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Questions In Need of Answers - No. 2

Last week's Questions In Need of Answers went well, so we decided to try it again this week. Rather than Google for these answers, we put them to the neatoramanaut community. Because you guys are way smarter than Google's algorithms, right?

1. My wife and I have rats living in our garage, which was built in 1924 and has holes throughout it. Other than implodin the garage and building a new one, what's the best way to keep these guys out? There are a couple outdoor cats already living around the neighborhood, who often visit our yard, fyi. We don't ever see the rats, but we find their feces in the dark corners often.

2. We're thinking about going organic, mostly for our son's sake. We've heard all kinds of arguments for and "against." What say you? Worth the extra money? Why? What's been your experience?

3. Anyone watching the new Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, based on Piper Kerman's memoir? We need a new show but have heard mixed reviews about it. In general, we love what Netflix is up to, though, so willing to give it a go just based on their other recent originals.

Image via environmentalgraffiti.com.


3. Anyone watching the new Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, based on Piper Kerman's memoir? We need a new show but have heard mixed reviews about it. In general, we love what Netflix is up to, though, so willing to give it a go just based on their other recent originals.

Yes, watch it! It is excellent!
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2. RE going organic -it's a very personal choice and what is "right" for one person may not be "right" for another. With that being said...when we had kids I consciously made the decision to buy local and/or organic when possible. For me it is about knowing where my food comes from, knowing the growers, and eating in season. In my experience the food actually tastes better when you are eating it in season and it was jsut picked yesterday, at the peak of ripeness. Tomatoes that you find at the mega grocery store are ones which were bred to survive long trips and still look nice. Growers that are able to sell local can grow foods for flavor, rather than their ability to travel. If you have a CSA or something similar in your area, I recommend joining because it will introduce you to vegetables and fruit you might not normally select, and challenge you to figure out how to cook them. Or at least that is my experience. For me it is also important to support the local growers that are still around, because they choose to grow some unusual things and allow me to have more choice in my produce (for example, there are other types of carrots besides orange ones, but you might never know that if you only shopped at the regular grocery store). Are we healthier? I don't know, though I feel healthier just because i am eating more fruit and veg (and also locally grown poultry/meat). Finally, knowing that the food does not have pesticide residue in it or contains GMOs does make me feel better.
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In the past, I've noticed organic food tended to be higher quality. I don't think this is in anywhere inherent in the organic process, but was more a result of the idea that the only places growing organic food were places specializing in higher quality food. But now that it has become a more popular label, there are plenty making food that is organic, but otherwise as cheap as possible, and then there is no quality difference. I've definitely seen studies on there being no difference in the nutrition involved, and additives will affect some products way more than others, with there being non-organic additive free versions sometimes too. So for many foods, if prepared properly or even normally, there would be no difference in the consumption.

In the end, it seems the main argument for organic is environmental, not for the consumer directly. You are potentially paying more to make less impact on the environment (... with plenty of caveats and corner cases where depending on the type of impact most worried about, organic might not be better...)
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As long as we're bugging readers with our personal questions, can someone tell me why I can load Mental Floss on all the computers in my house, but not my laptop? I've cleared the cookies and cache and there's no firewall block. The computer uses the same internet connection as all my other computers.
It all started after they switched to their new site layout earlier this year.
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Everyone has made some good points about organic produce. I've become quite spoiled by eating fresh vegetables out of the backyard garden -they are so much better than anything at the store. Your local farmers market is the next best choice to get produce that's fresh and in season. My family has fallen into eating salads only in summer and loading up on apples in the fall, citrus in winter, and "whatever looks good" in the spring. Plus we have organic green beans and tomatoes year round that come out of jars in the basement.
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Organic foods (by which I am referring to fruit and vegetables - meat is a separate matter) aren't necessarily fresher. Fruit and vegetables taste better when they are fresher regardless of whether they are organic or not. Not all organic foods come from small, independent farmers. Both organic and non-organic foods are produced by both small, independent farmers which sell locally, and large, industrial scale producers, which transport across the country, which leads to another point - organic foods aren't inherently more ethical or supportive of local, independent businesses.

Organic food is not healthier. Organic farmers still use pesticides. They are just natural pesticides, however just because they are natural, it doesn't mean that they are less damaging to your health, and are still often poisonous. Natural poisons are still poisons. Arguing that something is better because it is natural is an example of the naturalistic fallacy. There is also no compelling body of research to suggest that organic foods are more healthful. In fact most of the research suggests there is no substantial difference in nutrition.

Organic food is not more environmentally friendly. Natural pesticides are usually far less effective than synthetic, targeted pesticides and as a result, they have to use far more of it to achieve adequate protection, which leads to higher levels of environmental contamination. Organic crops also produce a lower yield, and so require more land, time, water, fuel, and other recourses to produce the same quantity of equivalent non-organic foods.

Organic food does not taste better. The current scientific consensus based on the literature of double-blinded taste tests of organic vs. non-organic foods suggests that in the majority of cases, neither humans nor animals are able tell the difference between organic and non-organic fruit and veg. Sure there are plenty of people here who will offer anecdotes to the contrary, however they are just that - anecdotes. Anecdotes which are subjective to confirmation bias, and which do not hold true when the appropriate controls are in place.

If you want better tasting fruit and vegetables that support local, independent farmers, buy fresher fruit and vegetables produced by local, independent farmers.
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