La Vie En Rose for 2008 April 10 (entry 0)

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[Comments] (3) QOD: What's more important, buying free trade or buying organic?

Discuss. Link me. Just don't tell me it's all a sham. I'd like to hold onto some of my idealism.


Posted by Seb at Thu Apr 10 2008 21:52

Buying organic, but it's a tough question. I'd choose 'both' as an answer, but you didn't give that as an option.

So, if you're buying organic you're looking out for yourself. No artificial crap pumped into animals, no nerve agents sprayed across your vegetables. Better for you, better for livestock. Well, until they die.

If you're buying fair trade (I assume you mean fair trade, and you're not simply advocating an open market economy) you're looking out for others. Making a commitment to improved working conditions and fair recompense for the people who provide your food. The sort of trust relationship that an ideal society should be based on. Let's all hug.

So, I choose organic on the basis that being around longer and healthier means you can spend more time buying fair trade and doing good for other people. Also organic wine gives me less of a hangover, and that's important.

Posted by Joe Walch at Fri Apr 11 2008 16:39

I'd Say Free Trade hands down (although I suspect, like the previous commenter that you probably meant Fair trade as well--in which case, i'd also prefer fair trade over organic).

Organic Cons:
1) there is no real evidence that it's healthier, and some evidence that it might be harmful (e.g. higher content of mycotoxins in vegtables from not irradiating to kill microbes causing possible autoimmune/immune problems). I am also pro-genetic engineering. If it's good enough for diabetics and cancer patients, it's good enough for my tomato. I also feel that 'organic' is just another yuppie status symbol akin to walking into the office with a starbucks coffee cup or wearing prada pumps.
2) Often 'Organic' is simply used to exclude other markets. The EU is notorious for this kind of trade restrictions--and that can hurt African farmers who can't produce on the scale of established 'organic' producers in europe.
3) the global warming thing. The 'Organic' label can limit developing countries who can't pay up-front costs of 'sustainable' farming that is required for them to enter the market. transportation also limits the developing farmer in Africa from selling in Europe because of the higher CO2 costs of transporting that pretty much eliminates the 'organic' label from being applied since they use so much CO2 in transportation.

In summary, I think I'd align up with Bono in placing the emphasis on world poverty through Fair and Free trade programs rather than being preoccupied that somebody breeded a crop of corn to be the same height or using UV light to kill microbes on apples so that they last longer and contain fewer toxins.

Posted by Joe Walch at Fri Apr 11 2008 16:43

I also think it's ludicrous that Europe has so bullied Africa to the extent that Zimbabwe can't even accept free U.S. foods because the foods are genetically modified. The relative risk of genetically modified foods is insignificant to the risk and health cost of starvation.

I hope I'm not being too strident.

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