Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Buying Green

I have frequently drooled over products in health food stores. Something about the earth-tone packaging, folksy copy, smell of incense and the sound of new age and world music impairs my ability to think like a savvy consumer. I no longer do that math, I merely submit to temptation.

I like my
greensource tee-shirt made from "organically grown" cotton specially for the product tracking feature. I actually took the trouble to check where the cotton for my shirt was grown and was actually rather pleased that I could. I can almost see a shepherd herding his goat past the field of "organic cotton" as the cotton pods nod gently in the breeze. There is no exploitation of the soil or of the farmers. Everyone did their bit bright and happy in making my floral printed white tee-shirt. Instead of being a mass produced commodity that came out a sweat-shop, this is a labor of love. While the vision is idyllic it is almost definitely very far from reality. They wanted to sell me this picture and they were able to.

I have often asked myself why I fail to use my best judgment in the face of over-priced "green" products. Why would I implicitly believe every claim to organic, free- range, natural and the like when I am prompt to dismiss any and all marketing for a comparable mainstream product.

When it comes to organic food it may have to do with growing up in small town India, fringed by villages. Vegetables, poultry and fish was organic because the villagers were too impoverished to buy pesticides or fertilizers. It is the taste that I am used to and cannot find in the American supermarket. Organic food tastes like more like what I grew up with. But even that does not explain why I ideally want everything that touches my life to have a "green" tag on it even at the risk of getting scammed. Maybe it feeds my illusion and desire of being a consumer with a sense of social and environmental responsibility.

Apparently what
motivates someone to buy organic is a question worth researching and writing books about. Small families are greener than big ones apparently.


ggop said...

Nice links. My curiosity about organic products first piqued when a friend mentioned research which linked the hormones in regular milk to early onset of puberty in young girls.

After reading Cradle to Cradle I also was interested in the whole sustainable lifestyle thing. I subscribe to Ecofabulous. But they are so expensive that its hard to plonk down so much. I wonder if you would get fooled into buying anything from the links they post :-)

I'm happy to hear the veggies and fruit you consumed in India were by necessity organic. I'm not confident of what we consumed because Mumbai had that massive RCF factory and I wonder how many farmers in Maharashtra used their products.

Heartcrossings said...

ggop - I have to check out Ecofabulous if only to drool over all that unattainable earth friendly stuff. Yes, I was lucky to grow up in a small town - that's where I tasted the best food of my life.