Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Let's Play Games In Hell

I've got a new game for you. It's called "Find the Privilege"! (Oddly, Parker Bros. is not returning my calls.) It's fun! For the whole family!

Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods, gives us the scoop:

The problem: If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples.

Budget tip: If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. "I would rather see the trade-off being that I don't buy that expensive electronic gadget," he says. "Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.

Well, I suppose if I must curtail my collecting of 72" plasma TVs . . . for the children. I'm sure Dr. Kastel is innocently assuming we are all in his socioeconomic bracket. I'm sure he's simply never seen, heard of, or considered that there may be people who do not buy an "organic diet" because they have no money, no spending to cut and probably not much access to organics anyway. It's privilege and we can't fault the good doctor for implying that if you aren't feeding your children everything organic, it's because you hate them and hope they get cancer. Next week.

This same article suggests using bottled red sauce (i.e., Ragu) instead of making your own sauce out of canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes contain alien eggs which will explode from your children's stomachs 10 minutes after eating, and possibly consume a man's testicles.

All I have to say to that is that Ragu is a crime against nature and I would sooner eat the children themselves than eat Ragu.

Yes, it's just a title. There's really no need for anything else, the privilege is packed into those words and needs no further exposition. I'm not even sure where one buys organic meat. They don't sell it at my walmart. The issue of affordability is secondary to the privilege of even being able to obtain such a thing.

I did change the title for accuracy. (I'm also paraphrasing a bit)

Paint the walls, buy and maintain plants, buy things and donate things you don't need (what are those, anyway? i mean, things i don't need.), grow your own food, it's painted certain colors, but it reflects you perfectly, put in more windows- and skylights!- the furniture is new and comfortable!


Privilege: it's what's not for dinner.


  1. yeeeeah-- and isn't it funny how it's the women who are supposed to grow food, can and preserve it, and then make delicious time consuming meals out of it. Which, you know. Kind of erases people with disabilities, and as you mentioned, the poor, or those living in huge food deserts.

    The thing that I find most enraging about this, though, is that women are supposed to do all of this labor, which would presumably involve quitting their jobs-- for free. Just to prove how much we love our spouses and children.

    My time is worth something. Women's time, is worth something. Things printed at the mint, not heirloom tomatoes and home grow, home butchered plucked and cook chickens.

  2. Nobody ever considers the disabled, or the value of time. Which is odd on the time thing since most people don't work for free.

  3. Just because being exposed to large quantities of something is harmful, doesn't mean that small quantities of the same thing is harmful. Pesticides help feed millions of people who would have nothing at all if we had to rely on organic food alone.

  4. Mandy's right. There's a name for that fallacy, too. I forget what it is. Any of the medications I take would be toxic in sufficiently high doses, but are necessary for me to survive. There is a difference between large amounts of something and small amounts of something.

  5. Oops, silly little me, my head is obviously fogged with post surgery meds and ideas like women=people.
    People get paid for their work, you know. Women are just biological servants who should be so extremely gratified to serve an actual person, that we don't even worry about things like financial security, agency, and autonomy. You know. Piddly little stuff like that. It's all about proving through our selfless good works that we are not completely worthless.

    And yes, thirded on the small doses/large doses thing.

    I think that the food issue may be my least favorite lefty blind spot-- nobody wants to talk about the immense privilege involved in being able to eat the best most chemical free food, and there is so much fat phobia that gets conflated with it that we tend to ignore the structural issues, as well as the fact that my body =/= your business.

  6. "Just because being exposed to large quantities of something is harmful, doesn't mean that small quantities of the same thing is harmful."

    Very true. The anti-vaxers are always going on about the nanograms of POISON! POOOIIIISOOON!! in vaccines, despite the fact that you get more of the same stuff from eating normally for a week.

    There are always exceptions to the rule, though. Nuclear Power (or more accurately, radiation and radioactive isotopes) is one of my pet hates precisely because it is dangerous in any quantity. Unlike most poisons, which damage your body by overwhelming whatever defenses you have against them, radiation kills the moment one of it's particles gets lucky and strikes a cell in just the right way. That cell will grow into a cancerous tumor years from now. Danger from radioactivity is statistically culmative.

    On Topic: The time thing is weird. Ever since I started wage slaving, I began calculating the cost of things in hours. "That burger means working for 15 minutes," "Paying this bill is costing me 5 hours," "That laptop would be worth 2 weeks," etc. And vise versa: I'll work the first day and a half to pay for food, etc. It really puts things, including housekeeping work, in perspective.

  7. we disabled people HAVE no worth, other than A) showing people that it sucks to be disabled, don't do it, B) making people "feel good" about themselves for being nice to a disabled person and C) being "good crips" and LETTING people "help" you, and being properly overly grateful, so that "normal" people can feel good about themselves.

    and THAT is only on the Left - on the Right, we don't even have THAT much worth. i'm pretty sure most Libertarians would be happier if i just up and died, because i'm a "drain" on Social Security [THAT I PAID FOR!!!!!!!!] while Republicans wish i'd die so that i could stop being a talking point for the Dems.

  8. Quasar, ionizing radiation works in the same way as the other carcinogens. It needs to cause pretty specific mutations (which, by the way, can happen during normal cell division just as well), and then it is a game of luck whether the specific tumor type that arises triggers the immune response and never manifests or "flies under the radar" and produces an actual tumor. Also, the vast majority of the radiation that we absorb comes from natural sources, the majority of man-caused exposure comes from medical imaging, and the majority of the remaining sliver is due to burning fossil fuels (and thus releasing radioactive contaminants in them).

    That being said, the less random organically active chemicals are there in one's food, the better; and having affordable food beats having unaffordable one, so ... yeah, lesser evil all the way.

  9. "Quasar, ionizing radiation works in the same way as the other carcinogens."

    I understand this. No amount of carcinogens is "safe," so I suppose I'm less against radiation as I am against cancer in general. But I understand radiation better than other carcinogens, so it scares me more.

    I also understand that, short of living in the vicinity of a power station/waste dumping ground/Fukushima, we get the majority of our radiation from natural sources. Okay, that means that more-than-50 percent of radiation-caused cancers are "natural". That still leaves a huge quantity of man-made cancers, the exact number of which can never be compiled because they're indistinguishable from the normal ones.

    ... Off topic.

    I admit, a certain amount of my anti-nuke sentiment is emotional rather than rational, and was instilled in me when I was a young child. The primary-school libarary had a little "true story" book, wirtten from the perspective of a young japanese girl living in modern Nagasaki. I was roughly the same age as her when I read it. I don't remember many specifics besides the beautiful coloured-pencil sketches it was illustrated with, the casual descriptions of a culture I'd never seen before, and the little girls disbelief when she was diagnosed with "the bomb disease": leukemia.

    She spent her time in hospital making hundreds of origami cranes, watching as the friends she made there, other leukemia patients, vanished. The book was written from her perspective: she thought they had just left the hospital and gone home. So did I. Thebook ended with her lying in hospital falling asleep, thinking about all her friends and wondering when she'd be able to go home too.

    There's a statue in a garden in Nagasaki, dedicated to her. People leave paper cranes at the base.

    When I finally worked it out, I cried.


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