Re: A Melange Of Links And Opinions

1

You've got it all wrong, ogged! Kudo to KitchenAid and the NYT for helping a poet market herself!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:14 AM
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That peach hero graphic on the consumer reports page is pretty sweet. It probably takes a bunch of bandwidth it takes, but it looks like they cut the animation from it for mobile. Some nice, professional work, that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:26 AM
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The organic CR page, if I'm understanding it, completely discounts environmental effects from conventional farming and effects of pesticides on farmworkers. I'm not particularly worried about the effects of pesticides on the consumer, but the environmental/worker effects seem to me to be significant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:31 AM
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3: Experts at Consumer Reports believe that organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:35 AM
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I'm not particularly worried about the effects of pesticides on the consumer

The CR report summarizes a lot of the relevant research suggesting that you should be.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:40 AM
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I mean, you shouldn't be nearly as concerned about the consumer health risks as you are about the risks to the environment and to farm workers, so fundamentally I agree with your criticism of the article, but that doesn't mean you should be unconcerned about consumer health risks from pesticide exposures.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:43 AM
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I'm not really concerned with the effect GMO food on consumers (the effect on the environment and the abuse of disastrous intellectual property regimes is another story), but I'm a bit more concerned now that pesticides are genetically engineered into the food itself. Like, I don't think that fruit should be capable of poisoning bugs all on its own. And, if it is, I don't really want to eat it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:53 AM
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Bugs are capable of damaging fruit on their own. Seems time for revenge.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:56 AM
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4: Sure, they nod to it, but the whole point of the article is distinguishing between foods where it matters and where it doesn't matter, and that distinction only considers risks to the consumer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:58 AM
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Also eggs. Battery farming is cruel to the chickens, but it's also the case that the nutritional content of eggs from chickens who get outside and get a varied diet is better.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 9:59 AM
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Plants are already capable of poisoning bugs all by themselves. That's what, for example, tannin is for. Plants are vicious blighters in a "quand on l'attaque il se defend" way.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:00 AM
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Tempting to be cynical, but as one executive's gesture, this is solid.

This guy seems like a closet Koch-plant, designed to make liberals look bad. A 20% loss in revenue in 2009 nearly put the company out of business. What happens next time? I can guess--the company goes out of business and becomes a poster child for the right. And note that he's still got all the equity, and is still (after the raises are fully implemented, assuming no profit growth in the three years between now and then) expecting $440k in profits. So it's not like he's going to be roughing it. Wouldn't a much better approach to socializing the profits of this business be to have given much smaller raises and set up a meaningful profit sharing plan in which all employees participate? He can still be a greedy pig and keep 20% all for himself, but divide the other 80% equally among the workforce. That would be a way both to better insulate the business from downside risk and to much more fairly spread the wealth and reduce intercompany income inequalities.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:00 AM
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"Intracompany", I meant.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:02 AM
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IANATaxL, but wouldn't the company end up paying corporate tax on the profits (and then the recipients of the profit sharing pay their own tax on it), in a way that it doesn't if it spends the same money on salaries? I take your point about insulation against risk, but if I have the tax implications straight, which I very easily might not (is there something special about employee profit sharing rather than just regular dividends?), I think it'd be expensive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:07 AM
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The post title sounds like the second line of something about Marie of Roumania.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:09 AM
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I wanted to try prophet sharing once, but everybody else was insistent that I not drink any of Elijah's wine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:09 AM
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14: I didn't mean literally parcel out the equity (although there are tax-effective ways to do that with an ESOP), I just meant have agreements to pay out the profits in cash, which are ordinary income/wages to the recipient and deductible for the company.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:12 AM
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If annual income/expenses are regular enough throughout the course of the year, you can even make the special profit payments monthly or quarterly, so people don't have to wait for year end to get their extra checks.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:16 AM
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7,8: They should engineer carnivorous fruit that eats the bugs.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:23 AM
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--Small-company CEO raises his company's minimum wage to $70k. Tempting to be cynical, but as one executive's gesture, this is solid.

I find it interesting that the company is a credit-card payment processing firm. Not sure whether to call that ironic or the only kind of company in the world where this could happen. A small business can do things like this unilaterally, when it would be harder at a larger one. I'm not sure exactly what the company does but it sounds like customer service, which sucks for people on both ends, so employee satisfaction would probably be low. But it's still the financial industry, so profits are probably high, so they have the cushion to afford something like this. All in all, good for the CEO, but this really isn't generalizable.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:28 AM
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I agree with 3, no assessment of risk either to farm workers ( I believe that strawberries are especially bad, fumigant insecticide exposure ) or health risks from farm workers with no sanitary place to relieve themselves.

5.2 is a surprising assessment. I skimmed the CR interface (yes, flashy), looks like a recap or possibly just repackaging of this UCD study. Takeaway-- bell peppers and peaches, buying organic makes marginal sense from a consumer health standpoint. Other fruit + veg, less so. CR suggest green beans also, not covered by that UCD paper, so maybe they have an alternate source, I confess to writing this instead of reading the CR footnotes.

For treating workers well, I try buying from local farmers markets as much as I can, personally. I don't see a meaningful way to affect large retailers' practices, much less those of their suppliers.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:31 AM
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7. I'm pretty sure that corn is the only commercial GMO modified to harm insects, the relevant protein is barely expressed in kernels, and also does not show up in animals fed GMO corn.

I sympathize with the sentiment, but I'm not worried about this one.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:40 AM
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I feel like "buy organic to protect conditions for workers" in the absence of an organized movement/more information about just what those workers' conditions actually are, is silly consumer feel-good non-activism.*

For example, you can certainly buy organic Driscoll's strawberries, but you probably shouldn't do so. On the other hand e.g. this company is unionized and sells lots of non-organic stuff. I mean if there's a specific organizing campaign going on around the use of pesticides in the field by one brand it's one thing, but if not it seems like a weird reason to pay 2x as much for your fruits and vegetables.**

*Doesn't mean that there aren't other environmental reasons to buy organic, though these are often unspecified.
**Which we do anyway for reasons related to my inability to convince my wife that "organic" as a label is largely a who-cares.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:48 AM
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19: But then what will be left for vegans to eat?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:51 AM
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the relevant protein is barely expressed in kernels

You know, I tell people there is barely any aspartame in my Diet Coke, and they still give me shit about it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 10:59 AM
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my inability to convince my wife that "organic" as a label is largely a who-cares.

I am sometimes surprised at how strong my habit of buying organic is. I started buying organic about fifteen years ago and, at that point, I felt like there was a difference in the quality of the food that I was getting -- which perhaps reflected something about organic, or just the fact that the one store in town that carried 100% organic had a small but carefully chosen selection and their stuff tended to be good.

Either way, that was enough for me build the habit and at this point, I almost believe that in most cases there's no significant difference between conventional and organic, but that belief isn't strong enough to override my habit and so . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 11:15 AM
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Once, while buying organic cheese curls, I decided that maybe organic vs. not organic wasn't the biggest issue in my diet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 11:17 AM
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That could be a spurious correlation. I've bought lots of cheese curls.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 11:28 AM
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A Trail of Cheese Curl Crumbs: The Moby Hick Story


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 11:48 AM
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My brother, who runs a mill that produces high-end whole grain type products, doesn't seem to give a shit about organic any more. Or rather, he rolls his eyes when crunchy hippies from Madison insist on buying organic flour over the other stuff that's just as good, but not certifiable for whatever reason. He seems to be much more interested in promoting the "local food" movement.

Which to me is a bit of bollocks. I don't really give a shit about food being local. I mean, all food is local to somewhere, right? Why does a farmer 50 miles away from me deserve my money more than one 500 miles away?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 11:52 AM
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A Trail of Cheese Curl Crumbs: The Moby Hick Story

"They called him the Squirrel Hill Curler, and he was no stranger to late nights and orange-powder-covered fingertips."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 11:55 AM
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30: In my experience living in the Finger Lakes of New York, local strawberries tasted a lot better than the ones shipped in from California.

Also when visiting the St. Lawrence region of Quebec, the local cheese producers made delicious stuff, the quality of which, the restaurants could judge by visiting the cheesemaker.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:01 PM
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12 is interesting. Who knew that Urple was a socialist?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:01 PM
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And the local ones driving an inefficient box half full box truck use much more energy than farmers shipping long distances by rail or container ship.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:02 PM
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Once, while buying organic cheese curls

Original Tings? Good stuff.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:02 PM
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No. I don't recall the brand.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:04 PM
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19, 24: The local NPR talk show just did a program on fake meat as a way of saving the planet.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:04 PM
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34: Yeah, but they don't taste as good.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:05 PM
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I mean, all food is local to somewhere, right? Why does a farmer 50 miles away from me deserve my money more than one 500 miles away?

Aside from freshness, and environmental concerns, I'd think there's going to be a difference between producers which are set up to wholesale to people 500 miles away and ones which only sell locally.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:06 PM
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All the local food here is shit. The good stuff comes from California. Too bad, now that all the water there has dried up, that state is now a withered apocalyptic desert wasteland.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:06 PM
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Or so I hear.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:11 PM
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One helpful person at the WF meat counter told me that at that store, all the chicken was precisely the same, except that some had been certified organic and some not. Seems CR is doing something similar, which is great; sometimes organic matters, sometimes not.

We just joined a CSA. We'll see how that goes.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:12 PM
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Really? I didn't think flying the Stars and Bars was popular in your area.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:15 PM
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An organic CSA? Or no? My experience of CSAs has been that frankly, the non-organic ones produce a lot more luscious-looking produce, while the organic ones, not as much. People tend to become disenchanted with the organic ones therefore.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:18 PM
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all the chicken was precisely the same

Cloning!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:18 PM
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We get a "locally-grown" farm box delivered by a CSA-like thing, not a co-op. They seem like a pretty good all-around farm, not just "certified organic" which is largely bullshit. But they define "locally-grown" hilariously broadly to include the Imperial Valley region that will be a wasteland because Ad Nags and Ogged just can feel it in their bones that Palm Springs is wrong produces basically everyone else in the US's vegetables too.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:25 PM
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Organic.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:26 PM
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I've never cared much about longevity, but now I really want to live long enough to settle this argument. I think, keeping strict paleo, I might have another 90-100 years in me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:28 PM
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By the way, there was a quite sober discussion of the water crisis in California and the U.S. southwest on the Diane Rehm show this morning. Perhaps all of this has been discussed here previously -- I haven't been following the discussions here in a very assiduous manner -- but among the notable remarks were that California is a net importer of corn and other crops designed to feed animals. That its dairy industry is utterly, totally, unsuited to its normal environment.

Chiefly, really, that the drought currently taking place in California and the southwest has been going on since 1998 -- hence a roughly 15 year drought thus far -- and climate scientists consider the previous century's agricultural boom in Califiornia to have been an outlier. What might be termed the new normal in CA is actually the old normal.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:31 PM
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48: Paleo, plus castration.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:33 PM
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I think, keeping strict paleo, I might have another 90-100 years in me.

If you were strictly paleo, there is no way you'd make it that long due to the probability of saber-toothed tiger attack.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:34 PM
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local strawberries tasted a lot better than the ones shipped in from California.

California strawberries are notoriously flavorless. I grew up in Southern California and it was a revelation to me when I first tasted strawberries produced elsewhere.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:34 PM
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I would imagine that California strawberries obtained in California taste better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:35 PM
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climate scientists consider the previous century's agricultural boom in Califiornia to have been an outlier. What might be termed the new normal in CA is actually the old normal Thunderdome, basically.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:39 PM
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California is actually a shitty climate for strawberries. Sure, strawberries grow there, but good strawberries are those which come from plants that have suffered through cold winters.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:43 PM
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According to some guy at a vineyard, that's how it works with grapes. Or at least, if the grapes get nice and big and do so quickly, they don't make very good wine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:50 PM
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Yeah, our local strawberries are ass and the non-local ones are from Mexico and are equally or more ass. I don't know why you couldn't have mass strawberry production from eg depressed Western NY bit apparently you can't for some reason.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:53 PM
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Strawberries do tend to taste good in inverse proportion to their size, and California makes some huge strawberries. They should probably give up on that and grow more almonds.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 12:53 PM
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54: It's been years since I've seen Thunderdome, but I recall it as relative dustbowl; I'm not sure California was quite that bad in the past.

The point is that CA had never been so hydrologically, and therefore agriculturally, rich in the first place. We'll see what happens, I'm sure, but the point of the Rehm show's commentators was that the celebrated status of CA as principal provider of agricultural plenty has been the result of an abnormally wet past century.

Um, you guys should listen to that Rehm show. The panelists said any number of helpful things, about what we know from tree rings and coral; along with the excellent remark from one panelist that, as I recall "Economics is about managing scarcity; politics is about allocating resources."

ha.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:04 PM
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I once went to a wedding in Michigan held at my friend's grandmother's Welch's Grape farm, and it was the weirdest thing to taste grapes that tasted fake, the flavor of juice, instead of like grapes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:04 PM
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Strawberries do tend to taste good in inverse proportion to their size, and California makes some huge strawberries.

I suspect there is deliberate business strategy at work here. If the labor cost of picking represents X% of the price of strawberries wholesale ex farm, and the labor required to pick a strawberry is a linear function of the number of strawberries, and the number of strawberries required to fill a carton varies inversely with the cube of the radius of the strawberry*, there will be accelerating returns to growing the biggest ones you can.

The other well-known deficiency of California strawberries compared to local seasonal ones is that they are picked before they are ripe, which is also related to logistics costs (specifically, spoilage and damage).

* The packing density of irregular shapes can change in quirky ways with the size of the shapes, so I'm not claiming the function is really that simple


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:11 PM
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I'm going to invent a robot that scans strawberries for their shape and arranges them in the optimal order to ensure the highest possible density when packed in to a carton. That should be good for a few million in venture capital, right?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:23 PM
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61: I suspect there is deliberate business strategy at work here.

I, uh, suspect you are right. Were people under the impression that California strawberries were sucky because they just grew that way?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:23 PM
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Basically Tetris, but with strawberries.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:24 PM
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This was pretty interesting. The main culprits for taste-free strawberries seem to be that the smaller varieties are less hardy, more susceptible to disease, and have a shorter shelf life, making them much less profitable and predictable.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:29 PM
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Probably a lot of the same reasons store-bought tomatoes are bad.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:37 PM
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It's an upside down bell. When strawberries are in season wherever Costco sources them from, you get cartons with some enormous ones, almost the size of your hand, and those giants taste awesome. The medium ones are tasteless.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:41 PM
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I feel like it's been a thing to complain about cardboard tomatoes for the past twenty years...yet I can only purchase cardboard tomatoes at the grocery store. Even the organic ones are tasteless.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 1:54 PM
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The problem is that they're cardboard for a good reason -- you can't ship the ones that taste good easily. It's farmer's markets or supermarkets that source locally in season, or cardboard.

I find the little grape tomatoes taste better -- I figure the tiny size makes them sturdy enough to survive without being bred to taste like hell.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:03 PM
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Organic doesn't enter into it -- it's not how it's raised, it's what breed of tomato they're growing. You can hand-massage the breed of tomatoes they grow for supermarket sales, pour organic compost tea on the roots, and lovingly pluck individual pests from them with tweezers, and they'll still be pale pink and nasty (sounds like my relatives).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:05 PM
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I feel like people who complain about cardboard tomatoes haven't eaten very much cardboard. It has a very specific flavor!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:05 PM
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64

We just need to generalize those cubic watermelons they engineered in Japan a few years ago. You know, so they fit into your tiny Japanese fridge.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:09 PM
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Maybe I'll just invent a robot that organizes your fridge.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:11 PM
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68

Oh yeah, except for the heirlooms. I'll eat those straight. Unless it's for a sauce the others are pretty terrible.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:11 PM
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Or maybe - get this - an app where you use your phone to take a couple picture of your fridge and your groceries, and then it does some 3D modelling and tells you where to put everything. I'm totally going to write that after I build my social networking site for missing socks.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:13 PM
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||

Confidential to Moby: here's a cool Hobbit cob (cobbit?) house.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:14 PM
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Is that like Tinder for socks? Ooh, I like that argyle (swipe right).


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:15 PM
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The problem is that they're cardboard for a good reason -- you can't ship the ones that taste good easily. It's farmer's markets or supermarkets that source locally in season, or cardboard.

Exactly. Apart from the varieties, it's the difference between vine ripening and climacteric ripening with ethylene.

Also, off-season tomatoes from southerly latitudes simply don't get enough hours of sunlight in the day to achieve optimal flavor. A hothouse tomato can actually be superior to a naturally grown one in that respect.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:15 PM
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76: Thanks, but maybe a bit twee. I'm going for
something like the first house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:20 PM
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A hothouse tomato can actually be superior to a naturally grown one in that respect.

Somebody built a really big (over ten acres) greenhouse near where I was raised. I hear it is running well enough now, but its profitability required what might euphemistically be called "involuntary reduction in the cost of obtaining funds."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:23 PM
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Is that like Tinder for socks?

Not quite, although that's not a bad idea!

The basic premise of my network is that, if you loose a sock, you can put your remaining sock up on the network. Then magic algorithms will match you up with someone who has lost the other sock. So the two of you then get together, and one of you gets to make a pair of socks, and the other one gets some money or something. Basically, it allows people to monetize their laundry.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:24 PM
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As the piece linked in 65 suggests, the way out of the box is to try and use GMOs to create tomatoes and strawberries that are hardy enough for shipping and disease-free and also actually taste good. So long as the new strawberries/tomatoes are properly marketed (strawberries should be called "Traditional Alpine"; tomatoes should be "Farm To Table Reds") it should be fine.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:24 PM
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Yeah, our local strawberries are ass and the non-local ones are from Mexico and are equally or more ass

Dude, you need the ones from Santa Maria Valley/San Luis Obispo County. I don't know how well they travel but those grown there are seriously amazing. (England has great been-through-cold-weather-strawberries but I don't think they're any better than the ones I grew up with, despite being deservedly famous.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:28 PM
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23: I had no opinion about Driscoll's until I read a recent news article (that I can't find) where a Driscoll exec was saying that they were going all-in on groundwater management because the only thing worse than managing groundwater was going to be not-managing groundwater. That's exactly the way I think of it, so I very much enjoyed his quote. Now I will eat all their berries.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:51 PM
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Dirty Girl strawberries!!!! So good. Yrena for raspberries ollalaberries blackberries, but man do I miss Full Belly Farm, world's best raspberries. There is a super nice lady selling greenhouse tomatoes at the FB now that are *very* good. But once she's done there's a dull lull until the field grown ones arrive. The cherry tomato interregnum.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:53 PM
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Found it.

With first-ever state groundwater regulations signed last year and implementation looming, state agriculture and water officials are hoping Driscoll's will serve as an example for others. The company hopes to bring the basin into balance much sooner than 2040, as the state law requires (E&ENews PM, Sept. 16, 2014).

That doesn't mean they're looking forward to it.
"It's going to be a nightmare if the thing's successful; it's really going to be an awful experience," Reiter said, "only exceeded by the experience of not doing anything."

Posted by: Megan |
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What? Here.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:55 PM
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The cherry tomato interregnum.

Robert Ludlum's heirs don't know when to quit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:55 PM
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I just ate a Dirty Girl strawberry the size of a Chihuahua's head and it was DELICIOUS. Full on jam flavor.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 2:59 PM
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83: Yeah, I'm a bit amazed. My wife was amazed at California strawberries; back in Missouri, she soaked strawberries in sugar water. I do live in the central valley, so maybe we haven't gone all international shipping with our strawberry varieties yet...


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:01 PM
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Whatever. If you're not harvesting your strawberries from civet shit, you don't even know how a strawberry is supposed to taste.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:16 PM
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If you're not harvesting your strawberries from civet shit, you don't even know how a strawberry is supposed to taste.

Google "fraise des bois" and see how many paeans to wild strawberries you find from purported food experts. Those idiots think that because something is rare and expensive and sought after in Paris that they must be awesome, when in fact they are just a reminder of what a blessing domestication and selective breeding are.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:30 PM
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My friend's impression of strawberries in England was that they tasted like strawberry had candies. He'd never thought the taste was faithful to strawberries before, but now he'd found the reference strawberry for candies.

I find farmers' market strawberries to be hit or miss. I can't tell if they are going to be good by size or color. But I did find a vendor whose berries I like. Strawberries should have Laotian growers, I have determined.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:38 PM
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"I'm not particularly worried about the effects of pesticides on the consumer, but the environmental/worker effects seem to me to be significant."

AGREE ONE MILLION PERCENT, oh my god the horrors we thoughtlessly inflict on farmworkers and their families in the pursuit of cheap ass food.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:40 PM
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Look,I literally believe that the Ferry Building in San Francisco should be burned down and everyone who shops there put to death for the general good of humanity, but fraises des bois are pretty good and better than your standard US strawberry.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:42 PM
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95 to 92.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:45 PM
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see how many paeans to wild strawberries you find from purported food experts

They can soothe existential depression.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 3:47 PM
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Also, I use woods strawberries transplanted from a NW forest road as backyard underplanting and the berries are ambrosial. Too delicate to go much further than the back porch.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 4:01 PM
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83, 90: There's a Santa Cruz farm that does a good strawberry and the pickers get shade and Portapotties. I forget the name.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 4:08 PM
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Remember the UFW people? Agricultural field toilets are required by state law.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 4:23 PM
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I used to shop regularly at the Ferry Building farmer's market, until, first, a more-or-less tyrannical girlfriend made that very difficult, and then, second, I moved to Berkeley, which probably also falls under TRO's interdict.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 4:31 PM
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You may be thinking of Swanton, http://www.swantonberryfarm.com/. They are union.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 4:33 PM
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69 I find the little grape tomatoes taste better -- I figure the tiny size makes them sturdy enough to survive without being bred to taste like hell.

I feel like it's pretty generally true that smaller fruits taste better than big ones, all other things being equal. Not sure why.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 4:33 PM
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I don't know about grape tomatoes vs regular, but the vague theory I've heard is that fruits of the same breed produce roughly the same amount of metabolites and sugars regardless of size, so the smaller ones have more flavor and the larger ones tend to be a bit dull. This theory comes from a coworker who overwatered his garden a few years ago and got prodigious yet bland fruits and vegetables.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 5:25 PM
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I used to grow giant pumpkins. In theory you could use them to make giant pumpkin pies, but they wouldn't actually taste good.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 5:54 PM
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Frankly, they don't taste especially great if you start with a small pumpkin. The secret is to use a fruit that isn't actually squash.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:05 PM
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Like apple


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:10 PM
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Or cherry. Which can be improved by adding almond extract.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:15 PM
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Or you could bake hostess cherry pies into your scratch cherry pies


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:27 PM
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Each teaspoon of almond extract you use keeps a California family from washing their car for ten years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:31 PM
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A teaspoon a day makes palm springs blow away


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:36 PM
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Remember the UFW people? Agricultural field toilets are required by state law.

As I am sure I have said here before, I had a rude awakening some years back when I heard from a farmworker organizer in Oregon that they had fought long and hard for toilets in the fields...only to find that growers wouldn't allow the workers breaks to use them.

I swear, even if the violently clear humane reason to allow it doesn't persuade them, I cannot fathom why the literal, gross potential cost of e. coli on your food doesn't.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:48 PM
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The Upton Sinclair line.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 6:54 PM
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The Upton Sinclair line.

That's a very advanced PUA technique


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:05 PM
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I aimed at their hearts, and hit them in the pussy.


Posted by: PUA Upton Sinclair | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:16 PM
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I understand that happens from the training films


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:22 PM
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Woo... earthquake. Maybe 5 point something?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:26 PM
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Now I finally know where you live.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:31 PM
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5.4


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:34 PM
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118 -- 1) build earthquake ray 2) make earthquakes 3) discover commenters location


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:38 PM
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Apparently that time I said I could see Venezuela from my house, nobody believed me.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:45 PM
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I thought it was a euphemism I didn't get.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 7:46 PM
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For what its worth, Venezuela looks like some faint mountains in the distance.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 8:00 PM
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I believed you, Spike!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 8:05 PM
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We're farmer's market regulars—usually the Evanston one—and almost always prefer small fruits and vegetables, for the mentioned reasons.

This talk of Fraises des Bois reminds me of the first time I ever heard my dad speak French. Traveling through Quebec in the late fifties, two lane blacktop or gravel, I was sick and incontinent. He went with me into an apothecary in a small town and ordered an ancient remedy: L'extrait de Fraise Sauvage. I remember not liking it but maybe that was because I couldn't keep anything down. I was soon better for whatever reason.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-15-15 8:44 PM
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Thanks, teo!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 3:20 AM
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I have regular-size strawberries as underplantings and they were the first happy-looking plant after the winter and would take over the whole garden if I let them. Squirrels eat them in the vine and so do little children, but they produce through the whole summer. Wood strawberries grow wild in the yard but we aren't cool enough to eat them or the violets that are blooming now.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 3:57 AM
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Our strawberries come in two waves; an excellent spring and an okay fall. They take summers off.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:31 AM
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A few violet blossoms in a cup of boiling water are *so good*, Thorn. Fragrant, a strange Cherenkov shade of blue, and the draggled flowers are crunchy-sweet.

If you're buying strawberry plants you choose Junebearers or everbearers & some crosses.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 4:25 PM
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I just bought a half gallon of strawberries from the farmers market across the street from my office today. It's true that the enormous strawberries that they grow in Oxnard are not so great, but California does sometimes have some delicious strawberries. The ones sold by my vendor are small and intensely flavored, and incredibly delicious. He only has them for about two or three weeks a year.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 5:08 PM
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