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Why I don't Buy Organic

July 12th, 2010
organic, giving, money, local  [html]

Julia and I give away a good fraction of our income. Money that we spend buying organic food [1] instead of regular food is money that can't be given to help people who need it. I see buying organic food as roughly equivalent to buying regular food and then donating money to a "make food organic" charity. [2] The question is, then, is oxfam or is this (imaginary) "make food organic" charity doing more good in the world? I'm pretty well convinced that with oxfam we get much more good for our money, so we should donate to them instead of buying organic.

If you currently buy organic food for "make the world a better place" reasons, I would encourage you to switch that spending from organic food to international aid. Or talk to me and convince me that I should do the opposite.

[1] This argument applies just as well to other forms of virtuous food buying: 'local', 'free range', 'cage free', 'fair trade', 'grass fed', 'non-gm', 'free-farmed', etc

[2] When buying organic food you ideally get several things: better taste, healthier food, and less environmental harm. The first two I have no issue with: in cases where I believe the taste and health benefits are worth the organic cost premium I would be fine with buying organic food. (I don't have any such cases currently.) It's the environmental harm aspect that I don't find convincing in our situation.

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