My brother got me a unique Christmas gift this year. He bought me a few orders of food from an organization called Plan B Organic Farms. They deliver a carton of fresh vegetables to your door that is organic, local and/or fair-trade.
Overall I thought that the food was pretty good (though my cucumbers went moldy really fast). We are in the middle of winter here so not sure how these would compare to summer crops. I especially liked the eggs being from Hope Eco-farms which boast small bird flocks raised outdoors on grass.
But the contents of this container got me thinking. In my short quest to be more environmentally friendly I have often been faced with compromises. It feels like I have to decide which environmentally beneficial mantra I care more about. Let me demonstrate.
You see the crate of food? It might be local and organic, but the lettuce (bottom left) and carrots (buried under the kale) still came in single-use plastic bags. This observation is not limited to this company as I have had similar encounters at my local farmer’s market. So which is more important; organic food vs being plastic-free?
These trade-offs are the reason that I am not a big fan of the term ‘organic’. (Perhaps subconsciously it reminds me of the desire the burn out my eyes with acid during 3 organic chemistry courses in University). But seriously,
A crop might be ‘organic’ because it is free of pesticides but,
What if it is stashed in single-use plastic bags?
What if it is shipped half way around the world to my grocery store?
What if it is grown in massive monoculture fields?
What if I have to drive farther to the farmers market than a typical grocery store?
When did buying food become so morally complicated?
These compromises are not limited to food selection. Is it better to buy my daughter a used plastic toy or a new wooden one? Is it better to do everything digitally which burns electricity or keep hard copies which requires paper? What if the shirt I want to buy is made locally but is polyester (a synthetic fiber).
Needless to say, opening my food bin and seeing the plastic made me feel like I will never win this battle.
Rant over. I need a drink.