Organic beer. I came across it at the supermarket a few months ago, and picked up a six-pack. I don’t recall the brand. I was disappointed with the beer, and mentioned it to one of my home brewer friends, who informed me that what I thought was a craft beer was actually made by Anheuser-Busch. Yes, the Budweiser people. So I was unsurprised at the point that the product disappointed. But I was surprised to realize, in my concious mind, that when I buy organic (especially for premium dollars), what I really want is… small organic.
Now that’s not to say that AB and others should shy away from organics. Good for them. And I recognize that I may be idealistic. But I did feel deceived, and in fact I am now quite certain that it was Big Food’s intention that I be deceived. After reading Food Politics by Marion Nestle (an excellent book), I guess I should have known.
So I started a little research and came across the most interesting site of Philip Howard at Michigan State. Wow, what great work this is. And the graphics are phenomenal; they are consistent with the teachings of Edward Tufte, who teaches a short course that changed the way I communicate.
Take a look at the chart above. Does it change the way you feel about the contents of your kitchen? It did for me. Did you know that if Starbucks was on the chart above, there would be an arrow to Seattle’s Best? At least that relationship is more or less disclosed. Many of the others seem downright sneaky, the sneakiest of which being executed by Heinz and Cargill.
I think Eliot Coleman got it right in his 2001 Mother Earth News article.
Happy Easter if that’s a holiday you celebrate.