Good intentions sometimes lead to more harm, than what alternative choices would have done. When a food trend or sometimes fad makes its introduction in Northern European countries it’s mostly for company profit, but sometimes because someone thought about other people’s health and well-being.
Quinoa, a grain grown mostly in the fields of Peru, was introduced in Europe, a lot of vegans, vegetarians and other good-health-seeking-disciples were excited. For some it was a totally new grain to substitute couscous, rice or other similar types of grain, fantastic!
Well, the other side of importation is exportation, which in the case of for e.g. quinoa, asparagus and soya beans have meant that the people who normally buy these locally grown vegetables and grain types, are having trouble meeting the increasing prices of the products they have bought and consumed in everyday life for centuries. In other words; because of the increasingly demand of soya, quinoa etc. from e.g. European countries has resulted in higher prices in all countries around the world.
Fair trade organisations have tried to comply with some of the problems that are involved in the high demand for ‘exotic’ or let’s say foreign goods. Some organizations ensure that a product with their logo marked on the packaging pays a fair amount of the revenue made from selling the product to the farmers. However the problem in question is not so much the farmers who produce the products. It’s more about the people who depend on cheap grain and other crops that usually make out the basis of every meal in poorer families in countries like Peru.
How do we, as consumers, comply with this problematic situation we put other people into? The point is really to buy as much locally as you can. This implies that the food we feed our children and stuff into our own mouths is locally grown, haven’t been travelling several thousands of miles around the globe nor has the produce been harvested or processed by underpaid underfed workers. That is, if you know your local farmer, which would make pretty good sense as a thing to do. However the importation of goods from foreign countries is very much a balance, because the farmers in e.g. Peru could benefit from exporting their produce to Europe. It’s just our job, as consumers, to know whether the purchase at hand inflicts on the people who made it or not, and whether the people who normally depend on the product aren’t forced into starvation because of increasing prices.
Photo by net_efekt
Photo source: flickr