10.11.2006

IDEA SIXTEEN: Transparent Organic




In light of the e.coli scares going on throughout the country it seems the only way farmers will be able to win back the trust of consumers is to offer 100% transparency with regard to their food production process. By suiting up their farms and processing areas with a multitude of webcams, these companies will be able to put their leafy greens where their mouth is when it comes to guarantying the wholesome cleanliness that is the hallmark of the “organic” lifestyle.

There would be cameras on the fields where the produce grows or where the animals graze on healthy, chemical free grass. There would be cameras on those who cultivate the young plants, as well as upon those who fertilize them (hopefully without deady, e.coli carrying manure) and there would be cameras on the harvesters, the washers and packagers….

In turn the personalities of the workers would be given the chance to shine: the planters and huskers and slicer and dicers would have their own blogs and IM handles…they could become innernet stars like the rest of us losers, with customers emailing them directly from the webcam links. By accepting a job at these farms they agree to sacrifice work time privacy for possible innernet. They would also be indirectly responsible for bringing America back to its farming roots—this time as spectator consumers.

This is not to say that in order to feel safe the customer would feel obliged before each purchase to check in on each and every one of the many possible employees who could have a hand in creating their product…although the opportunity is there for the neurotics among us. The idea of a “disseminated watch” should be promoted instead, by which I mean that the possibility alone of anyone checking in at any time should already allay the fears of most hopelessly busy and hopelessly well-meaning American consumers. The packages of food (be it triple-washed fresh spinach or turkey burgers) would come with a corresponding number to plug into the transparency search engine, thereby guaranteeing a window on to the exact farm or ranch where the food was produced, meaning, the possibility to bond with those who grow your food would be real—imagine, emailing the person who saws off the cow rump for your rump roast? Or reading the blog adventures of the pilot of a crop duster airplane? By spending the money to not only put their employees online but to give them the tools to become innernet stars as well, these corporations (and I’m thinking especially of the hipper than thou, tech-savvvy organic food industry) would gain the trust of an ever-curious public. I know I’d feel better if the people who pluck the fruit I eat had cameras on them throughout their entire shift, ready and able to capture each and every work and non-work related movement. We’d be able to time how long they wash their hands and count how many times they scratch their crotch. We’d know whether they smile and whistle while they work or if they’re just barely making it thru their shift. In return for the sacrifice of their privacy, the workers would have an audience who listens to what they have to say. They could talk about their day and their lives…their hopes and dreams and fears of languishing, like so much overripe fruit, at their current, lowly rung in the agricultural industry.

I know Saturn had a similar kind of idea in the 90s, by which you received a letter with a picture included of the actual assembly line crew who built the car you bought. The vibe was all about being a part of a large, extended family…the assembly line folks sent invitations for cookouts and country fairs…the idea being that it was more than a car that they were selling—but a whole way of life. A big bright personalized existence. I guess my version of the idea is from the opposite perspective…a personalized existence built out of necessity—a way of being that is one part suspicious and two parts cautious, not unlike like the American suburbs and exburbs.

As with my mashup/mixup s/w idea, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened yet. Well, maybe not THAT surprised, as I AM a genius after all. (C'mon BG, get off yr tush and hire my smarty pants ass!!!)I’m thinking it won’t be long, though. Soon I’ll be waving my “gently pasteurized” blueberry juice in front of a plasma screen and the exact robot manned conveyor belt upon which the crushed and battered fruit were unceremoniously shat into plastic bottles will come into view, along with the workers manning the controls. I’d be able to look into their faces while I sipped, feeling that special glow that comes from watching a day in a life that’s not mine and probably never will be.


6 Comments:

Blogger simpleton said...

Maybe if you get curious you could log onto youtube or foodtube or something, plug that serial number in and watch a video montage of your carrot seed being planted in the field, growing, being harvested, washed, packaged, shipped, handled, received by a restaurant, prepared for your salad, put on a plate, right up to the minute you got it.

10:31 PM  
Blogger nk said...

I don't want to supervise the people who grow my coffee. That's precisely the reason that I enjoy buying coffee. But, on the other hand, perhaps I should.

I like the idea of opening up a network with the workers. But I doubt if any worker would agree to it if they were being watched. I know I certainly wouldn't. I like my privacy in the warehouse where I work.

2:19 PM  
Blogger TRUE said...

i like my privacy too...tho i know it's mostly an illusion.

maybe you could hire a factory full of aspiring actors?

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't work in front of a webcam without my pay being irrationally doubled or raised in accordance with the profit made from it.

Farmhands are told to piss on the vegetables, not to waste any water, and pesticides are needed in today's parasitic environment, no one wants to see that.

We're getting weaker, at one point we could stomach raw meat.

US farmers would need assistance to expand their operation, too much competition. Socialist laws to nationalize our food production and discourage import would make your idea possible.

The bad parsley came from Mexico c/o their water.

11:28 PM  
Blogger unRat said...

working in front of a webcam .. ?

there's already an industry doing that .. the porno industry.

3:52 PM  
Blogger TRUE said...

i think yr pay would be raised in reflection of the profits that would be made...

it's all about the melons, unrat. whether yr growin em or shakin em on a webcam.

4:26 PM  

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