Butler County Times Gazette
  • Germinations: Are there any ‘bad’ vegetables?

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  • Productivity, death spiral and social media: How do they relate?
    Social media is great for getting messages out quickly and influencing public opinion. Unfortunately, more often than not, the message gets lost in translation when people insert their personal biases.
    Recently, a nationally recognized chef blogged a list of vegetables that, in his opinion, are bad for consumption. First on the list was lettuce because it has no flavor or nutritional value. The reason it is bad, though, is because we over-apply calorie-rich salad dressing to compensate for the lack of flavor.
    Also on the list, along with onions, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, were vegetable chips and spinach dip. I don’t know where you can purchase spinach dip seed; perhaps it is available through social media.
    Ignoring, for a second, government recommendations that we include all types of vegetables in our daily meals, these vegetables are good for us. Lettuce contains vitamins A, B6, C and K, iron and manganese, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Pouring on too much salad dressing, frying vegetables and mixing spinach with sour cream and mayonnaise are not the vegetables' fault.
    The chef’s argument for potatoes being bad is that farmers are genetically modifying them. It is true that the multinational companies are developing genetically modified vegetables, including potatoes, but I do not believe that farmers in Idaho and Maine are sitting in their barns splicing genes.
    However, American farmers have to feed the masses; they need to be more productive. Harvesting higher yields with less labor is how Wall Street measures productivity and unfortunately how farmers pay off their bank loans.
    New equipment is bigger, faster and literally runs on its own. The operator dials in the field coordinates on the GPS, presses the “go” button and reads a book, sends texts and blogs while the equipment does the work.
    But something has to be done about those super weeds the bigger and faster machines are harvesting along with the food grains.
    Dow Agro Science manufactures the herbicide Enlist Duo that contains 2,4-D and glyphosate. The 2,4-D chemical has been around since it was first synthetically manufactured in 1945 and glyphosate (better known by its trade name Roundup) since the 1970s. In order to use Enlist Duo in the field, vegetables have to be resistant to both herbicides. No problem — on Aug. 6 the Department of Agriculture announced the approval of three new varieties of genetically modified corn and soybeans that can tolerate it.
    In doing so, it acknowledged that growing Enlist Duo-tolerant crops and the application of Enlist Duo will likely lead to more super weeds and super pests. It knows we need to break our dependency on chemicals to sustain food crops but it does not have a solution. That is referred to as a death spiral.
    Page 2 of 2 - According to some social media, people are willing to pay the extra price for GMO-free vegetables. For my part, I will continue to grow my own vegetables and pull weeds by hand.
    Peter Coppola is a master gardener. Write to him at mastergardener@rcn.com.

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