Monday, February 05, 2007

Should Organic Food be Grounded?

tidbits that tantalize
Banana Flight

Ban Impacting


Bananas, apples and pineapple. It certainly seems simple enough. You grab your helmet, climb aboard your ten-speed, self-propelled cruiser and head for the organic market. Wow - sunshine, crisp spring air and the flowers almost leaping out at you... Saturday mornings just don't get any better.

Until you hit the market, that is.

Intent on a quick grab-and-go, you barely break stride as you speed walk through the familiar produce section. Bananas, apples and pineapple on board you ease into the express lane and check your watch. Ah, under three minutes - perfect! You'll be back on your way to the park in record time.

The lights and sirens erupt without warning - armed guards come dashing from the shadows and whisk you away to a small, dimly lit room. An odd little man enters, sits directly across the table and drops a large green folder onto the table, your picture clipped to its front.

It's your worst nightmare come true - you've been apprehended by the Organic Food Police.

If only you'd renewed your Organic Foods Carbon Offset License...

While not yet envisioning a police force charged with apprehending "organic offenders," Britain's Soil Association is studying the ramifications of shipping organic produce by air. Among the possible actions it may recommend is an outright ban on the import of organic food that is shipped by air.

The issue revolves around the now ubiquitous concern over greenhouse gases. While organic farming is more efficient, and releases fewer greenhouse gases than conventional growing methods, air transport produces larger amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas.

The issue is tricky, however, as restrictions are somewhat of a double-edged sword. While restricting air transport reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it also negatively impacts organic growers in developing countries. Pineapple growers in Ghana, for example, may find world markets closed to them and suffer a severe financial hardship as a result.

As an alternative to an outright ban on air transport, the Soil Association may recommend labeling food to indicate "food miles," thus allowing consumers to make informed purchases. A second possibility is to establish a system of "carbon offsetting," presumably allowing continued air transport of organic produce if the impact is offset by other environmentally favorable actions.

Until it's all sorted out, however, it's best to play it safe. Word is there's an organic farmer's market down on Ashland Avenue that could care less about Organic Foods Carbon Offset Licenses. Just bring cash - oh, and if you think about it, your own canvas shopping bag would be nice...

To read more about the Soil Association actions, see this from Food Production Daily.


Blogger Devon Ellington said...

Why doesn't the government, farming associations, and ordinary people force the airlines to design a plane that doesn't create those gasses?

If trucks can run on alternative fuels, why can't alternate airline fuels also be developed?

5:50 PM  
Blogger sylvia c. said...


Your pictures are always SO amazing...
Where do you find such original art?
Great article, too.

Doesn't a canvas shopping bag just spell h-e-a-l-t-h-n-u-t?

I love it!

Sylvia C.

8:35 PM  

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