Genetically engineered produce is not one of Joyce Goldstein's favorite subjects. Still, she has become known for her stand against it.
``I'm not opposed to science, I'm opposed to agribusiness - if I could make it as simple as that,'' she says.
``In an economy such as ours, we want to support the small organic farmer who grows multicrops, who keeps the soil alive, who provides lots of different things for us.
``I'm opposed to agribusiness where one company gets very rich and puts these little guys out of business who are growing other things for us.''
The argument in favor of genetically engineered produce centers around control. A tomato designed to be pest-resistant, frost-resistant, and have a long shelf life, for example, would certainly be more reliable and prevent a lot of crop damage, and therefore be more profitable.
But is produce for sculpture or for eating? Goldstein asks. ``My whole theory is that you buy it, you cook it, you eat it; or you buy it, then you eat it. You don't preserve it.''
Not long ago, someone gave Goldstein a few genetically engineered tomatoes. ``We ate one right away, tasted it next to an organic tomato. It was very sweet, it had no acid balance at all, and it was very red. It was certainly better than those pink-gassed, cotton tomatoes - no question that it's a better product than that. But it wasn't as good as one of our organic tomatoes. So you could say `Yes, that's progress, it's better than the supermarket green golf ball that gets gassed.' But it was not as good as a real summer tomato, and I wanted to leave it at that.
``But then I just kept one on my desk as a paperweight - it's supposed to have a long shelf life. And after two months, it started to wrinkle. We finally cut into it. The flavor had flattened out of course, but it hadn't rotted; it had the anti-rot gene....''
Goldstein says safety is not the issue, it's flavor, quality, and supporting sustainable agriculture.
``I also believe in seasons, which is the essence of the Mediterranean diet,'' she says. Certain foods are best eaten in the spring, summer, winter, or fall - not 365 days of the year, she points out. ``In that sense I am old-fashioned.''