You want to be the ethical consumer…


…but you can’t stop wondering how that works? I know exactly how you feel. Once you start walking down that road there’s many rivers to cross. To separate the good from the evil is in fact such a tricky task that you feel tempted to drop the whole plan and leave it to Lao-Tse: “Do you want to improve the world? I don’t think it can be done.” You’d be a poor reader of Lao-Tse though, if you left it just with that. The great Chinese also says: “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.” Well, that’s what ethical consuming is all about, I’d say: Do what you can and want to do. The picture below shows what I mean:

Cherries for chilly times: stay clear, will you?

This is my greengrocer’s shop in the Marais. But don’t you think it’s a photo taken in last August: I took it yesterday, in mid-February. You could enlarge the photo (by clicking into it) to better recognize what’s on display: you’ll see cherries and peaches, red currant, bilberries and raspberries. But you’d better smell all the kerosene needed to let you find them in Paris right now. It’s a United Nations summit played by fruit: Costa Rica is present, Israel, South Africa, I’ve also seen asparagus from Peru and strawberries from China.

I had a conversation with my greengrocer about these forbidden fruit. He was split. On the one hand, he fully agreed to my protest and said, he, too, was only consuming seasonal (and regional) fruit for the simple reason that they’re much tastier. On the other hand, he’s a salesman (and quite a greedy one, as I might say), and the costumers, he said, “are buying that shit. They want it. They’re used to it. So what can I do?”

I won’t judge him. He has a family to feed (his wife and two sons are working in his shop). But I can judge my own actions. And I will never ever buy summer fruits from afar during winter time. It’s too crazy. It’s useless. I’d even say it’s evil.

  • (Lao-Tse: I’m using the beautiful translation by Stephen Mitchell)
  • (Nice link: “Ethical costumer” is a British organization with a magazine)

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