Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Eco Snobbery



"For as long as only the affluent can afford organic food on daily basis, many people will have to maneuver between the supermarket aisles trying to find food that is relatively safe." - Dominique Allmon

I heard it more than once: Organic food is too expensive; Only idiots and snobs spend money on organic products; There is hardly any difference between organic and conventional produce; etc, etc.

So why buy organic? Why bother? 

Organic products are made from natural materials that help us minimize the exposure to toxins and carcinogens, be it in personal care products, household cleaners, wall paint, carpets, furniture, or garments.

Organic foods are produced with traditional organic farming that relies on ancient farming techniques such as crop rotation, natural pest control, compost, and green manure.

Ideally, everything we buy should be chemical free. No one consciously decides to buy produce laced with cancer-causing chemicals, but if produce is so expensive that only very few can afford it, is "conscious" living only for the rich? Is "organic" the new label for social distinction? 

Many people who have never been to stores like the Whole Foods Market would be surprised to find there aisles filled with junk food. Yes, junk food. But it is organic! Organic potato chips made with organic potato. Only for the "enlightened" ones while the ignorant crowd shops at Walmart or some other conventional store.  

The original organic movement was not a fad. It has its roots in an almost mystical reverence for Nature. It began in early 1900s as a response to emerging industrial agriculture and ever growing use of chemicals that resulted in increased occurrence of cancer and other diseases.

Today we somehow assume that organic companies are more ethical than the conventional ones. We want to believe that business decisions are motivated by reverence for nature and not by greed. This may not always be true. Sometimes it looks as if the "organic"  companies venerated the green buck more than anything else. The products are overpriced and the organic certification may seem dubious. Who cares? The snobs would always buy the stuff no matter how expensive it is. They will buy it. If not from a genuine concern for the planet than at least to prove that they are better than anyone else. 

We are living in strange times. We worry about the climate change, we worry about the melting ice caps, we drive electric cars, but we still waste our resources and produce enormous piles of garbage. Our toxic waste ends up in the third world countries where it is conveniently out of sight. 

We may have reached the turning point, but for as long as there is a choice between conventional and organic we will be tapping in the dark. There should be no question of whether the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to daily cause cancer or not; or how much money could be made or saved if the shelf life of a produce was increased to months, years or decades. Things would only change if the right to clean food, clean air and clean water was as important as the right to vote. 

Wishing everyone a consciously peaceful and happy Earth Day - Dominique Allmon

P.S.

I buy organic products whenever I can. I recycle. I try to minimize my ecological footprint. And I do it out of respect for myself and out of respect for the Nature. 

I still remember the time when you could go to a store where everything was safe to eat. I remember the time when you could turn the tap and drink a glass of water without fear that you would get poisoned with countless chemicals. I remember the time when we recycled paper, glass and metal. I remember the time when everyone had a shopping net and plastic bags were a rarity. I remember the time when mineral water was sold in glass bottles. I remember all that as it were only yesterday...

I decided long ago that I will support honest business practices and a hard work of people who dedicate their lives to organic farming and the manufacture of products that last for more than one generation. I hope you would too.

         

         

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Image source unknown, but greatly appreciated