What's So Unfair about How We Do Trade, Part 5: "Eating Ethically"

The good news about unfair agriculture is—we don’t have to put up with it. Right here in the San Diego area, there are many alternatives, right here, close to home.

What’s So Unfair about How We Do Trade?

The good news about unfair agriculture is—we don’t have to put up with it. There is another way…in fact, there are many alternative ways. We don’t have to be content with the exploitation and environmental degradation that often accompany Big Agribusiness, and we don’t have to fill ourselves with self-loathing and guilt trips just because we want to eat a tomato.


There are several ways to work towards a different way of buying and selling fruits and vegetables…





Buy at local farmers’ markets


Get to know the small producers in your area. Get to know how they produce their produce. Do more shopping at your local farmers’ market, and develop a relationship with the farmers who sell there. Of course, buying at the farmer’s market is no silver bullet, and does not guarantee that exploitative labor conditions were not involved in the production of the produce—but it’s a way to become more intimately familiar with how the produce was farmed. In fact, many of them will even allow you to go out and pick the produce yourself, or visit the farm and become a part of it.


Here’s a list of local farmers’ markets in the San Diego area. As you can see, they’re not hard to come by.




Get involved in urban agriculture


There is a growing movement across the U.S. (and in other countries) to make use of the urban spaces we have right here, next door, rather than bringing in all our food from miles away. It just makes sense—there are a surprising number of spaces available right in the heart of our own city where gardens can grow. Why waste all the gas bringing in massive shipments of tomatoes when we can grow them right here?


Here is one example of an urban agriculture project in San Diego, reported on in the Union Tribune:




In fact, earlier this year, San Diego’s city council voted unanimously in favor of urban agriculture:





Buy a share of a local produce farm or coop


This is an intimate way to become a part of the local farms producing fruits and vegetables. One local example of this sort of effort is the San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project:





Create a garden at home


If you live in an apartment, do some gardening on your balcony, in planters. Or organize with your fellow renters and the manager to talk about creating a rooftop garden, as thousands of people have already done. If you live in a house, it’s even easier—use the yard space to grow your own produce. It’s relatively easy, it’s cheap, and it’s good for your soul to eat food you’ve grown yourself.


There is a burgeoning movement here in the San Diego area to push for using yard space to produce food, rather than growing lawns (which are costly and, in this desert climate, use enormous amounts of our scarce water supply). Leave the lawn-growing to the golf courses.


San Diego Food Not Lawns:





As you can see, a plethora of alternatives to “exploitation agriculture” exist. And this isn’t even an exhaustive list. As we work towards finding more just ways to relate to each other and to the earth, we don’t have to stop eating, growing food, buying and selling. We can fill our table with fruits and vegetables that taste like justice. 

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Craig Maxwell December 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” --T.S. Eliot
No Bad Government December 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Just give me quality food at a low price. Costco and Walmart Neighborhood Market for meat, Spouts for fruits and veggies, Walmart and Target and Costco for everything else. Check for the sale flyers from the grocery stores for a particular item on sale. Farmers Market prices are high and I can't tell the difference between an orange from there and from Sprouts. I don't need to feel good emotionally to eat well and inexpensively.
Things I Learned December 15, 2012 at 01:48 AM
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." --C.S. Lewis
Russell Buckley December 15, 2012 at 03:04 AM
After having done some reading about the FT movement, I am convinced that it is a flawed system. I recommend an even-handed article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (Stanford University) Summer of 2011: The Problem With Fair Trade Coffee. The following comments from the article are typical: "Despite these achievements, the system by which Fair Trade USA hopes to achieve its ends is seriously flawed, limiting ... the benefits it provides growers and workers." "Thus the chances increase that the Fair Trade coffee will be of consistently lower quality." "Fair Trade also provides incentives for some farmers to remain in the coffee business even though the market signals that they will not be successful." "It is rare to find a retailer or coffee roaster these days that does not address social issues in some way. Some do so by offering Fair Trade coffee. Others, however, have sought out other solutions, such as adopting other certifications or by developing their own programs." "A number of exporters and importers in the coffee business are saying we can get more money into the pockets of farmers through direct trade than if we use the Fair Trade model." "…. Which has led some in the coffee business say that Fair Trade is primarily a marketing organization." I have decided that there are too many problems associated with Fair Trade products to give them preference over other brands.
Things I Learned December 15, 2012 at 04:11 AM


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