> Michel and Grace,
> 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.
Sorry Dale, I disagree. This thread is not a good example and
represents a new low for Michele. She is often on target but lost touch
on this one - but we all have bad days (my apologies to you too Michele,
and I know you'll appreciate my candor), and that post was
embarrassingly out of touch - to the degree that my answer intentionally
avoided disagreeing with her. I instead tried to stress that in this
practical world we live in there are often trade offs. Want an
example? (Hopefully, no one will misunderstand). Abortion. Abortion
can't be good. But neither can unwanted children, uncared for children,
children living in poverty, abused children, or criminalizing a
difficult but PERHAPS the "lesser of available evils" choice made by a
woman who already has more responsibility than she can handle . Applied
to pineapple, this logic recognizes that:
It is true - pineapple that flowers naturally is best. No doubt about
it. What is NOT so clear is that pineapple that didn't flower naturally
therefore, shouldn't be grown; or that people who want to eat during
months it doesn't flower naturally are titillating themselves, or that
pineapple growers should all harvest together, with the devastating
economic consequences that this brings them. If we extend the logic
that all intervention is wrong, the conclusions are: Don't irrigate!
Don't fertilize! Let it all happen by itself (maybe that's how the
woman above became pregnant). The point is, where do you draw the
line? This is exactly what "organic certification" is all about, and I
think the same can be said for sanet: Borderline decisions have to be
made, and made constructively. Grace already wants to obligate organic
certification. Will she outlaw pineapple whose flowering was induced
next? How will she take this thread? will she take it to heart,
constructively? I hope so, and am sure that even Grace will eventually
learn humility and that she too will become a constructive influence,
just as they tried to teach her to do at Goddard, all along.
Sorry girls, but you posture really doesn't help - it's much too far
from the field and too entrenched in an ivory tower on the one hand and
bureaucratic arrogance on the other (Grace didn't even bother to reply
to my response to her letter to "The Economist" magazine). Dale did
what I didn't do - he took their posts on this issue seriously. I
expect better from Misha and am sure next time she'll be back on
target. I mean this constructively and expect the same from all sides.
And I'm happy to say that I now find Dale's contributions to be
uniformly well thought out and constructive, which wasn't always the
case, some time ago. And that's what counts - moving in the right
direction - great things could come from this whole forum, if the
disposition to collaborate is there and applied to the real world.
To me, the bottom line is, biological systems provide sustenance and
sustainability. Understanding and respecting that is a good basis for
any biological endeavor such as farming - and being a human being. When
we look for ways to extend the envelope in specific ways, I thinks it's
important to share any pertinent information or perspective
constructively related to it. In short, Michele blew it but so what -
let's let her reset her own compass and get on with it.
BTW, I want to thank Dale publicly for the constructive and insightful
suggestions he provided privately in relation to the stated problem: How
to induce flowering in pineapple, without resorting to the use synthetic
substances. To me it goes without saying (but here I'll say it), that
if the plant isn't really ready, it's not going to flower anyway - and
in fact, that's just how it is. Induced flowering fails when conditions
aren't favorable. Perhaps there's just as much hubris present in
"returning the pineapple to its status as a seasonal fruit" as in
extending the seasonal envelope using (admittedly) only relatively
Also BTW: These posts evidently get around - from Hawaii (and the U. of
H.) came anecdotal info re the use of ripe pineapple chucks to induce
flowering in years past. I don't eat artificially ripened bananas, but
I do sometimes put a few ripe ones in with green bananas during cold
weather, in a cardboard box lined with newspaper. I also don't cut
bunches of green bananas, I wait until at least one banana is getting
yellow before cutting the bunch, and I don't ship pineapple that was cut
green or artificially field ripened. (In other words, to me - induced
flowering is a necessary evil, but I won't tolerate induced ripening,
even in pineapple that isn't organically grown. I've tried it and found
that the quality takes a BIG hit and therefore I felt justified in
following my instinct and have insisted on natural field ripening. Do
you think the big three do that? No - not even on the "jet fresh"
fruit. I have also thought: "Anyone who really cares about eating ripe
pineapple should live where it grows, grow it himself and pick it
ripe". I have also thought "Isn't that a bit selfish and unfair"? And
> Michele wrote:
> The whole agricultural system (incl. permaculture) human management
> through and through.
Michele, when it's done right that's called husbandry.
Dale's point is valid - agriculture represents a series of choices
carried out by human beings that tend to favor certain qualities over
others - like plants that bear fruit over those that don't, or fruit
with certain characteristics over others. These choices represent the
values held by those that made them. I myself do not agree with all of
them. For one thing, I spit out seeds. Meaning, I do not buy or eat
seedless grapes or grapefruit. Some pineapples have seeds, but
commercial varieties are propagated vegetatively and have few or none.
But since they're monocotyledons, and there is no grafting involved
(which is a damn sight worse), we look the other way on that for now.
In short: What we need are guidelines that are helpful when choices
must be made. That's what agriculture and this forum are about. We
masculine people - and quite a few females, make decisions and get into
things. Get it? Let's all try to make intelligent ones. Nothing more
> > 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
> > seasons.
> 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
> and autonomy.
> 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?
> Dale Wilson
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