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Re: In praise of consumption

Mike Goodman wrote:
> back into the fray. . .
> Yikes! a flurry of fine responses, and yet i would like to take this
> further one more step to see if my lack of enthusiasm for basing this
> sustainag/organic movement on consumption (because this is what some of
> the first posts *seemed* to be applying) can get trounced any more (since
> i was only trying to draw attention to the lack of this in our discussion
> and not advocating NOT addressing consumption issues. . .on the contrary,
> etc). I think, and forgive me, i
> was bringing both a much larger scale perspective and political project to
> denouncing the "cult of consumption". I guess i shy away from promoting
> the consumption end of organics/sustainag for three main reasons.
>     One,
> while CSAs, farmer's markets, local food ways, etc are the way we should
> be doing things, the consumption of organic products in the mainstream is
> generally
> only for those that can afford it cause the price is so damn high. I WANT
> to buy organics all the time but i can't cause im a poor student and
> havent made connections in the community to get CSA stuff (my fault, I
> know)
> There is a  "marketplace of Ideas", but it seems only if you can afford
> it. It
> costs money to be a "hippie" for the majority of people who dont have
> access to any sort of local sustainag markets.
>      Second,
> if one looks internationally (and its hard not to these days and we need
> to look
> both locally AND globally to institute sustainag changes), two issues
> surrounding consumption need to be addressed. First, why is it that
> certified organic producers in 3rd world countries send the majority of
> their products to the US, Japan, and the EU? Because only we can afford
> it,
> that's why. Is this a problem in the scale of things? Apparently those in
> the international organic industry don't
> really worry about local consumption/local production issues like we do in
> Wisconsin. Secondly, what does it mean to promote changing consumption
> patterns to include an organic banana or sugarcane grown on a plantation
> where the workers, who may or may not be mostly female get $2 a day or
> less? Sure Generic Joe (gendered neutral) is buying organic and saving the
> earth, but are
> they changing the usual labor patterns associated with the production of
> these tropical crops? Is Generic Joe (gendered neutral)
> "negotiating a new meaning"
> around food when that stuff has been shipped halfway around the globe,
> trucked to the market and paraded as an "exotic" fruit for his/her
> consumption? (and adding a few women to a CSA or local garden does NOT
> address gender issues in agriculture)
>     Third, I get awfully afraid that the "corporate hawks" are going to
> swoop even more now that people are changing consumption patterns and
> buying certified organics which, incidently, producers can charge more for
> (and yes i understand that price is as much about demand as about the
> different production methods for organic products). Indeed, if one is to
> look at some of the stuff going on in the organic industry in California,
> agri-bus is getting themselves intrenched at all levels of production.
> Similarly, from my own experience in Costa Rica, Heinz was prowling the
> organic food conference and trade fair i was at looking to get into the
> banana puree business for baby food. does all this mean something? does it
> matter how and who produces and controls organic food/sustainag, as long
> as people buy it and eat it? unfortunatly, i think it does.
>         Not that i was accused of this, but i was in NO WAY trying to
> shoot down people trying to DO something, whelther that be changing
> consumption patterns or whathaveyou. I promote changing consumption
> patterns all the time in the classroom talking about this stuff. Rather, I
> am trying to point out what is missed by overly promoting consumption
> (through famous people or whatever) and not addressing production and all
> complexities surrounding the relationship between the two.
> cheers from one more armchair quarterback,
> Mike Goodman
> Geography Department
> University of Oregon
 Just a couple of comments from the original flamer ( I apologize to T
Wittman if he thought I was truly trying to demean him). I merely
questioned the 90210 approach. Well anyway, I contend that instead of
saying one cannot afford to eat organic that we should understand we
cannot afford to not eat organic. Your paying the same for
conventionally raised food the only difference being that alot of the
costs are delayed or hidden. The cost of conventionally raised fruit
does not rise when the water treatment plant has to recharge it's
activated  carbon sooner because of pesticide contamination. The price
of a pound of porkchops doesn't increase when a rural water supply has
to relocate its well as a result of nitrate contamination from a
confined feeding operation, the price of a loaf of conventionally raised
bread doesn't go up when a relative learns they have a cancerous tumor
on their liver, and we don't see a rise in the price of corn flakes when
we lose a species of pollinator. We all pay in the long run, we simply
pay different and seemingly unrelated bills. We have established layer
upon layer of local through national bureaucracies ( the most disguised
corporate welfare ) to regulate pesticides, other chemicals, nuclear
power, CFOs,and thousands of other matters. Wait until you get a real
job and pay taxes to support them, it will tear at your heart to
contribute to that insanity. I have no doubt that the forms of
production will gradually change to less concentrated and less
nonsustainable techo supported methods. I do not doubt that in the
future we will once again have sensible and responsive food systems. We
all know there is such a beautiful satisfaction in observing a movement
that is able to survive and grow on its own merit. Let those that have a
true conviction nurture it or we run the risk of prematurely losing it
when it is incapable of sustaining itself. We'll have to start all over,
and I'll only be able to contribute as compost.