Thursday, September 02, 2004

I'd pass, if I could - Residential dining goes organic: "Using more sustainable food benefits the local community, Shannon-DiPietro said, by employing people and maintaining farmlands. She cited the example of New Haven-based Palmieri Food Products, which received the contract to provide organic tomato sauce to Yale's kitchens.
'A year ago, [the company] was laying off people,' Shannon-DiPietro said. 'This means [it] won't be doing that this year.'"

Let's be clear from the start: I have no objection to organic food, or to people who choose to eat it over the inorganic (?) variety. My overall objection is to situations like those in sub-saharan Africa, where leaders of poor countries have been scared by environmental groups into refusing genetically modified foods that could save millions of people from death by starvation.

In this particular case, I have two objections which, as a member of the Yale community, I feel obliged to express.
1)I have no option to abstain from organic foods.
2)The idea that we are saving jobs by switching to a local distribution company is absurd.

Let's take them in order. The reasoning behind making Berkeley's dining hall food organic was so that students who, for political, or moral, or health reasons, wanted that alternative. It was about protecting a minority from the majority, and offering choice. I am all for that idea. The problem now is that we switched to enforcing the will of the minority on the majority. I don't necessarily want to eat organic food, and my ability to abstain has now been removed. Why is it that people who've decided organic food is better are suddenly more important than those of us who don't buy into it? And don't fool yourself, that's exactly what this is: a valuing of their opinions over mine.

As far as saving jobs: BS. By switching to a local company that ordinary market forces were pushing out of business due to a lack of demand, we have merely moved our capital from one investment to another. What of the company who used to supply our food? Without our money, what will come of the jobs that were sustained by it? Additionally, now that Yale is spending more on its food, we are taking money from other places as well. Perhaps the development money used this year to fund the organic food investment could have been used for physical plant, or construction projects that also would have created jobs. And when the cost is passed on to students and their families in the years to come (which, believe me, will happen), what of the things they would have spent that money on? What I'm saying is that transfering funds from one location to another does not create jobs.

End rant.

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