Monday, March 23, 2009

ECO ACTION: Frugal AND Organic

I wrote the following in response to a post today on the No Impact Man blog about production processes that improve the environment:

This morning on my Yahoo! homepage one of the lead stories was "7 Things You're Wasting Money On". 

#5 on their list was "Organic Produce"!

Of course, a person who needs to cut their expenses, but still wants to eat healthy, might choose buy regular produce instead of organic.  That's not what bothered me about this article.

What troubled me was the way this article reduced the decision to an argument that "Fruits and vegetables like kiwis, sweet corn and broccoli require very little pesticide to grow. Others -- like avocados, onions and pineapples -- have thick or peelable skins that reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals."

In other words, it's only a little poison and it's not going to hurt YOU anyway, so don't waste your money.

The premise that growing corn uses little pesticide is faulty. The premise that it doesn't matter what these chemicals do to the environment, as long as YOU don't ingest them, is faulty.

What rankled the most was their choice of the word "waste" to describe buying organic.

It's possible to be frugal and still buy organic.

I'm a long way from being the perfect organic maven, but even on a very limited budget I've found ways to do without certain things so I can increasingly make purchasing decisions based on how and where those things are produced.  Granted, I'm not in the position where I'm choosing between buying organic food and being about to afford rent or transportation. 

Still, I worry what will happen to the current resurgence in environmental awareness if the economy worsens and such arguments about "waste" continue.  Or when the economy recovers and people return to their old mindless spending habits.

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