Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Friday, June 24, 2011

GMO food, Organic Food, Ethically killed food, and the human condition….

"The surprising thing about young fools is how many survive to become old fools." -- Doug Larson

This thought recently occurred to me: Does it make any sense at all for any person who wants to sell me something to knowingly offer me something that, in the long or short run, is going to cause me serious harm? I mean, if I was in the business of producing anything that I wanted people to buy, wouldn't I run out of customers if I deliberately killed them all? So, where do these ideas of Monsanto as an evil-empire-set-on-killing-us-all-with-their-genetically-modified-foods originate? The same applies to the ideas of a cattle or chicken rancher administering various antibiotics to animals raised for food, or other medications/chemicals designed to ensure their health and fast growth. If that is so harmful to the humans who consume these animals, wouldn't he, the rancher, soon run out of customers?

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like I keep running into very vocal people who insist that they will only eat "organic" food, and that the meat they eat must have been dealt with "ethically," whatever that means. I mean, obviously, it is OK with these people that somebody else killed the chicken or the pig or the cow that they eat, but the killing must have been done 'humanely.' Give me a break. I can accept the idea of religious philosophies directing how food is raised, killed, or prepared, because believe it or not, many of those ideas have some ancient basis in reason. As a for instance, pork is indeed very deadly, if not raised carefully, and cooked thoroughly, so it makes sense for a religious leader to just say, "Hey! Don't eat that pig. It'll kill you!"

But, to try to tell me that the chicken that laid my morning egg has to be maintained in such and such a fashion, or that the meat on my plate had to come from a contented cow, raised only eating specific foods, not given certain types of medicine or supplements (all the while, relying on all kinds of phony supplements oneself) is just a bit too hypocritical for me.

I especially am put off by people who say such stupid things as "I want to eat the same things that my grandparents ate." They really don't seem to grasp a few basic facts of life, or of history, for that matter. Our grandparents did indeed seem to eat a lot more than we do, and everyone has seen Hollywood versions, and maybe even read written versions of stories that depict the family sitting down to a breakfast where there are platters heaped with fried eggs, huge, thick slices of fried ham, huge hot biscuits dripping with real butter (not to mention ham gravy), and all kinds of side dishes.

What we tend to overlook, however, are two very important differences between those folks, and us folks. One, they tended to live a shorter life than we do/will, and they went out and worked their butts off after consuming that huge meal. They did not go sit at a desk all day, peering at a computer screen. No, they went out and pitched hay, mended or built fences, tended to livestock of every stripe, built barns, planted crops, weeded crops, dug irrigations ditches by hand, and cut down monster trees with hand saws, and so on.

So, unless you're prepared to go out and work off a huge meal, don't try to emulate your grandparents by eating such meals. But, to get back to the idea that it is wrong to 'genetically modify' our food, or to infer that Monsanto and others are out to poison us is just plain absurd. For one thing, nobody complains when they see the development of hybrids (see Burpee seeds), or the result of years of selective breeding. What do you suppose those are if not genetic modification, of a simpler variety?

While I do think it is kind of crappy for Monsanto, or whoever, to have developed so many varieties of plants that cannot be reproduced (thus forcing the grower to go back to them for next year's crop), at the same time, I have to admire the fact that they did develop such a thing. That's truly ingenious. And, hey, isn't that really the result of the demands from consumers for things like seedless watermelon, or seedless grapes? And, let's not totally overlook the fact that those seeds generally have built in – as the result of years of research on the part of Monsanto, or whoever – a better resistance to certain outside influences that might threaten a crop.

All the farmer has to do is seek another source for his seed corn, or whatever. At the same time he can go back to what his ancestors did, and simply hold out a portion of this year's crop as seed for next year's crop. All of that having been said, we, as consumers, need to keep in mind that we are at least partly responsible for these developments. We all want more and more quantity of wheat, corn, veggies, or whatever foodstuffs are grown, for less and less effort or money. We demand it. Because of these demands, the family farmer is long gone. What we have now is the corporate farm, which has grown out of our ever increasing demands. What we have now are much larger crops coming from larger fields and farms, and using anything that will grow faster, healthier, and cheaper.

If the end result is a minority of people who turn their noses up at the produce of the American farm, then let them eat cake.

Now, I will freely admit that there does appear to be a very small minority of people who – for whatever reasons – cannot tolerate some of the additives found in either the hybrids, or genetically modified seeds, or even some of the things given to food animals during their raising. Those people, in another time, another place, likely would not have survived early infancy, or childhood because they would have succumbed to any one of a multitude of things that used to kill kids. But, thanks in large part to the same science that has given us genetically modified foods, and hybrids, they now do survive infancy only to then fall very ill with conditions like celiac disease and other food sensitivities. There are a number of options for those thus affected, most of which do involve the avoidance of foods that the majority of people can and do eat.

But, ultimately, since those with these problems are such a tiny minority, it is not logical, reasonable, or at all realistic for the majority of people to have to give up anything in order to handle these problems. So, when folks start crying about the food producers are evil because they have modified our food, they need to remember another thing about cake…………they say that you cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What’s with all the do-gooders always crying about cruelty to animals, anyway?

There are too many people, and too few human beings. - Robert Zend

I keep stumbling into these pitiful cries for assistance, all over the ‘net:
“Help stop pet abuse” – “Please save Beto (or, Paco, or Spot, or whoever)” -
“My Tico neighbors leave their dogs tied up in the back yard all week…..” and like that.  Oh, and, then there is evidently a monthly ‘election’ to see what animal shelter (operated by more do-gooders) gets a donation, right here in Costa Rica (take a look at CRL).
And, I have a short message for the people who seem to obsess over the fate of various dumb animals:  Hey!  Get a life!  We have so many other important things to worry about in this small, little, teeny, tiny corner of the world………..if y’all have the time and the resources to waste on someone else’s pets, or worse, on strays, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your life.
It is not bad enough that some folks waste their time worrying over things like the evil machinations of Monsanto, or the importance of Organic Food (and only Organic Food), or the pressing need for food supplements, or the questionable efficacy of homeopathic medicine (is that an oxymoron, or something?).  No, they also have to get themselves all worked up over the status of domestic animals…….or, in Costa Rica, non-domesticated animals.  It is actually funny to listen to some gringos go on and on about how animal abuse is so bad.  But, they lack all understanding of certain facts of life.
This is Costa Rica.  They have different laws.  They have different traditions.  They have a different culture.  They have a different language.  And, hey!  Guess what?  It is their country!  So, along with all of those differences, here’s another heads up for ya:  They have a very different attitude towards pets!  For one thing, their word for a pet is ‘mascota.’  And, that translates directly as ‘mascot.’  Look it up!  (Oh, well, here you go:  “A person, animal, or object believed to bring good luck, especially one kept as the symbol of an organization such as a sports team”).  Now, that is not quite the same idea that comes to mind, in English, when talking about the family dog, is it?
So, let’s get to the point of this little rant.  Gringos who go around declaiming and decrying the abuse of animals here are seen as meddlers, ‘Metiches.’  Now, here in CR they may say instead ‘entromedio’’ because metiche is not really a Spanish word, but comes from one of the many Indian dialects that are native to the Americas.  But, basically the idea remains: a nosy person, one who is butting in where they are not only not welcome, but not needed.
I have to wonder about people who can find so much time to devote to the welfare of animals.  I suppose it is a very altruistic thing to do, and I’m sure the animals appreciate it, but it just seems to me that with all the trouble in this world between people, and all the things that people do to each other, maybe, just maybe y’all could spend a bit of time trying to help your fellow man.  At least maybe find ways to prevent human abuse.  How about all the little kids that are hungry?  Maybe some time could be found for the ones who lack decent clothing.  What about the ones who are denied an education? 
And, here’s another surprise for you.  You do not have to go any great distance to find kids that need your help.  They are right there, next door, down the street, or on the next block.  And, by the way…………….?  That statement applies equally back in the States as it does here in Costa Rica.