Is Ethical Eating Elite?

I happened to be speaking with someone the other day about ethical eating and the fact it included a diet of locally grown foods, organics and limited or no animal products. “Sure,” was the reply, “but that’s stuff’s expensive. Don’t you think it’s kind of elitism to preach ethical food when you can afford to buy it but others can’t?”

It is a question that comes up often, but what those who raise it often fail to realize is that while it may cost more, and therefore not always be a viable option for those with less money, the “trickle down” result is helping everyone, no matter where they are along the socioeconomic spectrum.

When we buy local we reduce our carbon footprint as the food doesn’t have to be transported as far. When we buy local we support our local farmers and producers, and buying local organics has the added advantage of helping many of the “mom and pop” farms, not “Big Ag.” When we buy organic, the workers are not being exposed to dangerous pesticides and herbicides, and those chemicals don’t end up in our groundwater or atmosphere. And, for those of us who eat animal products, local means the chances are better that the animals were raised and treated humanely.

There is no getting around the fact that local, and organic, may cost a bit more on the front end, but its benefits are worth the investment to public health, the environment and often animal welfare. And let’s not forget the system is driven by supply and demand. If more consumers insist on local, organic and humanely raised food products, the cost will come down.


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