Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A word on organics (gone bananas)

I am back in Austin getting ready for our holiday fundraisers. Today was a beautiful day and I rode my bike around town. I stopped by the Bicycle Sports Shop and while I was waiting for my bike to be fixed I went to check out their smoothie stand. I noticed a sign that said "Everything is Organic (excluding the bananas)". I thought it was kind of weird, so I asked the woman working the blender why they don't have organic bananas.

She replied, "The skin is so thick, it doesn't really matter."

She is referring to the idea that since the skin is thick, pesticides wont penetrate to the fruit, therefore the fruit is rendered harmless.

This idea really bothers me. The organic movement should not just be a privilege of wealthy north americans to decide how much pesticides they will introduce to their digestive system. It is about the health of our planet, our water supply, the health of farmers and their families, and the longevity and sustainability of agricultural land and ecosystems. Usually I argue against the corporatizing of Organics because it is becoming virtually meaningless, but today I found myself arguing for Organics.

I told her that I grow organic bananas and not only is it not very hard, but organic bananas aren't very expensive. (As opposed to organic tomatoes). I tried to convince her that a pesticide-soaked banana peel sitting in the fridge is just as "bad" as a non-organic strawberry. I tried to explain to her that in banana-growing countries, there are pesticides that have been out-lawed since the 1960s in the US. I really dislike this puritanical idea that organics is about our own choice of what we put in our body not about what we dump into our earth ecosystem.

The US has created foreign policy on bananas. We have gone to war over bananas. We have installed military dictators who have started genocidal regimes over bananas. We cant just shrug them of "because they have thick skin".


Anonymous said...

Hey you guys!

The project really looks like it's coming along (just checked out your site). I've been reading your blog religiously. I'm gonna be doing research in Guatemala this summer, in Tikal. Come visit or drop me an email.


geespelvin said...

Although I agree with your basic premise, that the environmental concerns are broader than consumer health concerns, isn't the problem with a lot of liberals (like you and me) that we are so focused on ideological purity that the unconverted find it hard to agree with us? I mean, isn't some progress (mostly organic) better than no progress? Don't we make our message inaccessable by arguing with allies ("mostly organic" business people)? Can we acknowledge modest gains in order to avoid alienating persuadable people?

I appreciate what you and FINCA Project do.