Sunday, 27 May 2007

Organic distance

In the way that we have of making the complex even more so, environmental issues seem to get more difficult rather than less as years go by. Here in Europe where so much fresh produce has to be imported from warmer climes an interesting debate about organic versus carbon is happening.

I often think of 'organic produce' as being those not entirely clean vegetables and tomatoes that you see at the Adelaide Market. But this is quite crude caricature. Of course the key thing is that they are grown without chemicals, either fertilisers or pesticides.

But the British National Farmers' organisation makes the point that a lot of 'organic fruit' (bananas for example) may be organic but have travelled an enormous distance to get to UK markets.

The usual sort of complaint you know a farmer in Shropshire, the heart of England's asparagus growing district (through which we recently travelled) noted that his local supermarket had abundant supplies of 'organic' asparagus from, of all places, Chile and none from local farms.

The hidden ecological cost in transporting the produce is difficult to pin down, though clearly there is more to be considered than whether or not the banana has been sprayed with Zyklon B (unlikely!!).

Australians don't yet appear to have got to such a keen point where the carbon footprint is examined alongside other factors, though clearly we will have to.

It would be nice to think that we will not just hurtle down the path of more and more cars and roads, cheaper and cheaper flights, until everything is just so gummed up that it is almost terrifying.

Organic, it seems to me, is good...but at what expense. There is much to be balanced in the scales

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