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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Elkydoggygog is exactly right. It's an ethical point. Growing stuff without the use of petroleum and chemicals is a good thing. There are certainly issues surrounding its practicability, but the concept is not simply new-age gobblygook, as Cowdery would have it seem. That's absurd. Also, if a product says "organic" on a label, it has been grown and processed under conditions that are pretty strict.

    The point about genetic engineering is an interesting one as well. There is an ethical component here as well--I don't like the idea of manipulating genetics for yield, etc., and choose non-modified foods when I can.

    As someone above noted, the corn we use today is radically different from that used 200 years ago--it's certainly nice to be able to go get a dozen clean, sweet and bug-free ears from the local farmstand to accompany my hamburgers. However, I would imagine that the type of corn used might radically change the taste of a bourbon. You could fit what I know about distillation in a shotglass, but think about the difference between the generic tomato you purchase at the supermarket, wrapped in plastic and shipped green, and the Brandywines or Cherokee Purples you take from the garden. There is just no comparison--the latter exhibit all the good "tomatoey" qualities that make this fruit kick ass. Wouldn't using heirloom strains of corn, rather than high-yield and pest-resistant but thin in character grains, perhaps result in desireable characteristics? After all, the difference between Budweiser and Sam Adams is not only in the recipe, or how/where they are brewed and aged, but in the quality of the ingredients, right? Boston Brewing is not using the same hops as A-B . . .

  2. #32
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Toronto, Canada
    Well, you could grow an intensively bred modern corn in an "organic" fashion and an "heirloom" variety in a modern way with heavy use of nitrogen fertilizers. I don't know what variety BT used for Rain. But certainly an heirloom type might give more flavor. We had a discussion here some time ago that pancakes made from coloured corn (e.g. blue corn) and certain other heirloom types tasted like night and day from ordinary corn pancakes. I wonder what kind of corn was used by Samuel M'Harry to distill in 1810. I would think this information must be known, i.e., by agronomers, agricultural historians, etc.

    Last edited by Gillman; 06-27-2006 at 14:36.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Charleston, SC
    I would agree with Gary that an heirloom variety of anything may be more flavorful. Varieties of vegetables grown on a commercial scale are typically selected for their ability to survive transport from field to the consumer's table. In my opinion, taste has been sacrificed for the sake of robustness and surviving travel.

    Finding out the variety of corn used in the 1810 mashbill could be interesting -although I bet it could prove difficult to compare to the varieties used in todays' mashbills, as that is probably propriety information.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Moscow Mills, MO
    POS = Power of suggestion. We see something labeled as special and we pay extra for it and WANT it to be better so it is in many cases to us. But is it actually better or just different? In the case of Gary's organic juice, is it the fact that it's organic or the way it's processed that makes the taste unique? Or even maybe a different strain of tomato used? We want to say organic because that's what we've always been told. Personally, I'm with all of you who say that veggies from your own garden taste better than store bought. And why? I think a lot has to do with the fact that most of the time they are fresh off the vine, out of the soil, etc. Anytime you pick a fruit or vegetable you have seperated it with the rest of the organism that is promoting it's life cycle and it begins to deteriorate, slowly at first, but then that begins to accellerate. Because they use no preservatives, organic foods must be rushed to the market faster than their more common generic types and are therefore have had less time to deteriorate. That's my theory, anyway. Seems like some of it might be retained from my food science classes years ago but I can't be sure.
    I don't drink to excess. But I'll drink to most anything else.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I've been skimming through this thread about organic vs Non Organic and I think a lot of it boils down to the quality of the process by which the product is created. I believe Jeff stated this earlier. Someone else was talking about organic coffee being better than say Folgers. I'd say that's the same as comparing small batch premium bourbon to Beam White. Also the use of organics as an ethical decision. I went through a master's program in Biomedical ethics and somehow I wouldn't call organics an ethical question, strictly speaking. Its a decision and a commitment to a lifestyle. Yes, products extremely dangerous to the environment shouldn't be used to excess where it becomes damaging, but I don't believe that's ethics, in my mind, its common sense. Voltaire said, "Common Sense is anything but common." But it still exists. From what I've read in journals there are many others who agree with me. (As well as some who disagree.)
    But back to our real topic, Frankly I'm not very interested in purchasing an organicly made whiskey. I typically buy superpremium whiskeys and from what I've read on this site nearly every other person here drinks them as well. I want the highest quality product that I can get (for the money) and if thats organic that's fine if it's GM that's fine too. I just want it to be good. I want the base grain to be of the highest quality however that grain is created I'm not too concerned as long as its the best and well ast least remotely safe.

    Think Green. Go Yellow. Ethanol Rules. That's why I drink bourbon. I'm helping to save the world.

    To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

  6. #36
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    In addition to what I've said in this thread already, let me add that as far as every single American whiskey producer is concerned, corn is corn. It's not a quality issue. To quote me (page 8), "grain is really a commodity. All of the distilleries use U.S. No. 2 grade corn and similar standard issue rye and wheat. They all buy from the same suppliers."

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Japan, (American)
    I want to jump in here,but to write everything I have to say is too daunting a task. It would be a short book before I was finished and I would revise my opinion in important ways six or eight times before I finished.

    First, Organic is a magic word and can change one's perception dramatically. In other threads I have mentioned that I was once very interested in essential oils. I remember nosing two bottles of cedar essential oil in a shop and trying to decide which one to purchase. A salesperson came up and told me, "See, this one is Organic! It's more powerful!" And we all know how much cedar farms rely on chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.... The organic cedar oil was more expensive and I didn't like it as much so I didn't buy it. However, I am sure that many others Much Preferred the organic product. I am sure that, for them, it had more 'power' than the other oil. Magical thinking isn't rational, but it is powerful. Put a sprig of parsley on the plate and the steak tastes better. It's true. Thousands of tons of the stuff in used in just this way in restaurants all over the world. Hardly anyone eats it. (I often do.) Those restaurateurs know what they are doing, know that it makes a difference in the way their customers perceive the food they eat, brings them back for more, but it has nothing to do with flavoring the steak. It is 'magic.'

    Ps. No, I am not anti-organic.
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Northern California
    My .02 cents.

    I can't understand why people are singling out organic producers as somehow using a magic name to fool people to sell product. Food companies have been doing this for decades and they do it everyday with packaging, advertising, etc. What you term "Magical Thinking" is better known as "Marketing".

    I could say "Koser" is a b.s. mumbo jumbo magic too. Some mfgs have a pretty big customer base that wants Koser and they follow the Koser process and put Koser on the Label. Is Koser Better? Will YOU pay more for Koser? Same goes for non-Bgh, etc.

    Non of these have hard science behind them that they are in fact "better" or "More Healthly". They are just different and for a certain customer base.

    These companies follow rules set by the FDA as to what guidelines have to be met to put a claim on a label. Even if you think Organic is bunk, you still know that mfg followed some process to be able to put Organic on the label.

    Anyone remember the "low carb" craze?

    Hundreds of companies slung out these products simply capitalizing on the phrase "low carb". Some were good (taste and health wise) but most were bad, taste and health wise. They simply contained low carbs, but could be loaded with trans fats, salts, sugars, etc.

    On top of that, in the last 20+ years most major food manufacturers has created cheaper and cheaper and also unhealthier products by using cheaper ingredients. But they've spent money on packaging and advertising to drive people to buy those cheap products.

    bottom line:

    Organic costs more because producers use higher costing ingredients and they must adhere to stricter process than non-organic that costs the mfg more. Same as Koser, etc.

    This increased cost is what we call "value added". Something the consumer is willing to pay a premium for, when compared to the base product. Organic milk vs. non-organic milk. Koser vs. Non Koser.

    Distributors and retail chains also take their markup.THey get their % accross the board and mfgs don't tell them how much to mark up. You can be assured that when something like organic gets hot, distributors and retailers will mark it up much more than a mfg. Mfg are usually held to strict pricing guidelines regarding timeframes for changing prices.

    There are good tasting Organic products.

    There are bad tasting Organic products.

    There are well run organic and non-organic companies that are not opportunist but put out great quality products.

    There are badly run organic and non-organic companies that are more opportunist and willing to cut corners for the quick dollar.
    Last edited by NorCalBoozer; 06-29-2006 at 11:06.
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

  9. #39
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Toronto, Canada
    I think every situation is different and the customer is entitled to decide what to buy and whether the advertising claims are valid. Recently I bought some Lay's chips I liked, they seemed less salted than usual and less greasy. Then I looked at the label, they had in fact half the amount of salt normally used and instead of trans fat (or whatever the "bad" kind is) they used a better kind, and less. The claims were evidently true and I would buy them again. I tend to give business a fair amount of credence, it is bound by fairly strict advertising laws (here and in the U.S.) and I think the consumer gets a better break and more choice from big business (although there are 1000's of medium and small companies in the food businesses too) than elsewhere in the world (the EU excepted which has similarly stringent rules). So people pay their money and decide. I know that tomato juice was great and I will buy it again, whatever the cause of its quality. The shrivelled lettuce said to be organic, that tasted worse than regular lettuce, that I also bought last week, well I won't buy that again. Kosher is different than organic because it is a set of food preparation rules, which are faith-grounded, as are the halal rules for Moslems. As you said there are large markets for those, and not just in those communities (e.g., as I see from the ubiquity of Mogen David wine which is Kosher wine). If the extra rules to make foods and drinks comply are followed the non-ethnic companies get a few more sales points out of it and that's fine. The point I am trying to make is the tremendous flexibility and fundamental fairness of the market system. The system is responsive to demand, to peoples' choices; that is why there are increasing ranks of organic products in supermarkets. Where business plays fast and loose with the rules, they run the risk of legal sanction, or public opprobrium through adverse publicity. In different types of economies you don't get that, the public there eats what is put on the shelves and doesn't have input into what is sold. Finally, I think we all would agree the consumer has responsibility, to think about what he is buying and to take with a grain of salt some advertising. All products need to be promoted and there is an element of exaggeration almost by definition in a lot of advertising. But people know that or should know that and all in all I feel we have a better, more informed system in terms of what we eat (and otherwise) than anywhere else I know outside the EU.

    Last edited by Gillman; 06-29-2006 at 13:10.



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