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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

WEEKLY Q: Local, organic or ethical?

When you shop in what order of importance do you place the organic, local and ethical goals?

For example: would you pick the local option, the organic option from the other side of the world or the fairtrade, but not organic, option from the other side of the world?

For me I aim for local first as reducing food miles are most important in my opinion. Then I choose the ethical option if local is not available. Finally I go for organic if local and ethical options are unavailable.

Local wins for me because food miles, and the carbon emissions they produce, affect us all. Next come ethical choices, i.e. Fairtrade, as they directly affect the lives of others. Last for me is the organic option as they predominantly affect my own body first and others and the environment where the produce was grown to a lesser degree than ethical or local selections effect the bigger picture. Murky and subjective but how do you like them apples?

What do you think? What order do you place them in and why?




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At 1:24 PM, Blogger Mrs Moo said...

Fairtrade food does aim to be organic where at all possible. I know a lot of the food they sell in Oxfam is both Fairtrade & Organic.

As for the local, ethical, organic . . . hard question. Probably organic/fairtrade joint first then local. Depends on what it is I am buying for example I can buy local, organic tomatoes but not bananas so my chice then is organic or fairtrade.

The main thing is we, as consumers are making a conscious decision about what we are investing our money and our health into! And are asking where our fodd comes from and what conidtions is it produced in.

At 8:07 PM, Blogger bethanie_odd said...

I chose local seasonal first, then organic and then fairtrade. Like you I chose local because of emissions. I also chose it because I want to support my local farmers and economy. Then there is the fact that my body is living in a certain climate and I want foods that match the season my body is in so that I am energeticly balanced with my environment. Then I chose organic because I am not sure what the process is in delivery and transport waste with both organic and fairtrade but I do know what I am injesting. I strive to have both though.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Katie@ethicalweddings said...

It is difficult because organic isn't just a bonus for us, the consumer, but also for the people growing the organic produce as they will not be exposed to harmful pesticides (especially important in cotton production which uses tons of pesticides). But I would choose local organic over, say, New Zealand organic, and would generally choose local (non-organic) over 'other side of the world' organic. And Fairtrade organic is great - perfect for things like bananas that we cannot grow here.

Dilemmas! But I think as long as we are thinking about these issues before we chuck the tomatoes in the basket, that's the main thing!

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Gernot H. said...

No doubt about that -
organic wins by far. If it's local organic, the better, but I don't support the local farmers if they use pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs or in general are in factory farming. Can't support this! Then, local is of no value for me!
In contrast organic farming empowers farmers all over the world in sustainable agriculture. They and their family benefit, the animals benefit, the soil benefits, the environment benefits and last but not least the consumer benefit.
And it is hard to define "local" - some say, the main advantage gets lost if it is farther away than 12(!) miles, and it is difficult, to get all the food within a radius of only some miles.
So buy organic (seasonal is cheaper) but look for local organic food.

Fairtrade is something different - it's the way trade should be!
But it's a delicate matter and there are different problems involved with the current labeling system, though this should be no excuse - buy fairtrade whenever you can.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger merrick said...

I agree with the other commenters that organic isn't just about your own health.

Non-organic farming involves vast quantities of fertilisers and pesticides that are very energy intensive to manufacture and whose raw materials are often oil and gas.

As such, local chemical farming is a lot less sustainable and may well involve a lot more fossil consumption than long-distance organic.

A survey in the USA showed fod contains around 6 calories from oil for every one derived from the sun.

Still very reluctant to buy anything that's been flown, mind.

And if - as the supermarkets offer - the choice is between UK chemical spuds or organic Israeli ones, i'd go for the UK.

Fortunately, there are local veg box schemes that mean we don't have an either/or choice.


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