Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trying to make sense out of organic, fair trade, local, and environmental purchases

If you’re anything like me, you tend to find yourself in knots over the conflicting information out there about shopping green…

I mean, various reports tell me that if I have to buy non-organic fruits and veggies, I should go for non-organic bananas and organic apples because bananas contain fewer pesticides than apples. But anyone who knows anything about banana production knows that buying non-organic bananas is a death sentence for the plantation workers. Besides, Quebec has a booming apple industry and given the facts that the 100 mile diet  is the most sustainable and that I’m supposed to support local agriculture, shouldn’t I buy the Quebec apples instead of the organic American ones? And what about the fact that non-organic produce sometimes tastes better but often there is no noticeable difference? Ack! Too many questions.

I know, I know: local, organic, and fair trade is best!

But what about green-washing?

Oy Vey, I’m exhausted already!

And don’t forget make-up:

I buy Lavera, Dr Hauschka, and Weleda skin/cosmetic products. According to SkinDeep these choices, albeit from organic, sustainable companies, are still fairly toxic. This caused me a certain amount of consternation… I mean, was the answer really to go back to back to companies like Neutrogena, with its low toxicity score (Neutrogena doesn’t test its final product on animals but says nothing about base ingredients or paid research by other companies) but is a member of the less that consumer friendly/ethical Johnson and Johnson corporation, which tests on animals and has a bad track record?

Here’s the thing that I’m trying to get at… every choice you make has a counter choice and effect. At the end of the day, the exhausting process of researching your purchases can be overwhelming so we need to find a happy medium.

So while the make-up I buy doesn’t have a perfect score, it uses sustainable business practices and certified organic ingredients. And the bananas are organic as often as possible and the apples are always local (preferably organic too but not always). And peaches, well from now on in I will no longer buy peaches that aren’t organic for the sheer fact that non-organic peaches SUCK!


  1. Movin' to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches...

  2. Thank you for this authentic, thoughtful post. Our every day choices do matter, so it's important to consider them. I work at Weleda and wanted to respond to your concerns about our EWG rankings. The EWG has taken great strides to inform consumers of their products’ safety, but notable data gaps do, however, exist. While the EWG’s information is pooled from 37 other scientific databases, there is a great deal of ingredient information not yet included in their database. This information is often missing because it is not publicly available and/or it has not been evaluated in an official, scientific research study. Botanicals and plant components like those Weleda uses are among those core databases that are presently missing—in great part—from the database. As a result, some of the ingredients in Weleda’s products are noted as being potentially harmful or of concern, even though Weleda is one of the safest skin care lines available in the market, setting standards far beyond all European guidelines and regulations. The same problems exist for products from Dr. Hauschka and Lavera, which are also very safe and pure lines. For more info on some of the gaps in the database, check out this guide to the Skin Deep database from Terri Bly. It is very helpful: http://feelgoodstyle.com/2010/03/16/terri-blys-guide-to-the-skin-deep-database/
    Thank you for again for your thoughtful post and your wonderful blog!

  3. Carrie,

    Thanks for the heads up about Terri Bly article. Between your answer and her article, you've addressed many of my concerns.



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