Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 3: Eat Local Project

I've heard the argument recently that purchasing foods from around the globe supports developing economies and is therefore acceptable, even virtuous. It sounds almost plausible. However while working as a journalist in Portland, I covered the city's move to avoid purchasing any goods produced using sweat shop labor. During a rally in support of this decision, I met a woman named Beatriz who worked for Dole in South America. She recounted the familiar tale of long hours for negligible pay echoed from sweat shop and farm workers around the globe. The workers could have improved working conditions by forming a union, but Dole, like other industrial agriculture companies, worked overtime themselves to prevent that from happening.

So what does this mean for you and me? Cheap bananas. Cheap lettuce. Cheap food. When we realize that the inexpensive food we eat comes at great cost to not only the environment but also real people, like Beatriz, it leaves a pretty bitter aftertaste.

Today I ate mostly leftovers--green chile enchiladas, vegan pecan pie cookies and some of the lemon curd stirred into yogurt--while I chewed on the realities of industrial agriculture.

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  1. I've been roasting coffee for two years now and have really seen the difference in communities with fair and direct trade in place. We, as consumers, buy so much power with our money, and can do so much good with it :) It does take more work, and it does weed out options (like no Indian Monsooned Malabar or Jamaica Blue Mountain beans for me), but what a difference it makes to those we choose to be aware of!

  2. Thanks for your input, Tracy! Let's chat over email about your coffee roasting business. I want to hear more.