April 9, 2003

Organic Stepping Stones

Category: Politics — Biella @ 12:02 am

Organic food is good. It tastes better, it is more ecologically sustainable, it is healthier, and you can generally feel good about yourself when you buy and eat organic. But do you feel good about yourself when you buy organic food at the local “Safeway” market instead of the local cooperative?

So today I went to Safeway for the first time in like a year only to discover a large natural foods and products section with a diverse range of things like toilet paper made from recycled paper, colon cleansing herbs, gluten free grains, the token Amy’s frozen food dinners, and all sorts of weird organic teas.

I was a bit shocked to see all these products that I associated with coops, Whole Foods, and small health food stores in the monolith, big, bad, Safeway. Hell, the modern supermarket sucks. I think one of the more revolutionary acts would be to do away entirely with the supermarket. But I have to say that I am on the whole ok that Safeway carries these types of products because it exposes a whole other set of people to the powerful message contained within organic foods.

One of the large problemsof politics is preaching to the choir, something that worries seth quite a bit within his political world. I think it is one of the most fundamental problem of any sort of politics–> how to sing outside the choir. The problem is that most people don’t want to be sung to because it is not the song of their own choosing.

So one solution is reaching them via stealth mode. And it is this steathliness that I find important in the relatively large scale presence of organic/natural products at a mainstream market. It is in this way that people who have never really thought of going organic might be exposed to this world and in the process learn enough about it, to actually care so that they learn about the isssues surrounding large scale unorganic food production is all about. It is only when people learn and really viscerally care about something that then one can break out into some preachy tunes.

But in the end, I see it only as a possible stepping stone, in which people, through exposure are brought to greater consciousness about an issue and then go beyond the Safeway and into the coop. I know that for many in Safeway, having natural products will just be an added convenience and they will not switch out of the “supposed” safe zone of the supermarket which is really full of unsafe stuff. But I think it has the potential to reach a greater mass of people, a fraction of which will hopefully migrate over 3 blocks west and 2 blocks north to Rainbow, San Francisco’s worker owned food coop…

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