The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Little Pro-Life Vignette or "Pro-Farmer, Pro-Life"

So I was at this trendy little natural foods store where everything was "organic" (brief aside: I really hate this term. It simply means composed of molecules including carbon. For crying out loud, gasoline is organic (octane compound) that doesn't make it safe to eat. I'm sort of a reductionist at times and I want to whip out a periodic table of the elements and say, "Look, this is all there is to the physical world: it's all made of this stuff. All but the last few are naturally occurring. Some combinations are good and some are bad, but all are natural and many bad ones are organic. Deal with it!" But I usually don't say that. There is a noun "organic" which designates fertilizer derived from animal or vegetable matter. But they don't say it's "fertilized with organic," they just wantonly use the adjective. According to the Oxford English dictionary the first use of the term in this way was in 1942 "Organic Farming & Gardening I. 3/2 Compost fertilizer is a purely organic material as distinguished from mineral fertilizers (chemicals) 1952 C. E. L. PHILLIPS Small Garden iii. 18 Compared with the chemical fertilizers, the organic ones are slow in action but enduring in effect. Ibid. 19 Of other forms of organic manure, the following are valuable. 1960 Times 27 Feb. 9/2 A good organic-based general fertilizer. 1975 D. GREEN Food & Drink from your Garden v. 38 There is probably something in the theory that vegetables have their quality improved by the use of organic fertilizers". So as you can tell this neologism was ill-conceived from its beginning, not the alleged identity between "mineral" and "chemical". Yes, "organic" fertilizers have chemicals--substance with a distinct molecular composition--which makes them "inorganic" according to this mixed-up nomenclature. It's probably better if we didn't use words so that it's so easy to contradict oneself, you think? (Yes, I'm a language enforcer, but someone has to be in this day and age). /end of digression.
So any way there I was and I must say we looked and acted the part. I had ridden in on my bike, pulling a trailer with two sandal-clad, overall-short wearing little girls in long red braids. I'd come after some very specific items, so it was clear I knew the "organic" food market. After a while, in walks this upper-middle aged Boomer obviously of the upper-middle class and she says, "Now don't forget we all need to get out and vote for Bob Holden." "Sorry," I said, "can't do it." She looked shocked, almost offended. "Well, why not, what's the matter." "I can't support a candidate who supports abortion, he's just out of the running for me. I'm pro-farmer and pro-life." The sort of looked like I'd just told them that Jesus Christ was my personal Lord and Saviour--you know, "well isn't that nice"--and quickly dispersed. During this brief exchange one of the actual Local Farmers had been delading his cargo of organic potatoes, the gnarled tubers rolling out of his milk crates into the sale bins. When I had purchased my Red-Hot Blue Cornchips and my Habenero X-treme jelly and was putting it in the bike trailer, the old dude came up to me and cleared his throat. I turned around to find him standing behind me shifting in his round-toed cowboy boots. "I just wanted to tell you that I agreed with what you said in there." "Thanks," I said, "I appreciate that." "Well, I'd better be going," and he shuffled off. I don't know if anything substantive will ever come of this, but I know it caused a few aged wood-hippies to pause to think for a bid and it encouraged an old farmer. That's good enough for me. I'm glad I spoke up (without starting an argument).


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