://www.quora.com/Sustainability is also quite active.
        (In case Quora is still invite-only, I’ve just sent one to the email from your Contact page.)

        I also run into http://www.mendeley.com recently and see that http://www.mendeley.com/environmental-sciences/ can be of value too.

        2) Sorry, I forgot that you live in another country. Of course USA food production+retail industry has its specifics.

        • Thanks for the Invite, Vera. I joined the site, seems really interesting and a useful tool. You make a good point, I should not be making statements so confidently when I should know at this point that information may not always be as it seems. Thanks!

          Sara

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