Emotion beats facts with food

When Aim toothpaste moved its production to India I stopped buying it.

When I read in a newspaper that most of the garlic in our supermarkets came from China I detoured to an organic shop to get my supplies, on the assumption they’d be locally grown.

While chatting to the woman serving me I mentioned why I was there. She replied, “This probably comes from China too.”

Seeing the look on my face she sought to reassure me by saying it would be organic. The reassurance didn’t work because I don’t have strong feelings about the benefits of organic over whatever food that isn’t organic is called (because it can’t be inorganic).

But I do have very strong feelings about food safety and I’m not confident enough about standards in places like India and China to put their produce in my mouth if there’s an alternative.

I say feelings because this is primarily an emotional response not a rational one. I don’t have any facts about the companies which make the toothpaste and grow the garlic to back up my reservations, and I’ve never been to either country.

But it’s not facts that matter here it’s feelings and that should be worrying Fonterra because as Philippa Stephenson points out over at Dig ‘n’ Stir the news of the contaminated infant milk formula has hit the world headlines.

Fonterra said it did everything it could once it found out about the contamination. That will be cold comfort for the families whose babies died or are ill and it won’t wash with consumers who regardless of the facts might feel happier choosing another brand next time.

10 Responses to Emotion beats facts with food

  1. PaulL says:

    Take a close look at those mints you get in the blue tin. Notice any ingredients listed on the side? Notice where they’re made? Apparently the ingredient list is on the wrapper, which is discarded when you open them. A number of my friends stopped eating them after my pointing this out.


  2. Richard says:

    You can easily tell NZ grown garlic, it has the roots intact, and it is yellower, as it hasnt been bleached, and it is currently starting to shoot, ie, grow green shoots inside. also, it has smaller cloves, whereas the chinese garlic has larger (and fewer) individual cloves, no roots left, and is whiter due to either bleaching or it being a slightly different breed.. the garlic at your organic shop would NOT have been grown in China. No self respecting ‘organic’ shop would sell chinese garlic.


  3. Paddax says:

    Cheers – just off to buy a garlic bulb to plant after reading that unsavoury lot…


  4. rayinnz says:

    Paddax has the answer, grow your own

    It is not too late, there is a variety that can be spring planted
    Normally it is plant on the shortest day harvest on the longest

    Check the Oamaru specilist shops, I think I got mine from there last year

    There is also a stall at the Farmer’s Market in Dunedin with Central otago grown garlic, very good


  5. Farmer Baby Boomer says:

    Organic labels mean nothing unless associated with reputable certification or one has personal knowledge of and confidence in growing methods applied.(like those used by my love in her amazing organic veggie garden!)
    HP do I detect a hint of rebellion against the Nats policy on COOL(Country Of Origin Labeling)


  6. homepaddock says:

    Farmer BB – It would be very difficult to list all the different countries for all the ingredients in processed food; but I’m open to the use of COOL for fresh produce.

    When we lived in Spain supermarkets had COOL for fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat which enabled us to buy NZ kiwifruit and apples.


  7. Ed Snack says:

    Generally speaking, despite whatever the organics enthuisiasts will tell you, there is no discernable difference between organic and “conventional” foods, except conventially grown food is usally safer and less contaminated. I might well doubt the efficacy of Chinese standards, perhaps a little testing for common contaminants on a random basis would be effective.


  8. homepaddock says:

    Ed – like you I’m not convinced by the arguments in support of organic food. A freezing worker told me they easily recognise organic lambs because they’re riddled with worms.


  9. Farmer Baby Boomer says:

    That sounds like a sensible solution HP. It’s possible sonething like that may come in without the need for legislation, as more people demand to know where food is sourced from, because of issues with food from certain coumtries. Something similar occured when GE foods started to become available. When there was demand for labeling Supermarkets sought to stock food free of GE ingredients, because they realised that those demanding labeling were looking to buy GE free.


  10. Farmer Baby Boomer says:

    Sorry HP, should have started my 9.26pm comment by making it clear I was refering to your thoughts on COOL

    [Yes, that’s what I thought you meant -HP]


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