One would think that going to a Slow Food university, being bombarded by information about deteriorating local food systems, biodiversity, and environmental travesties that have been caused by the global food system, would successfully work to change my ‘bad’ consumer habits. Being preached to about GMO foods and how each purchase of imported produce I make is single-handedly destroying the universe should have technically changed my consumer habits, but my friends, I have a confession to make…..
…..I buy out of season fruits imported from Chile, I enjoy eating meat, and I am a slave to convenience. Having the choice of going to do my shopping at the Saturday farmer’s market, I choose to go to the supermarket attached to my house, and buy the prepackaged, pre-washed lettuce because I cant stand the idea of having to wash dirt and insects out of my vegetables before eating them. *cringe*
What does this mean? I think that my eating habits reflect the reality of most of our society. A truth that is both relieving and slightly depressing. Every day, we are hit in the face with ‘go-to’ terms that are used to convince the average consumer to change their habits in an effort to save the environment. “Buy Organic!” “Buy Local!” “No GMOs!” “Unprocessed!” “Fair Trade!” “Zero Food Miles!” “Eat in Season!” But has the overuse and over promotion of these terms had a counter productive effect? Does the general population really care that some farm worker in Brazil is being disgustingly exploited for the sole purpose of providing us with freshly brewed Arabica coffee every morning?
It is impossible to completely change the eating habits and working routines of an entire population, which brings me to ask myself, is the Slow Food movement doomed to fail? Pardon my apathy, but it is a question that I continues to poke my brain. Is the ‘fairness’ and ‘morality’ of a locally grown indigenous apple enough to justify its higher price?
Perhaps we need a different approach. How would an overworked stock broker in New York approach the situation of buying locally grown food? Is he going to go out of his way after a busy day of work to find the farmer’s market? Probably not. What about the morbidly obese truck driver in Mississippi who disparagingly regards the organic movement as a corporate excuse to bump up food prices?
How much value does buying fair, organic, local, and environmentally friendly foods hold for the general population? Is it time to start reorganizing the Slow Food approach to make it more relevant for the average consumer? The answer lies in convincing marketing. People don’t want to be hit in the face with facts and figures, using guilt to motivate them to change their evil ways, because ultimately the only emotion that evolves is resent.
There’s nothing worse than protesting hippies outside of large supermarket chains, condemning the masses for consumer failure. The truth is, the fault is not the consumer’s but the large corporations that have jumped on the organic bandwagon for capitalistic gains. How much change is really being done?
You want people to stop eating fast-food? Don’t babble about the corrupt meat industry and the influx of greenhouse gases, because really, a photo is worth 1,000 words.
To make real changes, we have to make the messages relevant to the average consumers. Not just the elitist yuppies that live to boast about their elevated eating morality. The real world doesn’t have time to think about the unfortunate consequences of the corporate food system. It’s time to start thinking more strategically if organizations like Slow Food want to successfully spread their message rather than become lost in the sea of smug Al Gore clones.
What do you think? In the world outside of the microcosm of die hard organic/fair trade/local food eaters are the messages these organizations are trying to deliver effective?