May 2, 2010

Only Occasionally Organic

Every time I think I've "made it", I find another way that I'm falling short. Or to be more positive, an amusing self-realization showing that there's still a long way to go to living out my ideals.

Today it was the hummingbird feeder, which has been empty for 3 blissful days. Blissful days where we can get through an entire sentence at the dinner table without being interrupted by "Look, a hummingbird!". Empty because we used up the last of our cheap Rogers white sugar, and the fair-trade organic cane sugar in the cupboard is too expensive to waste on little birds.

But wait a minute, do we buy organic foods just because of the health and taste benefits only to us? Surely God's tiny little marvel that can hover and fly backwards is equally deserving of wholesome goodness?

Just kidding, that's not the big quandary (someday I might in fact have moved spiritually to a place of equality with all creatures, but it's not on the agenda these days). What jumped out at me was that health and taste aren't the only motivating factors to buy organic, fair-trade and local food. Equally important are social justice, carbon footprint, local economy, and the environment.

Regardless of whether the sugar goes into my greedy mouth or a hummingbird's delicate beak, how that sugar is produced and marketed is important. My dollars should always be supporting fair workers' rights and compensation, organic farming practices that care for the earth and reduce water consumption, avoidance of petroleum-based fertilizers, and local sources where possible to supporting local producers and decrease carbon emissions of transport.

Someday I'll have room in my consciousness to worry about whether Rogers refined sugar is good for brother hummingbird. For today, it's enough to remember that my ethical purchasing commitment is not conditional on how the product is used. And to swallow a bit of humble pie (or perhaps hope) in realizing that as much as we strive to live right, there's always more to reach for.


  1. about the hummingbirds? (doesn't not feeding them mean they die (because a previously reliable food source is abruptly stopped) which is hardly fair - (humans took away their natural habitat & now another human is inconsistent (irresponsible?) about feeding them))?

  2. we are feeding them, it's just a question of whether our commitment to organic extends to bird feed. Or bee feed, for that matter - whenever our bees finally arrive, they'll be drinking lotsa sugar water, wonder how many beekeepers use expensive organic for that?