Farmer's Markets and Efficiency

I generally try to use SANNET only for info requests, and not
proselytizing, but I couldn't resist this one.

I believe that one of the fundamental mistakes that the environmental
movement has made is its exaltation of efficiency, and that the salvation
of the world lies in mandated higher efficiency.  Our creative nature and
reasonable desire to produce and purchase an excess of goods for ourselves
and our insecurities, will always thwart mandated standards for efficiency,
pollution prevention, etc.

Unforunately, Technology, Transportation, and corporate consolidation have
enabled us to transact business with little or no regard to the impacts and
true costs of our buying habits.  How many of us would have bought our last
television set if we had to travel to the Mexican border and buy it from
the woman who assembled it?  How many of us could stand to buy a shirt from
a 7 year old girl in China who works 12 hours a day?  How many of us would
buy lettuce from a produce stand where the fields of farm workers wearing
moon suits were visible?  I suspect that one of the few ways to encourage
people to put their ethics into action is to make the contradictions
between their beliefs and their actions more apparent.  I suspect that all
us would buy less and impact the environment less if we knew what we were

This is where the local aspect is so important.  While it may sound like a
conservative cliche, the most effective regulatory agent we have is the
individual's conscience.  When we transact business with producers, instead
of voices on the phone, catalogs, salespeople, and multinational
corporations, it forces us to recognize the producer's humanity.  In
addition, the local relationship involves a shared interest in maintaining
the local area's social and environmental integrity.  We know "who's
polluting the creek," and "who's business could use some additional
support." In addition, the producer has a greater stake in being a good
steward to maintaining a profitable relationship with the consumer.  This
dynamic is clearly not at work when we transact business with producers
2,000 miles away.  Clearly, as the Dalai Lama says, that while the
enlightenment of the individual may be the long journey to justice, it is
the only way.

One of the impacts of being forced to interact with the actual producer is
that it encourages the producer and consumer to develop an equitable price
for products based on their mutual value systems.  Granted, this raises the
price for many goods that have historically been produced by slaves.  This
reduces the pool of money and time available to dedicate to purchasing
other consumer goods, which in turn reduces the general rate of
consumption.  Perhaps if we relied more on each other instead of the stock
market, the concept of "growth" wouldn't be so important.

Clearly, our tendency to placate our insecurities with consumption instead
of community or spiritual pursuits is a task that we all have to deal with.
The house payment needs to be made.  However, we have begun to prioritize
short term wants over long term needs and our duty to treat one another and
the earth  with respect.  I believe that cultivating personal
relationships, like the farmer-consumer relationship, is one of the first
steps of confronting the schisms between our values and actions.  I would
like to think that once we can begin to treat one another like humans,
instead of a means to a knick-knack, we can begin the collective tasks of
defining and and pursuing our truly common goals of long term environmental
and social sustainability.

I vote "Thumbs up" on the local aspect, irregardless of the efficiency

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
Sean McGovern
PO Box 82234 Columbus Ohio 43202
(ph) 614/294-3663
(fx) 614/291-3276

For Organic Certification services in Ohio, call Certification Coordinator,
Sylvia Upp at 419/853-4060