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October 17, 2006

The Soil Association: a Trade Union

I've consistently described the Soil Association as a trade union for organic farmers. Some obviously disagree, but when it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck....

We don't dispute that the organic sector faces unhelpful moves from some supermarkets - pushing sales by offering customers organic food as "cheaply" as possible, and potentially forcing organic farmers on to the same treadmill as their non-organic counterparts. Our food culture needs changing so that "cheap" generally means "nasty", and definitely inferior, as with any other product. Good quality organic food is within everyone's price range if people eat a diet based on unprocessed, seasonal and local food with less (but better-quality) meat.

That is, without a doubt, a trade union leader making the case that we'd all better pay more for his members output, that for some moral reason his people are more worthy of your money than their competitors outside his union. Even, as he says, that you should limit your consumption and the variety of it so as to give his members higher incomes.

Change a few words and it could be the UAW telling people they should buy American cars.

The Soil Association is a trade union and we should regard it as such.

October 17, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink


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Organic food? Yech! I avoid whenever I can. I don't see why I should pay extra for food grown in unsanitary condition and using far more land than it should need.

Posted by: Josh | Oct 17, 2006 5:02:27 PM

I did a recent price comparison at my local Waitrose supermarket. Average 30 - 40% higher price for a wide range of vegetables (as much as 90% higher for some items).

My middle class neighbours can continue to be ripped off as far as I'm concerned. These products do not taste better, are not better for you, do not do anything better for the environment and if organic farming was more widely applied would be a recipe for more poverty.

Not as bad as organics is all this fair trade branding - at best harmless, at worst a diversion from promoting poverty-reducing free trade. Most likely a device for supermarkets to better identify that part of their customer base willing to part with more consumer surplus than poorer or more canny buyers.

Posted by: stephen c | Oct 17, 2006 5:47:30 PM