Those Dillweeds & Their Organics

TLDR: I think I have a distaste for labeling greater than I thought. And if you can afford organics and “happy” foods, don’t be a smug douche about it.


Steve’s recent post on smugness & organics got me thinking about status symbols in our country. It seems that in some ways we’ve shifted from using jewels, cars, and cash money as status symbols and moved on to food and labels as symbols of status. Organic-label produce, antibiotic-free meats, CSAs… these are not things that come at bargain-basement prices. Nor should they, for all of the work they entail. 


Organics require certification from the USDA, which is both expensive and time consuming. Fox Creek Farm‘s CSA shares nearly doubled when they became certified organic, and they said it was entirely a result of becoming USDA-certified organic. Farms operating organically for the most part must comply to strict regulations in order to be certified as organic. The slightest deviation from these rigid rules could cause a certified organic farm to lose their labeling. I’d rather buy from a farm that says “We’re organic, we just don’t want to go through the rigid USDA certification process” or “We’re organic for the most part, sometimes we need to use XYZ products.”
I wonder how my grampy would have thought about our current farming and labeling industry.



Factory farms suck. There’s no debating that. You’d have to be pretty dick to argue that factory farmed animals subsist off of rainbows and Ecstasy & don’t spend most of their lives in cramped conditions in the name of low consumer prices. Meat is a luxury. When we buy it, we are lucky to be able to do so. Many people confuse this with a necessity in order to survive. Is meat delicious? Absolutely. Is it critical to the American diet? Arguably, yes and no. I know so many people that can’t imagine a meal without meat, and that we Americans are entitled to artificially low prices. That said, the labeling of “happy” meats is frustrating to say the least. I think it equally inhumane to deny an animal antibiotics when they are sick just because the farmer wouldn’t be able to sell it as antibiotic-free or hormone-free afterward. I’d much rather eat an animal that had a few antibiotic shots within its lifetime. I’d probably be classified as a freaking antibioitic-laden Smithfield pork roast for all of the antibiotics me and my awful immune system have suffered through most of my life. 
What annoys me about status-conscious consumers of “happy” meats are people that say things like “I just feel better feeding my family foods that are pure” or “Well, it’s worth the investment in it because it’s better for you,” and look down on people that don’t buy expensive organic/”happy” products. Not everyone can afford $10/lb grass fed ground beef. Those that do should consider it lucky; and as a society, we should view meat more as a luxury and less of a necessity. Those factory-farmed meats usually don’t even taste very “meat-y” (let’s lose the subsidies & see what the prices really should be). I’d rather be veg most of the month/week and eat tasty meat only sparingly at home. Oh, let’s not get started with meat from a restaurant.


CSAs can be rocking. You get a bunch of veggies, and you’re supporting local farms. But goodness, the people that get all up in arms about people HAVING to do it are annoying. Let’s create a pro-veggie smug-status-symbol in the US. And I’m not talking veganism/vegetarianism, but a movement that celebrates how delicious vegetables can be, and how much more of an efficient use of global resources vegetables and grains are.


Maybe I’m just getting to a certain age in life where I think glorification of status symbols and attention whoring masked as saintliness are lame. 

14 comments
  1. Well said AJ. While it is true that local grass fed/finished beef is more expensive than the crap sold everywhere, I tell my customers,(I sell the product) to eat less and supplement with fresh local and not necessarily certified organic vegs. Now. a quick blub about how this certification came to be for local farmers. So the USDA could make room for Big -ag in the "organic' marketplace, local farmers had to go thru all kinds of documentation to be called "certified organic". There are some farmers at local farmers markets which skipped this process and are none the less just that. A bit more expensive, you bet, but they maka an honest living and not being anywhere middle class financially speaking, I (we) eat healthy and local.

  2. Well said AJ. While it is true that local grass fed/finished beef is more expensive than the crap sold everywhere, I tell my customers,(I sell the product) to eat less and supplement with fresh local and not necessarily certified organic vegs. Now. a quick blub about how this certification came to be for local farmers. So the USDA could make room for Big -ag in the "organic' marketplace, local farmers had to go thru all kinds of documentation to be called "certified organic". There are some farmers at local farmers markets which skipped this process and are none the less just that. A bit more expensive, you bet, but they maka an honest living and not being anywhere middle class financially speaking, I (we) eat healthy and local.

  3. I think I take exception with Anonymous's characterization of how and why national organic standards came into place.It was the dyed in the wool organic farmers who pushed an uninterested federal government for a national standard. There were regional certifying bodies, but their reach only went so far. In many ways it was intended to protect the sanctity of what it means to be organic. Ah, the irony. Maybe it was the innocence of the Organic Trade Association in not realizing that the USDA is there for Big Ag and not consumers. But the federal organic standards have declined to the point where many of those true believers have switched over to bio-dynamic farming.Lots of people with specialized diets are a-holes about it. Whether it's local, organic, kosher, paleo, raw, atkins, gluten-free, or whatever, the problem isn't the diet, it's a lack of manners. As far as the cost of grass-fed beef and organic produce, CSAs require a sizable outlay of money, but at least mine is a remarkably good deal for what you get. And I'm hoping once Whole Foods comes to the area, there is a place besides Adventure in Food Trading to get reasonably priced happy meat. Because what HWFC charges for the stuff is outrageous.

  4. I think I take exception with Anonymous's characterization of how and why national organic standards came into place.It was the dyed in the wool organic farmers who pushed an uninterested federal government for a national standard. There were regional certifying bodies, but their reach only went so far. In many ways it was intended to protect the sanctity of what it means to be organic. Ah, the irony. Maybe it was the innocence of the Organic Trade Association in not realizing that the USDA is there for Big Ag and not consumers. But the federal organic standards have declined to the point where many of those true believers have switched over to bio-dynamic farming.Lots of people with specialized diets are a-holes about it. Whether it's local, organic, kosher, paleo, raw, atkins, gluten-free, or whatever, the problem isn't the diet, it's a lack of manners. As far as the cost of grass-fed beef and organic produce, CSAs require a sizable outlay of money, but at least mine is a remarkably good deal for what you get. And I'm hoping once Whole Foods comes to the area, there is a place besides Adventure in Food Trading to get reasonably priced happy meat. Because what HWFC charges for the stuff is outrageous.

  5. Chelle said:

    "Lots of people with specialized diets are a-holes about it. Whether it's local, organic, kosher, paleo, raw, atkins, gluten-free, or whatever, the problem isn't the diet, it's a lack of manners."This is exactly my problem with this entire discussion. People are a-holes in general, on a variety of different issues. Some are jerks about organic, some are jerks about NOT eating organic, some are jerks about wine, or clouds, or the color blue.No one group is any less jerky than any other. This discussion (in general, not yours specifically Albany Jane) about some group being especially jerky just smacks of jerkiness itself.

  6. Chelle said:

    "Lots of people with specialized diets are a-holes about it. Whether it's local, organic, kosher, paleo, raw, atkins, gluten-free, or whatever, the problem isn't the diet, it's a lack of manners."This is exactly my problem with this entire discussion. People are a-holes in general, on a variety of different issues. Some are jerks about organic, some are jerks about NOT eating organic, some are jerks about wine, or clouds, or the color blue.No one group is any less jerky than any other. This discussion (in general, not yours specifically Albany Jane) about some group being especially jerky just smacks of jerkiness itself.

  7. KB said:

    I love this post.I mean, yeah, sure, we'd all like to buy "happy meat" and feel all smug and self-righteous about what we're eating. And yeah, y'know, maybe it is a bit better for us. But it's also really freakin' expensive, and a lot of us don't have that kind of money. We shouldn't be made to feel bad about eating some steak or chicken once in a while 'cause it's not grass-fed organic frou-frou meat.For that matter, CSAs are expensive, too. I'd love to join one, but I don't have that kind of money, especially when there are only two of us and we'd probably really struggle to use up everything in the box every week (and if we didn't, that would drive our net cost even higher).

  8. KB said:

    I love this post.I mean, yeah, sure, we'd all like to buy "happy meat" and feel all smug and self-righteous about what we're eating. And yeah, y'know, maybe it is a bit better for us. But it's also really freakin' expensive, and a lot of us don't have that kind of money. We shouldn't be made to feel bad about eating some steak or chicken once in a while 'cause it's not grass-fed organic frou-frou meat.For that matter, CSAs are expensive, too. I'd love to join one, but I don't have that kind of money, especially when there are only two of us and we'd probably really struggle to use up everything in the box every week (and if we didn't, that would drive our net cost even higher).

  9. Erin said:

    I agree with Chelle. Your post makes you sound like a jerk. I don't go out to dinner all the time or on vacation like you do. Almost never because it's important for me that my family eats healthy and mostly organic foods. Not eating out all the time, once or twice a year tops allows me to spend that extra money on organic foods which are still cheaper than most restaurants. I could just as well write a post; I hate snobs who brag about their vacations and eating out all the time. And PS please stop saying nom all the time. I know your blog is about food but a new word please. Nom in every post makes me want to puke for your lack of originality

  10. Erin said:

    I agree with Chelle. Your post makes you sound like a jerk. I don't go out to dinner all the time or on vacation like you do. Almost never because it's important for me that my family eats healthy and mostly organic foods. Not eating out all the time, once or twice a year tops allows me to spend that extra money on organic foods which are still cheaper than most restaurants. I could just as well write a post; I hate snobs who brag about their vacations and eating out all the time. And PS please stop saying nom all the time. I know your blog is about food but a new word please. Nom in every post makes me want to puke for your lack of originality

  11. Boo. All of your good vibes are gone. Hanging around with that pathetic penny pinching loudmouth has ruined you. Effervescent fondness for oral treats nonwithstanding, now you are just another garden variety whiny entitled "food blogger", and it's sad to see.

  12. Boo. All of your good vibes are gone. Hanging around with that pathetic penny pinching loudmouth has ruined you. Effervescent fondness for oral treats nonwithstanding, now you are just another garden variety whiny entitled "food blogger", and it's sad to see.

  13. @chelle – you pretty much nailed where I was trying to go with this post. I don't care what anyone's diet is, so long as they're not all holier than thou about it.@erin – I like your style of eating. It sounds reasonable, and juggling household economics usually involves choices. Sorry if my post rang something unpleasant with you. I was picturing someone a la that South Park prius smug cloud episode.@hamby – I consider myself lucky, I'll have to try & work on my tongue-in-cheek writing, I spose.

  14. @chelle – you pretty much nailed where I was trying to go with this post. I don't care what anyone's diet is, so long as they're not all holier than thou about it.@erin – I like your style of eating. It sounds reasonable, and juggling household economics usually involves choices. Sorry if my post rang something unpleasant with you. I was picturing someone a la that South Park prius smug cloud episode.@hamby – I consider myself lucky, I'll have to try & work on my tongue-in-cheek writing, I spose.

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