Thursday, 13 February 2014

Conscience, ethical behaviour, and consistency.

Oh it's so darned hard to live with a conscience which calls for consistent ethical actions.)

I struggle with this in my many and various purchases.

You all know that I am a great fan of the Trader Joe's stores. When I enter one of these stores I sometimes think that I am in a secret cult with all manner of bargains for  initiates, or I think that I am in a place which leads me to a kind of evangelical fervor.

See http://www.traderjoes.com/about/index.asp  and especially check out the "Customer Updates"

The prices are good and most of the products are of excellent quality. But please note that T'J's is not a health foods store -  and it's important to check the labels for sodium, calorie, vitamin, fats etc.

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A few weeks ago at Trader Joe's I bought  a 48 ounce  canister of "100% Desert Mesquite Honey  - From the Desert of Northern Mexico".  It is very good honey.

I paid just over $8. for 3 lbs of  honey.  What a bargain.

Then I began to think backwards.  I thought about

1. The wages for my local T.J's employees, and the overheads for a local store  (electricity, business and property taxes etc.)

2. The cost of transporting this honey from Mexico via  California, and then to an east coast T.J's distribution centre, and from this centre to Sarasota.

3. The cost of processing and  packaging the honey in Mexico or California.

4. AND THEN the wages paid to the campesinos who harvested the raw honey in the Desert of Northern Mexico.

DID THEY RECEIVE A LIVING WAGE FOR THEIR ARDUOUS WORK?  

I wish that Trader Joe's would tell us about the social costs of their products alongside their claims about Antibiotic-Free Meat, Non GMO ingredients, Sea food sources,  etc.

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Then again my virtuous side bought a 300g jar of  Hot Mango Chutney at the St. Boniface Church Sarasota  "Global Gifts Fair".

Goodness gracious  it is a fabulous and delicious  product from the "Eswatini Kitchen".  I often use it to "spice up" a soup of stew.

I paid the princely sum of $7 for this chutney.

There is a kicker.   The chutney is made in Swaziland.

I had to do  Google search to identify this country.  (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaziland )

The label on the jar tells me that " Traditionally made by women,  Eswatini Kitchen supports local farmers  by buying their produce at fair prices.  All profits go to support  marginalized  youth in Swaziland".

(It is Fair Trade Certified),

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Are my scruples about my purchase of   T J's  "100% Desert Mesquite Honey  - "From the Desert of Northern Mexico", mitigated by my purchase of "Eswatini Kitchen Fair Trade Mango Chutney"

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I think not  (but it was a good try!).

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Conscience, ethical behaviour, and consistency are so darned difficult.
 
 

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