Environmental scientist Jennifer Jacquet poses they question, "Are You an Eco-Douchebag? The test is simple: read this sign ["Dear customers: Please be advised that our Bread Slicer is used for both Organic and Conventional items"] (recently photographed at my local Vancouver market, which is owned by Whole Foods) then gauge your response..."

Now, I'm inclined to believe that pesticide-free food production has health benefits and is good for the planet, but likewise: it is the major crazy to believe that pesticides leap from the bread-slicer wires into your wholesome organic loaf.

Are You an Eco-Douchebag?

153 Responses to “Crazy organic bread-slicer sign for crazy organic bread eaters”

  1. Moriarty says:

    I think the only reasonable reading of ‘pesticide aisle’ is “the aisle where they sell pesticides.”

    I also just assumed the gagging woman had psychological problems. While I agree that ‘pesticide aisle’ could only reasonably refer to the aisle where they sell pesticides, we’re not necessarily talking about reasonable people. Republicans call estate taxes “death taxes,” PETA calls fish “sea kittens,” an aquaintance of mine calls everyone who isn’t an anarchocapitalist a “statist collaborator,” so maybe to some people, the place where the “unclean” food is sold is the “pesticide aisle.”

  2. coldspell says:

    Why are you guys assuming this sign is to warn consumers of organic bread? Perhaps this sign is to warn “conventional consumers” that some organic douchebaggery might contaminate their sandwich.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I got a tour of an organic winery awhile ago. The grapes were grown on site, and had to be organic, of course. To ensure this, the field workers were not allowed to take water with them into the fields, because, while taking a drink after working for hours in the blazing sun, they might spill a drop. And that drop, be it enviro-friendly city tap water or bottled imported from Fiji, would contaminate the entire field, causing it to be *not organic*. Craziness. (And don’t get me started on this place’s pyramids…)

  4. coaxial says:

    ZOMG! It’s not eco-kosher! Quick! Bury it in the compost pile for a year!

  5. c0nn0r says:

    Stuff like THIS is the new popped collar.

  6. Brad S. says:

    I’m surprised it took ’til @26 to finally get to the point, which is that the QAI standards for Organic certification require this kind of crazy signage behind the scenes. That it’s being shared with the public is evidence of either an overzealous inspector or an overzealous manager.

    I’d be more concerned about the organic bread bits that never get cleaned off that slicer. Perhaps they’re doing their customers a service by spreading around some preservatives and pesticides to kill all the miold piling up inside that machine. It adds a new definition to “Whole Foods.”

    @55, your snarkiness doesn’t hide the fact that after working on a pesticide-free farm for 10 years, you are somehow still oblivious to the basics of Organic certification. Unless your farm is not interested in certification – and why wouldn’t they be, since they are already spending all that money and time to be so close? – you would know the basics about quarantine requirements.

  7. Xopher says:

    I didn’t think my response was snarky. But I can see how you’d read it that way if you read ‘pesticide aisle’ as you propose it might have been read. That interpretation did not occur to me. I thought Anon. 95 was (falsely) claiming they don’t sell pesticides in the grocery store, then going off on an irrelevant tangent.

    While I disagree that “the statement’s use as a derogatory label becomes more likely than its factually correct application,” I can now see how it might have been read that way by a reasonable person.

  8. Takuan says:

    only to humans.

  9. Anonymous says:

    In earlier days, this would be a valid point. But now food, including breads, is so heavily processed that retail bread could have some ingredients in it that might affect those with food sensitivities/allergies. I know that I would think twice about buying something off this slicer if it had been slicing something with cheese/milk in it.

  10. CookieMonster says:

    @ Robulus

    By “genetic modification” do you mean cross breeding or genetically engineered? The twenty years of peer-reviewed studies analyzed in in the report “Failure to Yield” found no yield increase in GE herbicide resistant corn or soybeans, and although Bt corn did have yield increased of between 0.2-0.3% a year that is significantly less than the average 1% a year gains of conventional corn.

    If you are worried about the limited amount of arable land in the world, smaller farms that don’t mono-crop are showing the highest yields per unit of area.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What really boggles me is who the hell still eats bread with its proven track record for being horrible for your health?

    If you want to be eco/health legit snob, drop the bread all together – organic or pesticide, it still messes with your GI in an unfavorable fashion.

    PALEO is the new popped collar and damn it looks (feels) good!

  12. Beelzebuddy says:

    Okay, Moriarty’s examples are way better.

    “Sea kittens?” Really? That’s almost as narmtastic (synonym for those unfamiliar with the tubes: bathos) as their cooking mama parody: http://www.peta.org/cooking-mama/index.asp

  13. jimbuck says:

    Attention: The ocean this beach is on is used by people who do not eating a 100% organic diet. Swim at your own risk.

  14. Rob says:

    @52:

    Actually, it’s very unlikely, bordering on 0. Water gets created and destroyed all the time.

  15. Snig says:

    @52
    The finer establishments serve water harvested from comets to reduce the chance of such potentialiaties.

  16. Ambiguity says:

    The rules of Kosher are not really the point. The point is that by living by specific, set rules, ones you have decided on, you are keeping God in the front of your mind.

    At the expense of your waiter, at which you just threw a plate and screamed at.

    And I think that’s really the point that makes so many people angry about such behavior. Doing stuff like that in the name of religion is, frankly, what give religion such an unpalatable, inorganic taste to many people.

  17. Chuck says:

    Dear Customers:

    Please be advised that the wheat used to make this bread may not have been completely cleared of Thetans.

    – The Management

  18. Xopher says:

    I see your point, Moriarty and Beelzebuddy. But since Tekna2007 also addressed an earlier post in this thread to “eco-douche homeopaths,” I think my reading is the correct one. Unless, of course, s/he thinks hir ex was also an eco-douche homeopath, but it sure doesn’t sound that way to me.

    And btw I share your detestation of PETA. I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 30 years, and the only thing that seriously tempts me to eat meat these days is PETA. They make me want to bite the head off a live “sea-kitten” in front of them.

  19. kahomono says:

    And yet this directly echoes what Kosher consumers expect, and we’re all “respectful” of THAT insanity because it’s based on religion…?

    (Aside to #4: Please check YES on this question and move along)

  20. grimshaw says:

    @ 26 and @58 – Since the sign is in a Canadian store, I don’t think the same regulations would apply, but even so how does the sign remove any liability? If using the same bread machine for organic and non-organic bread would warrant regulators to require the sign, wouldn’t it essentially mean that the bread is no longer certifiably organic, meaning the sign itself is an admission that they are in violation by calling it organic?

  21. Anonymous says:

    oh, man, that’s too funny… when I saw the sign I thought “ha! that must be in Vancouver!”… then I paged down and saw that it was indeed at a Vancouver market. Vancouver is so… correct. .

  22. Xopher says:

    Guaranteed troll-bait: “Religion as spiritual pesticide: discuss.”

  23. Snig says:

    @61
    Define destroyed. You’re saying that if you strip the hydrogens off, incorporate the oxygen in another substrate for a millenia or so and then the oxygen somehow obtains two more hydrogen and re-enters the hydrosphere, then it’s somehow magically ok to drink dinosaur pee? Ew. Would you serve it to your mother?

  24. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    Just to clarify at this late stage.

    Yes, he THREW the plate at me. He did not politely send the dish back to be remade.

    But my main point was that, even if there had not been shrimps *on* the plate, his steak would not have been Kosher. He was a hypocrite. Kosher law has all kinds of rules for preparation, use of pans, slaughtering of animals, blessing stuff, etc. etc.

    To go to a non-Kosher shrimp-serving restaurant and then throw something at (me) because there was a damned non-Kosher shrimp involved in the plating of your meal, and to then say that I had tried to screw up your Kosherness is wrong. He screwed up his Kosher practice just by ordering food at a non-Kosher restaurant.

    Let me also clarify that this was Miami Beach and there were many many Kosher restaurants he could have gone to. And they were good because I often ate at them myself.

    It’s like “House” says “Do it all, do nothing, or you’re a hypocrite.”

    And just for the record, I hate all religious crap, and even “spiritual” crap. I don’t care if you are Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, New Age, Hindu, Muslim, or a white middle-aged MD’s wife who thinks she can channel the Spirit of Geronimo, etc. if you have some kind of belief that causes you to scream and throw things at me, I will feel perfectly just in reporting on your bad behavior here.

  25. ackpht says:

    Given the general prevalence of douchebaggery in the population, it is bound to assume many forms.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Or in Engrish:

    Dear Customer,
    Please am advised that our bread slicer are used for both organic too conventional items.
    Thank you

  27. TEKNA2007 says:

    For the eco-douche homeopaths:

    Dear Customers,

    Please be advised that we are using the same sink and dishwater to wash the knives that spread your yaks-milk eco-butter as the knives that we use for Conventional sandwich spreads. Note that we make every effort to wash the knives from organic spreads first, so that in the event that the water acquires the properties of the spread through homeopathic means, Organic properties are transferred to the Conventional knives, and not the other way around. Thank you for your indulgence; it is reciprocated.

    – The Management

  28. Anonymous says:

    “I used to date someone who was so sensitive to pesticides, she literally could not walk down the pesticide aisle at the grocery store. She would gag and reel (if she tried to make it all the way from one end to the other, instead of just turning away).”

    Huh, I never noticed the pesticide aisle in my local supermarket! Seriously though, your former girlfriend VERY LIKELY needs professional help in overcoming obsessive compulsive disorder. This is not meant as mockery. The concentrations of pesticide residue IN THE AIR around potentially treated vegetables in a store is a literal absurdism, we’re talking like, a few individual molecules per m^3 here. Her reaction is obviously purely psychological. Hopefully she gets the help she needs.

  29. Ambiguity says:

    I agree with #114 that the allergy thing is a bit of a red herring. People can be affected by cross contamination of allergens, but this is about inorganic (?) food, not allergen-containing food.

    If someone is that allergic, I can’t see where they would have their bread sliced, even if the slicers were kept separate. That wholly organic loaf of peanut/mozzarella bread is just a chocked full of allergens as an inorganic loaf.

  30. Piers W says:

    #81 Anonymous

    “point of fact: It takes 3 years to transition a field from conventional to organic.”

    This reminds me of the medieval argument about what happened if a rat ate a consecrated host.

    All the stuff living in the field one day before the allotted three years is presumably still ‘inorganic’, so what happens to it during the night, and how do you stop it contaminating the organic seeds you’re about to sow?

    Or does it transubstantiate, due to the ‘fact’ of the three year period?

  31. apoxia says:

    I am officially not an Eco-Douchebag, but I’m sure many people I know would think that I am.

  32. Antonio Lopez says:

    OK, fair enough, but doesn’t it trouble anyone that “conventional” means spraying poison on our food? My grandmother grew up on an “organic” farm– but the term organic was never used. It was the “conventional” wisdom and how people practiced farming. Pesticides were introduced by the chemical weapons industry after WWII to dump its surplus weapons. The fact that we can call this “conventional” and not think twice about it shows how deeply insane our food system is. How’s that for being a douche-bag!

  33. EH says:

    Wait, #4, bread is *bad* for you?

  34. Anonymous says:

    I worked at a Whole Foods Market for a while and there is no limit to the insanity of some of the customers. We had one lady who wouldn’t let us scan any of her items at the register because she didn’t want the lasers affecting her food. We had to cover the scanner with cardboard and manually type in all of her purchases. I wanted to tell her that every single one of those items had already been scanned during shipping and stocking multiple times, but she seemed truly paranoid.

  35. batu b says:

    Kosher (and Halal) seem quite picky from the outside, but for what they appear to lack in “rationality,” those modes are relying on human history and culture. It has, over time, affected families, literature, and governments.
    This sign’s lack of rationality seems a result of pandering, fad, and a touch of prudish fear. It has, over time, inspired snarky commentary on websites, eye-rolling, and massaged the delicate sensibilities of those dressed in hemp.
    In conclusion, regardless of the value judgement, I think any comparison is unreasonable and poorly thought out.

  36. Cicada says:

    “What really boggles me is who the hell still eats bread with its proven track record for being horrible for your health?”

    The French? Average life expectancy 81 years. Ninth highest in the world.
    Can’t be all _that_ bad for you, those baguettes and croissants and pastries…

  37. DWittSF says:

    Regarding tfa, the solution is easy: If this is a big deal to you, then you should be carrying your own utensils.

    Regarding #53 and #58, you are mistaking industrial standards as standing for all farms. Yes, it is true that the large agribusiness concerns have made some hash and called it organic, however, it’s a mistake to lay this off on all farmers. Here in Norcal, there are plenty of small ‘real’ organic farms, that are not the same as the big ag ‘organic’ farms in the Central Valley.

    #58, there are indeed farmers who farm organically but who also eschew industry organic standards as not being good enough. Smart food buyers are aware of these distinctions.

  38. Itsumishi says:

    I know that I would think twice about buying something off this slicer if it had been slicing something with cheese/milk in it.

    It’s a breadslicer! How thick would that slab of cheese be?

    One thing that does piss me off when talking about organic foods and alternative processing methods is the fact that it’s always referred to as organic and conventional or organic and traditional.

    When did processing everything and covering them in pesticides, etc become the ‘conventional’ or ‘traditional’ method? Surely the move towards organic food is simply a move back to conventional and traditional methods?!

  39. Snig says:

    The sign is fairly silly. Agricultural run-off is not so silly, and organic farming reduces some of the toxicity of agricultural run-off.

    Stuff like this worries me:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_zone_(ecology)

    and I’ll often pay a little more for organic if I think it’ll lessen the impact on the planet.

  40. oldtaku says:

    Wait! Was this bread slicer produced in the same factory that also produces parts of peanut factories? OH MY GOD

  41. MadMolecule says:

    Wow, for a readership that’s generally pretty tolerant of different ideas, you guys are, uh, totally f*ing intolerant.

  42. hallpass says:

    This thread makes me want to snarf down a box of Ho-Hos.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I actually read it and thought, “it slices fingers and bread… that’s awesome…” ha

  44. peter_van says:

    As soon as I saw that sign, I thought, “Hm, that seems like something my fellow Vancouverites would be douchebags about.” Imagine that, I was right. No sane person would demand that. Who are these people that are even thinking about this? I’m willing to put down cash saying they drove to that Capers (the market in question)/Whole Foods.

    Reminds me of the guy who rudely insisted my sanitary co-worker in a Vancouver cafe use gloves to handle his tea bag. She laughed, gave in to his request and then requested he never return. She was backed up by the owner. I’m not all about coffee/cafe nazi-ism, but some people need their thorax punched every once in awhile to remind them of how big of a douchebag they really are. (Even if they don’t realize because they’re so self-important, that’s okay, because us normal folks get to thorax-punch a douchebag,)

  45. Anonymous says:

    Howard Hughes wasn’t a douchebag. :P

  46. KanedaJones says:

    uhm ok lemme get this straight.

    a sign is put up so data can be conveyed.
    those who care can act accordingly
    those who don’t care can ignore it.

    no such thing as too much data.

    and when did cross contamination become a thing of fiction??? Its not that I care, I eat moldy bread with process food spreads, full of crumbs from the last bread I ate, spread with a knife not washed in months.. but realy.. when did knifes suddenly become instantly constantly sterile?

    even with me being one myself, I sometimes get pissed at Boing Boing’s brand of intelligencia douchebaggery.

    just a sign for cripes sake.

    someone tell you not to take a picture in public and its ten pages of “my rights, my rights!”

    someone post a sign for people and you get to say “look at the pompous self important person who would care over that issue! what a moron!”

    geeeez.

  47. Cicada says:

    “Reminds me of the guy who rudely insisted my sanitary co-worker in a Vancouver cafe use gloves to handle his tea bag.”

    Honestly, I cannot read this without snickering. Brain went right to the gutter.

  48. Anonymous says:

    My first Observation was the Random capitalization Used in the sign. Does that Make Me some sort of Editing douchebag?

  49. Anonymous says:

    Lasers might not work, but water jets work just fine: http://www.kmtwaterjet.com/food.aspx

  50. Boris Yeltsyn says:

    G-d: And remember Moses, in the laws of keeping Kosher, never cook a calf in its mother’s milk. It is cruel.
    Moses: Ohhhhhh! So you are saying we should never eat milk and meat together.

    G-d: No, what I’m saying is, never cook a calf in its mother’s milk.
    Moses: Oh, Lord forgive my ignorance! What you are really saying is we should wait six hours after eating meat to eat milk so the two are not in our stomachs.

    G-d: No, Moses, what I’m saying is, never cook a calf in it’s mother’s milk!!!
    Moses: Oh, Lord! Please don’t strike me down for my stupidity! What you mean is we should have a separate set of dishes for milk and a separate set for meat and if we make a mistake we have to bury that dish outside…

    G-d: Moses, do whatever you want….

  51. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t anything new to someone who visits Whole Foods. They have those signs on few self-service machines, like coffee grinders.

  52. GauchoAmigo says:

    @3 I think that means you’re an eco douchebag

  53. Brainspore says:

    @didymos #45:

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PESTICIDE-FREE FARMING.

    Free debating tip: you come off looking like less of a dumbass if you avoid making unqualified, easily disproven statements like that. Especially when they are made in all caps.

  54. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    I used to wait tables at a really nice restaurant. This restaurant was totally NOT kosher. It was not even “Kosher-style”! Delicious shrimps and lobsters and pork dishes were EVERYWHERE. Milk and meat were cooked in the same pans all the time. No Rabbis had ever been by to bless the place or whatever.

    One day an old man came in and ordered a steak. The chef put two grilled shrimps on the side as part of the garnish. This man saw the shrimp and screamed and threw his plate at me because I had given him shrimps. “I can’t eat this! It’s not KOSHER!” He couldn’t eat the steak either because the shrimps had touched it. People are nuts.

  55. Xopher says:

    Phikus…sorry. I just realized you were pulling our collective leg. You even said so in terms that should have been readable to most.

    My advice, however, stands.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Just to clear things up – I work at Whole Foods, and the store itself is a USDA organic certified store. Yes, the store. It is essentially a marketing tactic to show dedication to standards, because a lot of our customers care – either because they like the elitism and have a lot of money or they are honest bred earth lovers. In order to keep this status we have to follow organic standards in every fashion to the key, everywhere. That means although it sure is ridiculous, we cannot store any conventional bulk or produce above organic, we cannot use the same tools in the prepared foods department that touched anything conventionally grown for something organic without washing it with approved cleaners and then triple rinsing it first, and in a sink that is up to organic standards – usually a separate one entirely. This is why most stores just have an entire separate set of organic spoons, knives, and other food-prep tools. [yes, #7, not the same sink, not the same tools, and yes homeopathy is bullshit.] If an organic orange so much as touches the surface of a conventional orange, it must be sold as conventional. If there is a situation where conventional and organic are being mixed at all, we are legally obligated to inform the customer. That is what the sign is about – Legal obligations to keep a marketing tactic.
    -Liddell

  57. Phikus says:

    All shrimp and bread; organic / inorganic aside, I hate it when I order a simple sandwich and chips or even a burger and fries in some places, and find a huge slice of pickle on the plate. If there is one taste that pervades everything it touches, even momentarily, it is the damn pickle. Who started this “tradition” and how can I get it to stop? No one ever mentions on the menu that they are gonna throw one of these god-awful things on the plate to taint all of my food with that putrid pickly taste. I’m throwing up a little in my mouth just thinking about it. STOP THE PICKLE INSANITY!

    This has been a public service announcement of Pickles Where Not Even Desired. Thank you.

  58. Hans says:

    Millions dying each year from malnutrition, millions more die from having a water supply which doubles as a sewer system, and people are worried about the health risks of non-organic bread contaminating their organic bread? It’s nonsense. It’s madness.

  59. Xopher says:

    Boris: And also we have to make darn sure we don’t boil a chicken in its mother’s milk!!! That would not only be cruel, it’d be unnatural.

  60. Anonymous says:

    It probably has something to do with allergies.

    I worked In a chicken factory for a couple of years. We slaughtered and butched ecological/organic chicken (KRAV, a Swedish certificate). Those chickens weren’t allowed two eat fish, soy, peanuts, shellfish and antibiotics. There are also rigorous rules about cleaning between “conventional” chickens and organic chickens. We did clean in between, but cheated and only followed conventional Swedish/EU food industry standard(*). Our bosses found the rules for organic chicken to time consuming and to expensive.

    A lot of food allergics can only eat organic chicken (with the right certificate). BUT, they couldn’t eat our without consequences. Some end customers got swollen throats and other medical problems, someone even went to coma, we lost our license and everything was hushed down.

    (*) It wasn’t that it wasn’t clean, you can’t get rid of every contamination in a factory, that’s just impossible, there are contaminations even in white rooms producing electronics and pharmaceuticals, you have to stop somewhere before it gets too unpractical. Our bosses ordered us to cheat, some of us protested, but we couldn’t find the right authorities to contact before it was to late. As a comparison US hygienic food industry standard is a joke, no one would even call that clean within a home kitchen, and they mix production of different foodstuff within the same factories to a much higher degree. Thats why a lot of food produced in US can’t be exported to EU, Russia, China, Muslim countries (traceable pork contamination, at some occasions even dog meat contamination, despite the fact that US don’t officially produce any dog meat), India and a lot of other countries. I wouldn’t want to be someone with severe food allergies living in US.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Way too many posts to read and see if this has already been posted, but in the US, “organic” is a term officially handed out by the USDA that comes with an ass-load of rules including posting stupid signs like this one (Yes, I’m a Whole Foods employee and we spend at least a month going over all these little nit-picky rules). So to call any product “organic” you have to meet a myriad of qualifications and to sell that product as an “organic” product you have to follow at least half or more of the rules the producer had to follow. Ladies and gentlemen, organic is not just a word you can slap on any old food product (at least in the US).

  62. robulus says:

    Well we’ve got loads of people and only so much arable land, so we need to increase yields beyond what conventional production can offer.

    Only way forward is genetic modification.

    Is that PC or not? I honestly can’t tell anymore.

  63. MadMolecule says:

    Hans: Millions dying each year from malnutrition, millions more die from having a water supply which doubles as a sewer system, and you’re wasting time reading a blog on the Internet?

  64. clenchner says:

    I think the sign is pretty stupid, but it makes me sad that BB’ers use it as a stepping stone to making fun of Jews who care about Kashrut.

    I’m not very strict myself, but I do care, and having that concern tagged as ‘insane’ by folks who don’t understand is kind of the opposite of respect and tolerance.

    Just to be clear: like some other categories of religious thought, Kashrut won’t stand up to logical scrutiny. It’s kind of a faith-based eating practice. Without claiming to know why god put in in the bible, I’ll repeat this bit of wisdom: being mindful about your food, where it comes from and how you consume it is a good thing, and it’s nice to see others in the culture take food and eating more seriously as well.

    Workers and animals contribute mightily to our diet. The planet suffers because of our unsustainable food practices. Obesity is a growing national threat.

    Are mindful eaters and its nuttier adherents really the problem here?

    Note to gentiles: broadly speaking, kosher food isn’t actually any better for you. It’s a ritual thing. Stick to organic! Avoid processed foods!

  65. MattF says:

    It’s never surprising to see people behave weirdly about food. Or about sex or money. Or about politics. Or, um, about just about anything, actually.

  66. misterfricative says:

    ‘bread-slicer wires’

    Surely some mistake?

    What are you trying to do to the poor innocent loaf, slice it or garotte it?

    To cut bread, I guess you could use a bandsaw-type arrangement, although I think most commercial slicers either have reciprocating knives or (more rarely) rotating blades.

    Or is this some new learning that I need to know about?

  67. Moriarty says:

    “And yet this directly echoes what Kosher consumers expect, and we’re all “respectful” of THAT insanity because it’s based on religion…?”

    I’m starting to think this pretty much is too.

  68. Anonymous says:

    There’s a misconception in your explanatory paragraph which is repeated by at least one commenter so far.

    Organic foods are not generally pesticide-free. It’s virtually impossible to farm without using pesticides. Organic farms avoid use of “artificial” pesticides, but they still use “natural” pesticides — which in some cases are some of the most poisonous pesticides we have.

  69. _kevitivity says:

    Los Angeles is absolutely overrun with “Eco-Douchebags” – just love that term. Organic is a marketing term more than anything, but it’s become such a huge meme now…

  70. Xopher says:

    SLOP, I hope you pressed assault charges against that psycho loonie.

  71. SamSam says:

    They have almost the exact same signs up next to the coffee grinder at my local Whole Foods in Cambridge. Something along the lines of

    Customers should note that the same coffee grinder is used for both organic and conventional coffee.

    Customers who are concerned about the integrity of their organic coffee should consider using their own grinder at home.

  72. annoyingmouse says:

    @16 “One day an old man came in and ordered a steak. The chef put two grilled shrimps on the side as part of the garnish. This man saw the shrimp and screamed and threw his plate at me because I had given him shrimps. “I can’t eat this! It’s not KOSHER!” He couldn’t eat the steak either because the shrimps had touched it. People are nuts.”

    Much as I find the religious thing daft but something I’ll reluctantly respect (if that’s at all possible) I’m not sure I understand this story. Are you suggesting that giving people something on their plate that they don’t want is somehow funny? If I got this after ordering steak I’d send it back because I really don’t like shrimp. I find the taste horrible and it would put me of the steak Is that any less picky than having some religious preference? Probably no different. Quite frankly if my mother ordered steak and got shrimps she do the same thing or worse when she started going into anaphylactic shock. (Now if it was listed on the menu then that’s another matter)

    On the other hand, the sign is so funny that I’d probably not be able to order anything if I saw it at a counter because I’d be laughing so much (I’d crack an anaphylaughtic joke but it probably would make me look stupid if I haven’t already done that myself)

  73. jfrancis says:

    I’m more put off by the editorial the president of Whole Foods wrote in the WSJ about what he saw as the evils of universal health care.

  74. PaulR says:

    SamSam @ 22:

    Y’see, I’d change that sign to read:

    “Customers who are concerned about the flavour of their organic coffee should consider using their own grinder at home.”

    And their own roaster at home, while their at it.

  75. GTMoogle says:

    Clenchner, The story I heard (and I’m no scholar on these matters) is things like ‘no milk and meat together’ was based on the condemnation of an old ritual tradition of boiling a calf in its mother milk (clearly ritualistic in its specificity), and by having that condemnation of a ritual turned into another ritual, utterly missing the entire point.

    As I said, I’m no scholar on these matters and this is a ‘just so’ story that I retell because ‘it made sense to me’, so large grains of salt and all that ritual.

    http://boingboing.net/2009/06/06/evolution-religion-s.html
    If you missed it, check out this lecture that mentions the instances of OCD in religion.

    So, yeah, the kind of behavior that prompts stuff like this warning sign are probably EXACTLY what leads to religious rituals.

    BTW, you can be sad all you want, but while I will absolutely defend the right of *anyone* to believe *anything*, I will also defend my right to make fun of people for believing silliness. The thing is I’m pretty sure everyone here DOES understand how it feels to believe. That doesn’t make it true, and it doesn’t make believing in illogical things sane.

    —-
    What I was going to post before I read the comments:
    The new cooties:
    Conventional food
    Fat

  76. Anonymous says:

    i can understand this, if only for reasons of allergy. The organic breads at the store i usually shop at (My Organic Market ftw btw) have same great breads, but the higher quality breads often have fruit and cheese in them, and i woudn’t want to risk getting enough on the bread for an allergic reaction.

    but discounting that as a possible motive.

    stuck up morons. ugh.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Dear Douch-boingers,

    The sign you see is posted because of regulations that obligate food preparers to inform their customers.

    If they called their food vegan, most vegans would expect them to use separate facilities that do not ever prepare non-vegan food.

    If they called their food kosher, their customers would assume that the kitchen itself is kosher, which also has implications for limiting certain equipment to kosher foods only.

    If they called their food halal, similar obligations would also exist.

    The idea of separating organic from conventional is little different from any of those. But it matters to people just as much as libre software licenses matter to us.

    I have read boing-boing since it was printed in mimeograph purple and mailed to my house. This is the most ignorant thing I’ve ever seen followed up by a chain of equally ignorant comments here. Let’s not make a habit of this, please.

  78. roboton says:

    MadMolecule: Come on, your harshing on Hans’s self-righteous indignation trip!

  79. Anonymous says:

    #140 posted by Secret_Life_of_Plants
    But my main point was that, even if there had not been shrimps *on* the plate, his steak would not have been Kosher. He was a hypocrite. Kosher law has all kinds of rules for preparation, use of pans, slaughtering of animals, blessing stuff, etc. etc. … It’s like “House” says “Do it all, do nothing, or you’re a hypocrite.”

    Again, a complete misunderstanding of Kosher. Different denominations have different rules.
    See post #71

    You are completely right that he was insane to throw the plate at you, just as he would have been if he’d been allergic to something on the plate. It’s not your responsibility to know his secret rules.

    Complain about his rudeness and ridiculousness all you like, just don’t think you get to decide what his secret rules are.

    Oh, and I religiousness too. A lot. No, seriously.

  80. Anonymous says:

    The illusion of purity is appealing only for those with crippling control issues. We should feel sorry for them, because the world is, statistically speaking, completely out of their control.

  81. Logorrheac says:

    That sign is there for liability reasons. Legally, an organic product must not come in contact with non-organic products, or it will lose it’s it’s legal ‘organicness’. Being cut on the same slicer that a non-organic loaf had previously been cut on would legally cause an organic loaf to lose it’s orgnic status. Anyone who sells it as organic is open to a $10,000 fine per instance.
    So, if you bought that loaf of bread, and say, an organic apple that had fallen into the ‘conventional’ bin, you could report the store (to the FDA, I believe), and have them fined $20,000.

    If you take a careful look at the produce department, you’ll see many organic items in plastic bags (carrots, etc.). These bagged items are used to divide the organic sections from the ‘conventional’; to prevent ‘commingling’ (that is the legal word).

    Of course, you could debate how silly it is to have written the law that way, but it seems sensible that there would have to be some standard for maintaining the integrity of the product after it leaves the farm. This standard might be ridiculously strict, but it does force some responsibility on retailers, and the only negative result so far has been silly signs.

  82. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The concentrations of pesticide residue IN THE AIR around potentially treated vegetables in a store is a literal absurdism, we’re talking like, a few individual molecules per m^3 here. Her reaction is obviously purely psychological.

    I know someone with an almond allergy who’s had an anaphylactic reaction just by being in the vicinity of a tree in blossom. It doesn’t really take much. People end up in the hospital pretty regularly from minor cross-contamination of food prep equipment.

  83. davedorr9 says:

    @KANEDAJONES:

    There is such a thing as too much data*, since we only have limited attentional time and need to prioritize. If we denoted every rule that exists with a sign like this, occasionally, we would fail to prioritize the sign that says: ‘Department of Health standards: FAILED’ at the establishment in question.

    In my mind, this sort of misses the point, but it is a valid reflection on the state of our society: do the signs that are targeted to the tiny exceptions of people that care about this topic self-propagate these beliefs and the need for more signs? For instance, a sign on a metal statue that says ‘Hot when sunny’, while protecting the .001% of people who would not know metal is hot, actually do more harm because more people start to think hot metal statues are a public menace and we need to have more signs – and potentially legislation – to reduce the danger?

    * although I would call this ‘information’, not data.

  84. Anonymous says:

    1. My former stepfather was a jerk about this, but not the organic kind— hated the thought of organic produce, could (and did) go on and on about the *compost* and *bugs* that would be on lettuce, would make us wash our hands if he knew we had been handling produce from the neighbour’s garden and would not let us keep it in the crisper with his fruits/ veggies.

    2. Isn’t insisting upon non-sustainable farming practices when one can afford to eat locally/ sensibly produced food (I don’t know about elsewhere, but here in the States, it’s cheaper to be a “factory farmer” than to use sustainable practices that are largely regarded ) technically being kind of a douchebag anyhow?

    3. I would not be shocked to find that this sign arose spontaneously, that is, as a result of a manager or employee thinking that there might be someone to whom this would be relevant, rather than as a result of consumer complaint/ request. Considerate service, however misplaced the ideal, can happen to anyone.

    I guess— my point is that the assumption that it’s those who prefer to eat organically who are being eye boogers* should be examined.

    Disclaimer: I make my own damn bread and get to avoid thinking about this sort of thing.

    *douche bags, used medicinally/ recreationally and not to imply that if one’s genitals don’t reek of urinal cakes or triclosan, one is “not-so-fresh,” are at least useful, so I’m not going to use the term in a degrading fashion

  85. Anonymous says:

    i think you all are missing the point…. why did this sign come about??? if you see how things are done behind the scenes, you may understand this a bit more….

    when both the organic and conventional crops get harvested and transported, the trucks that haul them are not the same. they have ones designated for organics. one can understand why since why would a farmer risk his crops covered in pesticide residues and later test positive just because he used the same truck…

    organic deli meat cannot be sharing the same slicer as well… (i believe legally?)

    yes, the deli meat and bread examples are quite wacky but at the end of the day, why aren’t we mocking the “conventional” ways? i rather be disclosed than just hidden behind the scenes. you can make decisions then. (no i don’t care personally if the slicers are used on either one). we should be mocking the skull & bones sign that get placed (legally?) before the spraying of california vineyards and the irony of red wine as the healthy alternative to grape juice.

  86. Anonymous says:

    I think organic food is becoming a game of class-based “food cooties.”

  87. Xopher says:

    Phikus: Just say “Hold the pickle” no matter what you order. This will get laughs at the ice-cream store, but really costs you nothing. I’m actually very serious: it will make this previously-annoying problem a source of fun in your life. Yes, it means you have to be the one to remember, but isn’t that better than an endless parade of pickly food?

    I think sliced bread is the worst thing since sliced bread.

    Seriously, if I buy a loaf of bread from a fancy-schmancy organic store, it’s because I don’t have time to bake my own, and I’m certainly not about to have it pre-sliced. But that’s me.

    I hadn’t realized that organic food eaters were so religious about these things, or that legal standards were so strict. Now that I do know the sign seems much less silly than it did at first. You learn things from other people, how about that? Why do the people on the teaching side in this case have to be so resentful? Are the Boingers supposed to Know All Things? That’s just silly.

    People have brought up allergies, but that’s a red herring (I’m allergic to red herring, myself). If you’re so allergic to peanuts that slicing your bread on the same machine that sliced peanutty bread (and let me say YUCK to the idea of bread with any peanut content at all) will cause you a dangerous or even annoying reaction, you really shouldn’t be buying your bread in a store. Or at any rate having it sliced in the store. Who knows what some minimum-wage high-school kid may have done, even if there is a separate slicer for the peanut-free bread? Don’t put your health in the hands of untrained people who don’t know you.

    I’m a vegetarian, and myself I’ve given up looking at the knives in delis. It’s not the path to happiness.

  88. Baldhead says:

    The sign is silly, and not even close to the level of food- weirdness to be found in this city.

    And the Jewish guy flipping out over the shellfish? well if you have special dietary requirements you have to tell your server. Especially since most menus I see these days tell you EVERYTHING that’s on the plate.

  89. Anonymous says:

    Guys let’s all take a step back here to the age of paleo.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCFZoqmKf5M

    It’s very simply laid out with fun pictures and neat words for all of boingboing to appreciate!

    Bread = evil

  90. Takuan says:

    Canada… isn’t that where a bunch of people recently died because someone didn’t wash a deli meat slicer?

  91. Lysy404 says:

    I am proposing a new law , sort of Godwin’s law variation… The longer any internet discussion goes the better are chances that religion gets involved.
    #16 point was, if you are kosher , ASK first if food is kosher than throw the plate. When customer ordered steak and shrimp, did he not know that they likely will touch each other? I will also ask question if one does not know the food touched each other is this still a sin?
    I think #25 summed it up nicely, religion or whatever it does look silly.
    OTOH let’s not disregard food allergies, like peanuts. How far one wants to take them, well… that is another question.

  92. Dv Revolutionary says:

    People are naturally picky to absolutist when it involves their food and that’s not going to change overnight. There are multiple evolutionary and social reasons that have encouraged this. Those processes are still ongoing.

    Even the people who don’t think they are picky are picky and want to stick to the foods they enjoy and trust. You know hamburger and fry eaters who hate organic food and vice versa. Not only do they hate the other food they have a hard time understanding why someone else would “do that to their body”.

  93. Xopher says:

    Anon. 95: the “pesticide aisle” is the one with the bug spray in it. While I’m not as sensitive as the woman described in the post you deride, my lungs tighten as I pass the bug spray. It’s a much higher concentration than emanates from the vegetables.

    You appear to have misread the post as claiming a much higher level of sensitivity than it did, then accused the woman of having OCD based on your misreading.

  94. Anonymous says:

    Why are you “inclined to believe that pesticide-free food production has health benefits”? Good for the planet seems reasonable, but more healthy? there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence or logical reasoning that backs up the first belief.

    Indeed Ben Goldacre who you have frequently championed on your site, is certainly of a different opinion:
    http://www.badscience.net/2009/08/check-me-out-i-bought-some-posh-chocolate-im-political/

  95. teufelsdroch says:

    As #26 refers to, this sign is no more and no less crazy than the basic logic of organic foods.

    If you think pesticides are slowly killing the world’s population, it’s no leap at all to think they could ‘infect’ your food through contact. And, it’s in that spirit that the definition of ‘organic’ is written.

    People just want to feel special and different. Personally I like organic foods because things like Fair Trade coffee often come in for the bargain: the food isn’t better for you, but paying more for it IS better for the farmers.

  96. tomboing says:

    Sure, it seems ridiculous, especially the way Cory framed the article with his opening comments. But why is silly to think chemicals are powerful in small amounts? You might bravely wet your fingertip, lightly touch a heap of wheat flour, and lick what sticks. Would you do the same with a heap of pesticide? What is your personal cutoff point for the number of grains of pesticide you would laughingly put on your tongue?

    If you were allergic to lactose, wheat gluten, fish, poison ivy, what’s the point at which you would say, “None for me, thanks.” Would the offending amount be visible? Would you shake hands with someone who had just touched the stuff? Why is it goofy to think unsavory stuff can cling to a cutting instrument and get on the next thing the instrument cuts? Would you cut a piece of moldy bread then use the same knife, without wiping it first, to spread butter on your toast?

    Should doctors get the “germs” off their hands before sticking their hands into your insides? Surely we’re not still denying there are things at non-visible sizes or even barely visible sizes that can do a body harm…are we?

  97. noen says:

    This is just fetishism. The idea that pesticides, which are not in bread in the first place, could somehow “contaminate” organic bread is nuts. But the notion that bread is objectively bad for you is barking mad. Right up there with aromatherapy and homeopathy.

  98. MRKiscaden says:

    Dear Customers,

    Please be advised that the soap our employees use to wash their hands before handling our organic bread is the same soap that is used when handling non-organic breads. In the interest of customer satisfaction, all our soap is made from 100% organic baby seal blubber. Thank You.

  99. homestarrunrun says:

    Let’s forget about the silliness of the sign and think about how stupid the entire organic movement is. For the entirety of human history until 200 years ago, the population of Earth never rose above 1 billion. Even 50 years ago it was 3 billion. Now it’s at 6.8 billion because we’re able to feed people and keep them healthy. And certain sources have estimated that organic farming could only support 4 billion people at the most.

    So how big a douchebag, nay, an inhuman monster, do you have to be to say that making sure the food you eat as a member of the ten richest societies in the world, does not have pesticide when it means nearly 3 billion people in Africa and Asia would die if that were the only way of farming. The same goes for eco-friendly measures such as the Kyoto protocol. To cut back on electricity also cuts down on the possibility that Africa may develop industry and stop having people die of relatively benign diseases.

  100. Talia says:

    #32

    If you want to be that paranoid about it, might as well just lock yourself indoors and never emerge. Cause outside has all them scary nasty germs and chemicals!

    Better safe than sorry!!

  101. magicbean says:

    #86, can I suggest you try asking me what I think and what my experience is rather than telling me what your (incorrect) assumptions about me are…you get more accurate information that way.

  102. dqkennard says:

    They should use laser cutters. Frickin giant laser bread slicers.

    Of course, then all sliced bread would be toast, but at least contamination would be avoided.

  103. TheCrawNotTheCraw says:

    @5

    ‘And yet this directly echoes what Kosher consumers expect, and we’re all “respectful” of THAT insanity because it’s based on religion…?’

    Gosh, you sound offended. And what pissed you off so much…that some people choose to follow a (religious dietary) tradition?

    Are you offended at vegetarians because they only choose to eat vegetables? Or are you just a malcontent jerk? I suspect the later.

    Nobody’s forcing *you* to eat Kosher anything, so why don’t you just get lost?

  104. gths says:

    There’d be a point if some of their bread had ingredients that were common allergens, i.e. nuts (though those mainly turn up on things like buns) or various kinds of seeds, aside from that, it’s possibly being a little precious.

    What I find funny is people who insist on gluten-free foodstuffs when they don’t have coeliac disease.

  105. Anonymous says:

    @23: I grew up in The South, and we actually solved these kashrut problems by simply saying we were allergic to shellfish. People are a lot more careful then.

    Of course, a person who was allergic to shellfish would probably be a bit more careful about their choice of restaurants.

    Also, for those of you who are comparing this issue to kashrut, it’s been my experience that most people who keep seriously kosher consider it to be their responsibility, not that of the restaurant. But if they walked into a kosher restaurant and were served shrimp, they’d probably be justifiably angry.

    No doubt there are kosher-douchebags out there, too (Jouchebags?), because douchebags come in all forms.

  106. KanedaJones says:

    @113 davedorr9

    “There is such a thing as too much data*, since we only have limited attentional time and need to prioritize.”

    avoidance of information overload has gotten glen beck, christianity, and mob rule a lot of followers. Its too bad that people do not learn what to prioritize or dismiss using their brains, instead of saying there’s so much it – I’ll tune out it ALL.

    “do the signs that are targeted to the tiny exceptions of people that care about this topic self-propagate these beliefs and the need for more signs?”

    unfortunately yes but that’s because the most popular way of thinking today is if multiple others think its true then the odds are in favor of it being true.

    I would hope we wouldn’t cater to the dumbest of those out there. If so we are likely to end up in a scary Vonnegut story, never to return.

  107. Anonymous says:

    #9 Pesticides were not introduced after WWII, they existed well before that. Organo-phosphates were being developed before WWII. Chemists knew nicotine was a pesticide. The difference is that the chemical industry was massively expanded during the war and so had huge amounts of new production capacity to use.

  108. gollux says:

    If you’re so organically inclined, take the loaf home, expend some of that energy given to you by the bread and slice it yourself. That way you know your bread hasn’t been homeopathically infected by the bread machine operator sneezing on the slicing wires, or whatever. As a long time baker, pre-sliced bread is for decadents anyway.

  109. devinj says:

    @33 wheat is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. No, they don’t come along and spray the loaf, but before it gets milled and baked, it’s full of the stuff.

  110. k1p says:

    I got a coffee grinder for home use about 10 years ago to stop the WORST type of cross-contamination ever. That is the cross-contamination of “flavored” beans into my normal coffee beans.

  111. chappai says:

    I work as a product demonstrator in a large warehouse store.

    This sign is NOT as crazy as people think. A lot of children as well as adults have allergies to nuts, glutens and dairy products. Some breads do have grains or nuts in them, a large number of them have glutens and dairy as well. We have to post allergy signs on our carts all the time and make sure children visiting the carts with no parents do not take samples until the adult is there with them.

    You’d be surprised just to read a product label to find out how many items that we consume contain these items that people seem to be allergic to.

    In some cases, its a simple as “this product was packaged in a plant that also packages items containing nuts and dairy products..” even if the item in question doesn’t contain any of them.

    In a society that loves to sue anyone for any reason, this isn’t an unreasonible direction for any business to go to protect themselves.

  112. Anonymous says:

    The point of the signs is that the law for the term organic has a lot of rules, one of them being that organics can’t come in contact with conventional items. They’re not trying to be DB’s just following the rules…

  113. Beelzebuddy says:

    #115 Xopher: Seeing as how this entire thread has been about pesticide residue on non-organic food and not mentioning actual bug spray at all, I don’t think the conclusion Anonymous jumped to is altogether unjustified. I made the same leap myself: “oh look. Another crazy post demonizing inorganic food.”

    Perhaps if you were a little less ambiguous when writing, people would be less likely to misread you.

  114. Anonymous says:

    Just to pipe up, because nobody ever seems to know this, but USDA Organic certification allows pesticides to be used on foods, it just limits them to naturally derived compounds from bacteria and such (Bt, the same stuff used in GM foods is a favorite). So the differences between organic and conventional farming aren’t as earth-shaking as some people believe.

  115. p96 says:

    SUMMARY: Food allergies are a bitch, douchebags who’ve never experienced them say otherwise.

  116. p96 says:

    That should read:

    SUMMARY: Food / chemical allergies are a bitch, douchebags who’ve never experienced them say otherwise.

  117. Anonymous says:

    Why the name calling because someone eats differently than you do? It isn’t just about pesticides either. Commercial bread has a range of additives and ingredients not used in organic bread. If the machine isn’t wiped off between loaves, yes, transfer will occur. Maybe it isn’t very much. But if a person has switched to organics to avoid these additives and ingredients (in my case, to ameliorate severe allergies), it can be useful to know this information.

  118. TEKNA2007 says:

    @#35: If you want to be that paranoid about it, might as well just lock yourself indoors and never emerge. Cause outside has all them scary nasty germs and chemicals!

    I used to date someone who was so sensitive to pesticides, she literally could not walk down the pesticide aisle at the grocery store. She would gag and reel (if she tried to make it all the way from one end to the other, instead of just turning away).

    It’s easy to see how someone would want to be paranoid about what goes into their body if there’s some food ingredient they can’t tolerate. Different strokes …

  119. Anonymous says:

    Who the hell is still shopping at Whole Foods? Did you not get the memo that it’s a Libertarian run organization set up exclusively for the purpose of separating gullible eco-snobs from their money?

  120. dculberson says:

    #16′s point was that the steak wouldn’t be kosher even if there was no shrimp on the plate. It’s not kosher unless the kitchen that prepares it is kosher.

  121. Anonymous says:

    #26 has it right. i work at a store that sells organic and conventional produce, and as per the FDA the two must remain separate. if organic produce (or anything) touches conventional produce (or anything) it ceases to be organic and cannot be sold as such.
    crazy, yes. but it’s the law.

  122. Anonymous says:

    Everyone in our society eats non-organic food at least some of the time, in quantities that completely dwarf the crumbs from the slicer. Imagine somebody goes to this bakery and gets bread that has been sliced with this non-organic slicer for 364 days a year, and then has a sandwich made with non-organic bread once a year. The one sandwich probably has way more non-organic material than all the crumbs from the slicer added together for the whole year. That’s why this is so ridiculous.

  123. didymos says:

    Seriously?

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PESTICIDE-FREE FARMING.

    Seriously, ask the EPA how they define “organic farming”. It’s right there on their website: http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/tbio.html

    “Organic” simply implies that *synthetic* pesticides are not used in the farming process. Biopesticides (microbial pesticides, plant pesticides, and biochemical pesticides) are still accepted as “organic” pesticides, and are still used in the farming of ALL commercial “organic” produce. Pesticide-free farming does not scale well, and is simply not sustainable. The only way you’re going to get pesticide-free produce is if you’re growing it in your own backyard.

  124. Anonymous says:

    It’s douche baggery to make fun of people for their preferences, especially since everyone has unjustified idiosyncratic behaviors. I’m sorry that Corry presented the story as such. I expect better of bb.

    Disclaimer: I often eat organic and I eat food off the floor.

  125. Anonymous says:

    Didymos,

    There is such thing as pesticide free farming. It occurs in my backward, my friends’ yards, and our sites at the community garden.

    Seriously.

  126. pahool says:

    I’m sorry, I only use bread slicers that are made of hemp.

  127. Xopher says:

    I didn’t write the post about the pesticide aisle, Beelzebuddy. That was Tekna2007, here. But it said “pesticide aisle,” not “conventional foods sprayed with yucky pesticides aisle.”

    I think the only reasonable reading of ‘pesticide aisle’ is “the aisle where they sell pesticides.” I don’t really see the ambiguity there.

  128. Anonymous says:

    tekna2007 -
    the pesticide aisle at the grocery store?
    you should shop somewhere else :p

  129. Anonymous says:

    Don’t be so defensive Xopher. You are confusing derision with entirely reasonable skepticism. And I didn’t “accuse” the woman of having OCD, it’s not exactly a crime you know, I strongly suspected her of having it. And as someone who suffers from a moderate case, I can tell you that irrational fears and reactions to “trace contaminants” is a classic hallmark of the disorder. Admittedly, our note about the bug spray aisle is somewhat plausible.

  130. jimkirk says:

    According to TranslationParty.com, this becomes

    “We both organic Pansuraisa, please note we use the traditional items.”

    As far as the silliness of the sign, here’s the law. http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=43d4e333dbb7ae5c85d026705dcae64e&rgn=div5&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.31&idno=7#7:3.1.1.9.31.2.342.4

    § 205.272 Commingling and contact with prohibited substance prevention practice standard.

    (a) The handler of an organic handling operation must implement measures necessary to prevent the commingling of organic and nonorganic products and protect organic products from contact with prohibited substances.

    (b) The following are prohibited for use in the handling of any organically produced agricultural product or ingredient labeled in accordance with subpart D of this part:

    (1) Packaging materials, and storage containers, or bins that contain a synthetic fungicide, preservative, or fumigant;

    (2) The use or reuse of any bag or container that has been in contact with any substance in such a manner as to compromise the organic integrity of any organically produced product or ingredient placed in those containers, unless such reusable bag or container has been thoroughly cleaned and poses no risk of contact of the organically produced product or ingredient with the substance used.

    Maybe it’s the way each paragraph is labeled like chapter and verse, but the law does read much like the Law.

    As for the whole concept, it reminds me a lot of “zero tolerance” laws regarding carcinogens. Yes, they are bad, but as technology improves from detecting parts per million to parts per billion to parts per trillion to parts per quadrillion…, a law that reads “there shall be zero detectable…” is flawed. Each new detection breakthrough requires a new round of determining if any substance is present, independent of the actual risk. Perhaps the only thing that could possible pass is a homeopathic remedy!

  131. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t have time to read all of the comments so apologies if someone has already mentioned this. A lot of the people in the comments seem to think large commercial farms are still using pesticides similar to DDT. Most big farms now use pesticides that only kill insects (they attack a cell function in insects that our cells don’t have). So, unless some new information comes out, they are actually perfectly safe for us. Most large organic farms DO use pesticides and in a lot of cases pesticides that are actually bad for us.

    So if you don’t like the idea of pesticides (even though our current pesticides are actually safe for us) you either need to grow your own food or buy from a local farm that you’ve checked out.

    (This is a science blog, among other things. Someone please back me up)

  132. agraham999 says:

    Talk to your eco-douchebag government. They actually regulate stuff like this. For example, if you are roasting coffee beans, organic beans can’t touch the same scoop that non-organic beans do or they become non-organic…whatever that means.

  133. bunedoggle says:

    Dear Customer,

    Please be advised that the air your breathing may in fact have entered the lungs of a non-Eco-douchebag and therefore may contain any number of non-organic (whatever that means) substances.

    For your own health and the good of those around you please stop breathing.

    -Management

  134. Anonymous says:

    “#16′s point was that the steak wouldn’t be kosher even if there was no shrimp on the plate. It’s not kosher unless the kitchen that prepares it is kosher.”

    This statement is an example of a misunderstanding of Kosher.
    Each person who decides to keep Kosher is also deciding which rules he is going to follow. For some, they can’t use a plate for meat if it has ever been touched for dairy. For others, they can use the plate if it has been buried for a year. For others, they can use the plate for either as long as there isn’t meat and dairy at that very moment. Some people keep Kosher but where clothes made of two different types of cloth, some people keep Kosher and believe a woman must never touch a man who is not her husband, father, or son. Usually you decide based on whether you are Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform; and based on what Temple you attend.

    The rules of Kosher are not really the point. The point is that by living by specific, set rules, ones you have decided on, you are keeping God in the front of your mind. If you say a pray which eat bit of food, if every time you enter a home you touch the doorframe and say a prayer, if every time you are going to consume something you stop and think about whether or not it fits your rules, not in spirit but in letter, you always have God in your mind.

    I don’t think this is anything like convincing yourself that your body is so fragile that eating organic is not enough; you can’t eat anything that’s been touched by something that has touched something nonorganic.

    (By the by, I’m an Atheist and not Jewish. But live near and work with a number of Orthodox Jews, and so have read several books explaining their beliefs)

  135. Carrie says:

    #4 posted by Anonymous said:
    “What really boggles me is who the hell still eats bread with its proven track record for being horrible for your health?”
    Are you crazy bread is great!
    {Hugs latest loaf of home-made bread}
    There-there #4 didn’t mean it.

    #36 posted by dqkennard said
    “They should use laser cutters. Frickin giant laser bread slicers.
    Of course, then all sliced bread would be toast, but at least contamination would be avoided.”
    Ooo, toast, my favorite thing to do with bread.

  136. Anonymous says:

    Yes there is no such thing as pesticide free commercial farming, however, there is a large difference between organic pesticides and non-organic. Synthetic pesticides have only been used for the last 100 years and have proven very damaging to the environment in many cases. Pesticides used in organic farming have been used for 100s to 1000s of years and have proven themselves safe to the environment. Many people make the mistake of saying organic is pesticide free, and many people make the mistake of saying conventional farming is basically the same as organic because they both use pesticides. Neither is accurate.

  137. steauengeglase says:

    @36, I’m pretty laser cutting bread up only elevate the topic of toasted bread causing cancer.

  138. ivan256 says:

    The recycled paper that your organic product is packaged in may contain fibers from the packaging of a previous product which was not organic….

    The air circulating around this organic product is also circulating around non-organic products…

    How far can they take this?

    This building contains food items that are known to the State of California to be non-organic…

  139. SKR says:

    Some have decided to study what happens to pesticide contaminated wheat when turned into bread. Turns out quite a bit is destroyed in the cooking process.

    The bread was prepared from wheat flour spiked at different concentrations (1, 2, 3 and 4 mg/kg) with six pesticides (endosulfan, hexaconazole, propiaconazole, malathion, chlorpyriphos and deltamethrin) belonging to different chemical families. A simple, rapid analytical procedure for the quantification of analytes of interest in the matrix was developed using gas chromatography with electron capture detector. During bread-making process, considerable loss of pesticides (47-89%) was observed. Pesticide degradation during the process showed negative correlation with concentration of pesticides in wheat flour.
    Title: Dissipation of pesticides during bread-making.
    Personal Authors: Jagriti Sharma, Santosh Satya, Vipin Kumar, Tewary, D. K.
    Author Affiliation: Center for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110 016, India.
    Editors: No editors
    Document Title: Chemical Health and Safety

    To all those with coffee grinders, I hope it is not one of those high speed spice grinder types. I have found that those just burn the beans.

  140. Quiet Noises says:

    Every grinder in every Starbucks in North America has had the same disclaimer on it for years. Every barista is forced to say it aloud to anyone who buys and grinds organic beans on-site too. FWIW…

  141. Moriarty says:

    Please be advised that some of the water molecules used in cleaning this machine most likely did, at some point, pass through a dinosaur’s urethra. – The Management

  142. mkultra says:

    Having worked in the ag industry for a fair number of years, I’m pretty confident in saying that the whole “certified organic” thing is essentially just a marketing blurb. There are no significant differences in any of the farming practices required from organic to non-organic farming. Fields in question can be switched from traditional to organic farming after something like nine months, if I remember correctly, even after decades of ‘evil’ non-organic-approved pesticide use on that same soil.

    Still convinced that certified organic food is better for you? Try to find a single peer-reviewed double-blind study that agrees with you. It doesn’t exist. Perhaps you feel that it “should” be better for you, but that isn’t the same thing. That’s feelings, not science.

    I personally view that if there’s any benefit whatsoever from organic food, it’s to the environment, not our bodies. There are some valid points to be made about bio-accumulation in certain species with certain compounds.

    Someone told me recently that he ate organic produce from the local organic sustainable farm stand because it ‘tasted better’. Ah, well while I have no doubt that produce from a local farm stand will taste better, the reason is that they can use seed varieties that result in vegetables which have a lot more flavor than can a major commercial operation that has to be able to ship their crop halfway around the world and survive the journey. Tomatoes are the classic example. Corn’s another one. The best-tasting corn on the planet is almost impossible to grow on a commercial scale because it’s so delicate that it’s has to be harvested by hand. Flavor or durability, take your pick.

    Don’t get me started on genetically modified organisms.

  143. Praline says:

    Dear Over-Valued Customers,

    All douchebags sold in Hole Foods are guaranteed organic. The bulbs are made from individually chosen sun-dried Tuscan nun bladders, while the nozzles come from the slow-cured snouts of Bolivian dwarf possums, hand-raised and cream-fed by purebred Amazonian orphans. We recommend you cleanse using our Vatican-certified Tears-of-a-Saint brand facial hydrating mist/vaginal rinse, available in aisle three.

    Warning: Please be advised that our Bread Slicer is used for both organic and conventional items. Douchebags that have been segmented by our Bread Slicer, whether thick slice or sandwich slice, are no longer certified organic by Hole Foods. Additionally, they are no longer certified as douchebags, as they now constitute performance art detritus, and are sold strictly on an “as-is” basis.

    THANK YOU

  144. Thad E Ginataom says:

    I haven’t read 121 posts, but I’ve read enough to be glad that people have noticed the use of the word “conventional” here.

    It sucks.

  145. fricative says:

    I prefer my local Whole Foods’ (perhaps even douche-ier) sign – “Once bread has been sliced, it is NO LONGER ORGANIC”

  146. magicbean says:

    #45, oh my goodness, i had no idea that what I do every day DOESN’T EXIST! Thanks, I’m so relieved, now I know I don’t have to go to work tomorrow at my 10 years pesticide-free farm cause it’s not real! Woohoo, I’m sleeping in!

    Very interesting to see what readers assume is the purpose of the sign. Has anyone asked Whole Foods to find out if it is some legal issue? It’s easy and fun to pin the answer on Teh Crazy, but it might actually be…incorrect.

    That said, chances are pretty good that there’s a deliciously amusing douchebag sandwich in the making.

  147. Beelzebuddy says:

    I didn’t write the post about the pesticide aisle, Beelzebuddy.

    Ah, mea culpa. From the snarkiness of your response it didn’t occur to me to doublecheck.

    I think the only reasonable reading of ‘pesticide aisle’ is “the aisle where they sell pesticides.” I don’t really see the ambiguity there.

    You could also interpret it as deliberate hyperbole. The poster is calling the inorganic produce aisle the “pesticide aisle” in much the same manner that jackasses continually refer to Microsoft as “Micro$UCK.” Considering the topic of the thread and the general evangelical nature of many Eco-Douchebags, the statement’s use as a derogatory label becomes more likely than its factually correct application.

  148. Anonymous says:

    #53, point of fact:
    It takes 3 years to transition a field from conventional to organic.

  149. MadMolecule says:

    Takuan, is that supposed to be relevant somehow?

  150. Snig says:

    Organic bread should only be cut by flint knives, collected by organic mining methods.

    SECRET LIFE @16
    It’s never polite to blame the server for what’s on the plate, and hopefully you didn’t mean literally throwing it at you. But imagine you were offered steak with two grubs on the side. The cook and his countryman finds them delicious, and you know the polite thing would be to try them, (probably taste like shrimp) but not everyone would likely handle it well.

    So everyone knows locusts are kosher, but are locust grubs kosher? Trick question, locusts and other orthopterans don’t have a grub phase, but an immature nymph phase that resembles the adult.

  151. Anonymous says:

    It is not so much that Whole Foods are a bunch of eco-douches. This is a legal requirement.

  152. Unanimous Cowherd says:

    Actually, no, it is not crazy to believe that infinitesimal amounts of a pesticide might contaminate the bread slicer. It’s not crazy if you also believe that infinitesimal amounts of homeopathic remedies actually affect your body.

    OK, so yeah, it is crazy.

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