Capitalism Part 2Posted: July 17, 2012
When I told my brother I was writing a blog, he laughed . . . hard. When he finally asked what it was about, our conversation went something like this:
Me: For the next year, we want to try to eat the best organic, pasture-based, fair trade food we can get on $200 a week.
My Brother: Oh—like a Consumer Reports for people who are weird about food.
Me: Yeah. Pretty much.
I like Consumer Reports so I don’t really have a problem with this. I have heard activists from every sector of the food movement, complain about people like me, though. They say “voting with your fork” is just making yourself feel good and it’s not going to change anything. Of course it’s not going to fix our food system, but for people who go grocery shopping (i.e. most of us), the market is a good place to start–not just the farmers’ market, but the free market.
I just read a paper by a University of Auckland PhD candidate on the subject. She argues that not only is voting with your fork not enough, it’s dangerous.
“In some instances, the idea of ethical consumerism does more to comfort and accommodate the individual eater, and thus solidify the structures of the current food system, than to actually challenge it.”
Okay, maybe, but this follows a jab at American consumerism that smacks of activist elitism: “It’s okay that we drive Hummers because we are driving to the farmers market!”
I’m not defending capitalism—I’m a socialist. But I live in the real world and I know how we spend our money does make a difference. You don’t have to raise goats in your apartment or pluck your own chickens to have an impact.
Joel Saladin, in his, Folks, this just ain’t normal, spends a chapter railing against ignorant city people who don’t can their own food or know the difference between a cow and a bull. I’ll bet that if he got sick, he’d be glad his doctor didn’t spend her college years learning how to slaughter a pig or make home-made lard.
Not everyone can be a full-time activist (or farmer). Let’s leave the militant activism to the professionals. The rest of us can plant a garden, go to the farmers’ market and send a letter to our senators. And yes, we can vote with our forks.