Fighting Wal-Mart economy locally

Letter to the Editor

I think that the latest fad of shopping for labels such as “Fair Trade,” “Certified Sustainable,” “Slave Labor Free” and “CSA” is a reaction to the current Wal-Mart economy. The latest “free trade” economy is exporting most manufacturing jobs and turning the whole Third World into factories where business can be conducted without regard to a living wage, human rights, child labor or environmental laws.

Meanwhile, here at home, farms are being converted to prisons for more slave labor. I don’t feeling comfortable about buying products when I know in the back of my mind that buying from Wal-Mart, Disney, Nike, Folgers, Chiquita, Nestle and many other national brands may perpetuate slave labor and other human rights abuses. Perhaps the labels just make me feel better. On the other hand, they could be an outright farce, just like the label “Free Trade.”

Consider that when buying all of my fruits and vegetables from a Sno-Valley or Seattle Tilth farm with a CSA program (community supported agriculture), I know I am getting fresh, healthy and tasty produce that was grown according to organic farm practices. I am supporting the local economy because the vegetables were grown locally. And I get a good deal since there were no middlemen involved.

I also know the produce did not have to get picked weeks before getting shipped thousands of miles across the country, which saves fuel costs and air pollution. Because the products were grown here in the United States, I know that they did not use illegal pesticides (like DDT, which is still allowed in neighboring countries like Mexico), perpetuate child or slave labor.

Each week I get a box from the Full Circle Farm in Carnation delivered to a drop-off point in my neighborhood at a really good price. I can even tell them which vegetables I like and dislike, or discontinue service during vacation. If there were enough people doing this, they could probably deliver to my door.

To me, my politically correct grocery list is a way of voting with my purchasing dollars and at the same time getting much better freshness, quality and variety than what the Wal-Mart economy can give me. The little bandito slashing prices does come with costs that economists fail to add up in their equations. I can choose through my purchasing dollars where those costs incur – jobs here or slavery there.

Konrad Roeder

North Bend