business news in context, analysis with attitude

I had a piece before we all went on vacation about how Mrs. Content Guy had a negative reaction – in the extreme – to reports about how some tilapia and shrimp in China were being raised in highly polluted ponds and then given antibiotics to keep them alive and saleable. Which led one MNB user to write:

Hear, Hear! I am a Mrs. Content kinda girl and our household would applaud the retailer (or government) that stepped to the plate and provided full disclosure of our food ingredients and sources. This household now flatly distrusts those who wish to withhold this disclosure and we no longer buy into industry self regulation. (Why would we be having these COOL and Chi-tox dialogues if self-regulation was working?). Regulation takes poisonous decisions and blissful ignorance out of the decision process and makes the food chain industry a more responsible group. We honestly haven't
done well with autonomy and self-rule and clearly put cost factors over bigger picture responsibility factors. Ultimately, we still have a lot of food choices, and if we can't trust the labeling and the sources, we then err on the side of playing the odds and just limit what we buy to fewer, simpler foods. Grocery trips for this household have become risk assessments and purchase decisions follow. We find it isn't all that hard to conjure our own salad dressing, forego the prepared baked goods and crackers, and forget
about the sea-of-ingredient items like prepared soups, packaged mixes, etc.

We know we can't control it all and it is highly probable we can't cut out all the crap in our food, but, you know, we think we are more responsible and in control of our health and bodies by limiting the obvious higher risk items and we can try to cut down the crap we consume. It means more of our meals are the fresh veggies from the certified local farmer's market, domestic or European old world style cheeses and less meats, etc. and not the myriad of prepared food options, frozen pizzas, lasagnas, etc.

“A Mrs. Content Kinda Girl”? Sounds like a country western song…

But seriously, I think that self-regulation always is preferable…but it means that the industry has to show real leadership, not just real resistance. (Which was sort of the point of this morning’s opening essay…)

Regarding ethanol, one MNB user wrote:

Most people don’t realize that the ethanol business is in its infancy. It has a ways to go. However, the new technologies that are being studied make it much more sustainable. New ethanol plants are already being built that will easily be able to be converted to the new technologies when they are perfected. The U of M currently is developing a process in which the spent mash and other by-products can be used as fuel for ethanol production instead of using natural gas or other fossil fuels. The process looks like it will be so efficient that the ethanol production facilities will be completely run on production by-products with excess energy to be sold back to the major utility companies. There are also the emerging technologies of using grass and other natural products to product ethanol.

I think people who are completely rejecting the ethanol industry at this point in its development are guilty of not applying your “Old Fart’s Rule”.

That rule, for MNB newcomers, says the following:

“The likelihood of an innovation succeeding increases exponentially with the number of old farts who refuse to endorse it.”

It seems to me that at this juncture, when it comes to preserving the environment and conserving energy, I’d be willing to try anything. Innovation, it seems to me, tend to be generated not by resolute pessimism, but by innate optimism.

Achieving the latter, not the former, seems like a pretty good New Year’s resolution.

KC's View: