I am sure that you know by now that every single dollar you spend on something has an affect on people somewhere down the line of manufacturing. From where you buy your clothes to where you get your food, every step along the way is affected by the step above it. If Wal-Mart wants to sell televisions for $99, they must pay much less than that to the company in charge of making them. And in order for that company to make any profit, they might have to use inferior raw materials, pay slave wages to their employees, ignore any environmental laws in place in their country, find the cheapest shipping option, etc.. The same goes for your food. A grocery store is in the business of making money, so they do the same…they want to pay the farmer the lowest amount of money that they can for a pound of tomatoes. The farmer, in turn, must grow a ton of tomatoes in order to make any money. And how does he do that? He uses fertilizers and pesticides that might not be the greatest thing for both you and the environment. So how do you make sure you are doing what you can to try to shop as ethically as you can?
The first thing you might want to do is to ask yourself where the food came from. Did it come from a factory farm in another country using these toxic fertilizers and pesticides to create a massive amount of food that looks perfect? Or does it come from a local farmer who grows his or her food organically, sells it locally, and cares about their crops and what goes into growing them? It always kills me when I see oranges for sale in the grocery store from places like Australia…when I live in Southern California. It’s quite silly, really.
Are you buying what you need? Do you go to the store, come home with tons of bags of food, and then find out you cannot eat it all before it goes bad? Sure, it happens to all of us. Just the other day I had to throw out 2 summer squashes that I bought and did not get around to eating. It hurt, let me tell you, to throw away food that A. I paid for and B. should have been eaten. But sometimes you buy too much and end up tossing it. Watch the quantity that you buy and make sure you can use what you bring home.
Buy organic and fair-trade goods when you can. Sometimes it costs a little more to buy things this way, but in reality, you like to get paid what you are worth, right? So why shouldn’t the person providing you the food and products get paid just as well? Besides, the more we all start spending on organic and free-trade goods, the cheaper they will start to become as more and more farmers see that they can, in fact, get paid fairly for growing these type of products.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you shop for goods, whether they be food or any other product. We do the best we can and sometimes I cannot even keep within these guidelines. But everyone needs to do what they can to try to make a difference with their shopping dollars, no matter how big or small that difference is!
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