Something has been bothering me for a couple weeks, about the relationship
between free markets and sustainability. This thread on pineapple is a good
example to talk about it.
> Welllllll. Perhaps aligning our tastes and demands with what the
> plant can provide would be reasonable. And returning the pineapple to
> its status as a seasonal fruit.
All our crop plants have been highly manipulated to produce products that we
like to eat. And not only the cultivar, but the whole system. The whole
agricultural system (incl. permaculture) is laced with human management
through and through. It seems like the logical conclusion of your
quietistic line of reasoning would be foraging in wild lands and nothing
> I.e., letting consumer demand and markets (another form of exclusive
> focus on profits) drive everything is a short-sighted strategy.
I would venture that the driver is simply the desire for pineapple. I don't
think the desire for nice fruit is a product of culture.
> It seems to me that one of the lessons of organic production should
> be to return consumers to some realism about where food comes from,
> rather than trying to provide them with all the luxuries to which
> they have become accustomed...
So, "organic" production is going to deliver the natural law commandments?
Are you going to be the prophet?
> ...in the industrial food system.
Suppose I devise a practical, harmless method to induce flowering in
pineapple (this was done long ago, BTW). Does that make me part of the
"industrial food system"? Who are you to tell me or my customers that we
shouldn't eat pineapple outside of the (non-human-manipulated) season? Why
is this so political? (puritanical?)
Your vision of natural law fails to accomodate human creativity.
> I don't see how we in sustag/orgag can compete with the
> industrial food system in terms of titillating people's
> consumer desires, then providing products for that.
A fully ripe fresh pineapple will titillate almost anyones consumer desire,
and THAT'S OKAY!
> But I do think that we can help give them what they really
> need and want. Like healthy food and reconnection with the
So I guess you are volunteering to be prophet and teacher to tell us what we
should want. Doggone it, I just want pineapple!
Misha, I am not trying to ridicule you, but to whittle down to the real
issues. The more I look at your words the more I think these are freedom
Suppose I want to start a company and enter the capitalist realm. This is
risky and difficult, but let's say I am hugely successful, and I produce new
varieties of melon that people really like. Or I write brilliant and useful
computer programs, or learn to produce organic pineapple out of season.
What is wrong with my profiting from this?
Grace wrote privately:
> What consumers want is not a law of nature, but is a product of
> intense manipulation. When the demands of the market run counter
> to ecological and health demands, something is wrong.
My hypothetical products are examples, not of fighting nature, or violating
natural law, but of learning to navigate the intricacies of natural systems.
In the case of pineapple, it is a matter of manipulating floral induction
using naturally occuring hormones. It is not as ecologically pervasive a
manipulation as the pineapple production system itself. Sure, all these
things should be evaluated for safety, but that is apparently not the issue
you take with the practice of treating pineapples with ethylene.
Why should I adhere to your interpretation of natural law?
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