Image credit: Carrboro Farmers Market
From organic food to buying carbon offsets, transparency, accountability and consumer choice are important elements of the sustainability puzzle - but must it always be down to us to ensure it? Last weekend my wife and I were at the farmers market buying some eggplant. My wife asked me to check if it was sprayed. For some reason, as I made my purchase, I was tongue tied - I just didn't want to get into a conversation about how these eggplants were grown, so I just bought them anyway. My wife (who is 8 months pregnant) was understandably a little annoyed. So what was going on? Let me be clear, this wasn't some principled, well thought out stance that "I shouldn't have to ask, so I won't" More than likely I was just under-caffeinated, unsociable, and I didn't want to talk to anyone. But still. As someone who writes about environmental responsibility and consumer power (and as someone who loves my wife and my unborn baby!), I did feel like a bit of a hypocrite.
Nevertheless there is still part of me that resents having to ask, having to care, having to watch out for every single environmental threat or transgression. After all, in a perfect world, sustainability would be the default option. We would trust implicitly that dangerous, harmful or even possibly harmful cultivation techniques were at least rare, if not outright forbidden.
But the world ain't perfect. (As a friend of mine likes to say, it's much more interesting than that!) So for now, I'll be making more of an effort to check on my purchases, and to speak up if I have questions. And if I don't feel like talking to anyone - I'll walk on until I see a sign that says unsprayed.
But am I alone? Is anyone else a little tired of having "that conversation" each time we buy a coffee, a carrot or a steak?