3/26/08

Pass the purple carrots, please

I remember in my first week of my broadcast specialization in j-school, we went off to cover a news conference on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Everyone was all up in arms about putting chemicals into our bodies and the move towards organic produce became more prevalent. Unfortunately, that news conference fell on the same day as three airplanes were hijacked and flown into buildings in New York and Washington so it didn’t receive the attention it deserved, but the issue never fell far from the spotlight. But now it seems that designer veggies are in style and no one is batting an eyelash. In fact, people are buying them by the truckload and shelling out $8 a pound for striped beets and spotted cabbages. But how is this any different from the fight against modified organisms from yesteryear? They say they aren’t modified but rather hybrids, but one has to wonder what kind of engineering has to go into the birth of these suckers. I thought we were going back to our natural roots and only looking for grain fed beef, fruit that has fallen from the tree, carrots grown in pesticide-free soils? Now we want couture carrots? Colour me confused. Don’t get me wrong, as I am all for colour on my dinner plate. I am convinced that a rainbow of veggies makes dinner taste better and makes me feel better in the end, but is this going too far? If they don’t add flavour but only visual appeal, I don’t see why we’re going to great lengths (and paying BIG BUCKS) to add some purple and orange to our plate. I can already to do that by adding eggplant and carrot without using a purple carrot or an orange cauliflower. Sorry, you can colour it whatever way you want, I’m still not going to eat the cauliflower. It still tastes like a shoe. Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.
(photo credit: Globe and Mail)

10 comments:

Jen said...

what colour is confused??? Is it striped or spotted? ;p

Whatever happened to just cutting your veggies into pretty shapes...

Randi said...

I wanted to clarify something for you (from my somewhat unclear understanding). Hybrid vegetables and plants are not genetically modified at all. They are just cross-pollinated. They've been doing this for 100s of years. It even happens in nature. Almost all of the vegetables you grow in a garden are hybrids unless you buy the seeds called heritage. It's how carrots became orrange instead of purple like they were in nature I think.

But again, I'm no expert, and it does seem wasteful for research to go into making "pretty" food as opposed to curing disease or whatever.

marie said...

Randi - i said that in my muddled post, even mentioned the word "hybrid", but thanks.

meredi said...

Although I wouldn't be really excited about paying tons of extra money for "designer" vegetables, I'm cognizant of the fact that in the supermarket we get access to only a tiny percentage of the actual varieties of fruits and veggies that are actually available. They've been selected for uniformity, ability to ripen on a truck, etc... with no thought to how nutritious they are.

So based on the fact that they're different colours, I might guess that some of these hybrid veggies would have different combos of phytochemicals and flavonoids as compared to their "original" supermarket versions. Meaning that if you eat them, you might be getting a different mix of nutrients, which is never a bad thing.

I'd be much more inclined to buy these unique veggies at a farmer's market though... where they're actually an heirloom variety or something instead of another industrialized version of a carrot that just happens to be purple. There, like you said, you'd probably experience a different TASTE in addition to the different look, which would be ideal!

If there is actually zero nutritional difference between these pretty vegetables and the original ones, then I'm totally with ya -- waste of money!

Sara said...

I'm sure there is nothing wrong with your regular everyday gardener trying something different in their backyard to come up with something fun. But I'm sure these are not your homegrown hybrids!!

Just a note - grain fed beef is not natural. Cows are forced to eat grains, naturally they eat grass. Crazy huh? I also thought grain fed was the natural way too until I read the Omnivore's Dilema, changed the way I look at food!

marie said...

Thank you for that, Sara :)
I knew I'd screw up somewhere!

Heather said...

Meh, on a student's budget I'm happy when I can afford orange carrots and white cauliflower. ;)

whats the skinny said...

um, i like purple. and purple potatoes really do taste different. but if it's no different in vitamins, what was the point?

Vanessa said...

I guess making pretty vegetables is more important than allocating resources to...I dunno...world hunger? Interesting where some priorities lie.

A Box of Chocolates said...

I was just reading about this! I also heard that vegetables in drinks are going to be the "in" thing such as celery martini. Weird! I'll stick to my veggies (in normal colors) and dip with my strawberry dacquiri, thanks!!!

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