Our Passions of Food special topical day was a great success as far as reader response, traffic, incoming links, comments on posts, discussions on social networks, and....it kinda continues ;-)
First, Jason Mark wrote a response to Christie Wilcox's post - Myths: Busted - Clearing Up the Misunderstandings about Organic Farming.
Then Christie Wilcox wrote a response to Jason Mark (and other critics) - In the immortal words of Tom Petty: “I won’t back down”
If the phrase was not already ruined by an un-named quasi-news organization, I'd say "We report, you decide". But is it really just "he said, she said"? Read and let them know in the comments.
<2c>My two cents? Words matter. Words have different meanings depending on who uses them - their geography, background, research tradition (if in science), context, etc. Scientists and non-scientists use the word "theory" very differently. Physicists and Biologists use the word "law" very differently (and certainly much differently from lawyers, or politicians). Evolutionary Biologists and Evolutionary Psychologists have all sorts of subtle differences in which they use terms like 'evolution', 'selection', 'adaptation', 'heredity', 'trait', 'genetic' etc. I argued before that journalists and non-journalists use the word "story" very differently.
Likewise, different people mean different things when they say "organic" when discussing food.
A small farmer, perhaps due to habit or tradition, may think of himself as an "organic" farmer. But everyone else - the consumers - use it in a very different way: "organic" is whatever USDA labels as "organic" as that is important for their choices at the grocery store.
So, when a consumer goes to the Farmer's Market, the word "organic" is not what they are thinking, but rather "local" - they can ask exactly how the food was produced as the farmer is standing right there. When they say "organic" they mean "labeled as such at Whole Foods" - which is not local but industrial organic.
So when someone critiques "organic" (and in case of Christie are very explicit about meaning "USDA Organic"-labeled), they critique the industrial organic, not the small local farmers. But as small local farmers think of themselves as "organic" producers, they take umbrage, erroneously think they are the target of the criticism, and get all up in arms to defend...not themselves but the big industrial farms that managed to get the "organic" label, thus confusing everyone involved.
But just read all of the "Passions of Food" posts for a variety of angles on the topic.</2c>
Apart from the food fight, there was quite a lot of other good stuff on the network over the weekend and today - so check the posts all out:
- John R. Platt - Dugong Deaths Way up Down Under
- Christina Agapakis - Worms Expanded
- Bora Zivkovic - BIO101 - Cell Structure
- Joanne Manaster - Children’s Science Video Contests
- Jason G. Goldman - Sunday Photoblogging: Pisa, Italy and Century City, CA
- Krystal D'Costa - Scent of a Woman
- Kelly Oakes - Oxygen might be hiding behind grains of cosmic dust
- Lucas Brouwers - Where does milk come from?
- Ingrid Wickelgren - Money Can Buy Isolation
- Charles Q. Choi - A Modest Proposal: Transparent Tablets
- Kevin Zelnio - Evolution’s Tempo, Movement I: Adagio
- Elizabeth Iorns - How outsourcing will transform scientific research
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