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What kind of consumer are you?

(29 Posts)
FairyMum Thu 03-Mar-05 18:46:33

Sorry, this title isn't very good, is it?
This has probably been discussed before, but I have done a search and cannot find any threads so here goes.....
I was shopping today and realised that because I am trying very good to be a socalled ethical consumer and buy lots of Fair Trade products as well as buying everything organic, I am spending an absolute bloody fortune. Is it really worth it or is it just a marketing scam ? I am really not sure. I am willing to spend a bit more if it really is "worth it" but I have read so many different views on this lately....Hmmmm......And isn's it bad that it is so expensive if it is better to buy organic as surely poorer people should have the option to eat healthily too?
Are you an ethical consumer? Do you buy organic? Has the Sudan1 scandal changed how you shop? Am I wasting my money?

Enid Thu 03-Mar-05 18:52:05

I do buy organic when I go to the supermarket but mainly because I try to keep seasonal and local if possible. I buy a lot from farm shops as I live in that kind of rural area.

Rarely buy meat from the supermarket but if I do it is organic - would NEVER buy non organic chicken as have a real problem with intensive farming. Hence my homemade chicken nuggets.

Don't know whether its 'worth it' - I would say it is if some of your money goes to support small specialist food producers - we desperately need that kind of food diversity in this country to stop the supermarkets blanket buying everything.

Wouldn't really like to say about the health/taste benefits - no doubt in my mind that locally produced and slaughtered meat tastes better but probably no better for you than supermarket stockpiles.

MancMum Thu 03-Mar-05 18:52:35

I am a schizophrenic shopper -- I am obsessesd with organic meat and milk, cos don't want kids getting hormones but do buy non-organic butter and cheese so not a consistent message there... I used to buy only organic veg and fruit but the more I read the less actual benefit I see them bringing... esp if they are flown half way round the world and harvested before ripe... so now I look for local fruit and veg and don't worry too much about organic... as kids get old, worry less about organic but make more of an effort with Fair Trade...

Also, a recent financial wake up call means I am watching what I spend a lot more closely and makes me question my spending... I have reduced a weekly shop of over 100 to about 60 by being more careful... and less organic... I have been amzed how the quality of things outside of John Lewis and Sainsburys is still quite high and a lot cheaper... I plan to use some of the money saved to fund a charitable donation each month -- I figure that this might actually be worth more to causes I care about that buying the fair trade stuff

prunegirl Thu 03-Mar-05 19:19:59

Message withdrawn

binkybetsy Thu 03-Mar-05 19:54:44

We have/buy/use:
Green electricity, ecover products, cloth nappies (except at night when a 'green' disposable is used for ds. Fairtrade where its available, approx. 90% organic food - it is more expensive but I won't compromise our health. Home well insulated, energy saving appliances. Walk everywhere we can. Recycle tons of stuff, not more people do. Wood used in house is always FSC, won't buy nike, nestle etc because of their trading practices, bank with coop, food has to be sourced as close to home as possible, with exception of bananas.
Our food budget for the week is 100 pounds for a family of four with two cats and to eat and practice the way we do, we have to be fairly strict about what we buy, not much rubbish.
The only thing we don't do at the moment is an efficient car. Would like a prius, but just can't afford to change at the minute.

SenoraPostrophe Thu 03-Mar-05 20:01:41

I try to be an ethical consumer, but more to the point I try not to consume too much. You can't really buy fair trade stuff here, but I would buy it if I wasn't skint at the time.

But what do you mean by "worth it"?

I know there is evidence to suggest that organic is no better for you than non-organic, but I buy organic when I can in order to support organic/small scale producers - organic may not be much better for me personally, but it is a damn sight better for the environment generally.

motherinferior Thu 03-Mar-05 20:03:37

I try to be ethical, in liberalpinko cliche way.

binkybetsy Thu 03-Mar-05 20:08:36

Animals are not given growth hormones, antibiotics (unnecssarily) and food they would not normally eat. Tend to be less intensively farmed.

binkybetsy Thu 03-Mar-05 20:10:57

Oh hang on, wrong end of stick! I thought it was to do with why buy organic meat for some reason. I think I was having a little conversation in my head as I read the previous post

Gobbledigook Thu 03-Mar-05 20:15:32

I'm not an ethical consumer and I don't buy organic - it's just too expensive and I don't think it's worth it. I don't buy Fair Trade either - too expensive. I understand that it's helping others but I 'do my bit' in other ways so I'm not paying over the odds for my shopping.

The Sudan1 scare hasn't changed my shopping as I never buy ready made stuff like that anyway. Buy plain meat, veg and fruit and make meals from scratch generally.

roisin Thu 03-Mar-05 20:18:06

I send dh shopping

Actually he is very ethical ... He likes shopping and checks where all the fruit/veg comes from before he buys it, and that sort of thing. (We don't do the organic bit though.)

I find shopping so stressful I just bung a load of stuff in the trolley and get out as quick as possible. I always end up with a load of heavily advertised stuff we don't need, only half of the stuff we do need, and it doesn't go down well if he then complains about the provenance of the sugar snap peas ...?!

So now he does it all and we're all happy

milward Thu 03-Mar-05 20:23:49

Buy local produce. Get organic if possible. Never buy ready meals. Make everything from ingredients - do buy tinned veg though. Veg, fruit & bread is cheaper (whether organic or not) than prepared food items. Can't believe the price of some ready meals!! Do like impulse purchases though but not too many just something that looks nice & is a treat sometimes. Never usually shop with a list as when I go to the supermarket I generally have to get everything

Mirage Thu 03-Mar-05 20:33:16

I don't buy organic milk-it is a bit of a waste of time as far as I'm concerned.I grew up on a dairy farm & the regulations are so strict on no antibiotics/chemicals getting into the milk,that I don't think organic is worth it.It probably means that the cows fed on pasture that had no inorganic fertiliser spread on it,but think that would be the only difference.I know people worry about growth hormones in milk,but they are illegal throughout the EU,but not in the US.

As to veg ect,I grow most of my own & have to admit that I don't usually buy organic,despite being told at agricultural college never to eat unpeeled carrots because of the number of chemicals sprayed on them.I do try & buy from farmers markets.

I don't buy cheap meat or non British meat-the farming conditions in other EU countries can be cruel,ie farrowing stalls ect,neither do I buy battery eggs.

I do hate buying milk from supermarkets,because I know how little they pay the farmers & how much profit is made on it,but since we had to sell all our cows,don't really know where else to get it from-it is illegal for normal farmers to sell it over the gate to the general public,unless they have hygiene certificates ect.

I use reuseable nappies & don't use a tumble dryer except on rare occasions & never leave lights on,so do my bit to save electricity.Probably could do better though.

FairyMum Thu 03-Mar-05 20:36:05

Thanks everyone and that's exactly what I was wondering Mirage. If the standards were generally high anyway so maybe products marketed organic to make us think much healhtier? Just difficult to know which products.

I find it totally unfair that it's more expensive though. Healthy eating for rich people then? Crazy!

spod Thu 03-Mar-05 20:36:34

i make a point of buying fair trade as i think its an importnant moral issue that producers get paid a fair price for their products... it is a little more expensive but actually, not as much as everyone thinks.... especially in the co-op... whose own brand stuff all uses fair trade coffee, chocolate etc.... I would rather do without other things to make sure i can afford to buy the fair trade stuff. If anyone is interested its fairtrade fortnight atm.... you can buy ft products at 20% off in co-op.... give it a go

Mirage Thu 03-Mar-05 20:49:14

I know that meat & milk in the EU has to be free from growth hormones.When we had cows,we had to take any that were being medically treated out of circulation & milk them seperately & dump the milk.Milk is randomly tested & if any drugs ect showed up,the whole lot had to be thrown down the drain & you'd get a huge fine.We weren't allowed to use milk from cows that had just calved either,because of the colostrum strangely enough.(can't imagine why though).

The only thing that has crossed my mind about organic meat ect,is that cattle are also given feed in the form of pellets,which are similar to the type you would feed a guinea pig or rabbit.Organic meat perhaps comes from cattle that has had organic pellets then?I'm guessing a bit here,because we didn't rear beef cattle,so could be wrong.

Organic veg CAN have certain chemicals sprayed on it,so it isn't automatically pesticide/herbicide free.A number of chemicals are passed by the Soil association for organic use.One thing about certified organic produce though-the soil it is grown in has to be tested for chemicals ect,by the SA,before you can officially call them organic.So I could grow tomatoes with no chemicals at all,but wouldn't be able to sell them as organic,becuse my soil hasn't been tested.I could sell them as pesticide/herbicide free though.

It is really hard to say whether organic is worth it,I'd like to think so,but I'm not sure.

binkybetsy Thu 03-Mar-05 20:56:30

Thanks for that spod! I hate cows milk, we drink soya milk only, that includes my kids too. HV has a small fit when she visits over their diet and keeps asking me if I want them to be referred to the dietician ffs

maisystar Thu 03-Mar-05 20:58:37

i don't buy any meat as we are veggy.

don't buy anything organic, always buy fruit and veg from the greengrocer not supermarket, buy mostly seasonal stuff.

used washable nappies.

recycle evrything and have a compost heap-ds and i produce one carrier bag of rubbish between us a week.

don't buy anything fair trade really cos of the cost but buy most bits and bobs(mainly wine) from the co-op.

Beatie Fri 04-Mar-05 15:47:44

We have our milk delivered from a local dairy... so the bottles are then recycled.

We always buy free range eggs and chicken. There is no way we would eat battery hens or condone the way those animals are kept.

We try to buy free-range or organic meat but we do not have a butcher near us so we're forced to use the supermarket. i have read that supermarket organic meat is packaged in the same place as their non-orgnaic meat and contamination occurs easily

Our local health food shop runs an organic vegetable and fruit box scheme which is sourced locally and is definitely cheaper than the supermarket. It also forces us to eat and cook with items we would never normally buy. Any left overs end up as soup.

I try to buy fair trade tea and coffee as it is not much more expensive.

I will also buy fruit and veg that's not organic - from the local green grocer - and sometimes from the supermarket on a bad day. I try to feed DD as much organic veg as possible, especially apples and grapes which get sprayed with pesticide A LOT of times. Baby's brains are still developing until 5 years old and what they eat is so important.

My local farmers market is a rip off though. The same farm which supplies our organic fruit and veg box through the healthfood shop charges much much more at the farmers market. It is mostly full of jams, chutneys, cheeses and cakes to appeal to the local Waitrose shoppers. They really do charge a premium.

I'd be happy just to know where my meat came from. It is difficult for farmers to get organic certification and just because they don't have it, doesn't mean their meat is crap. I do lean towards free-range where possible because it probably means the farmers care more about their products.

expatinscotland Fri 04-Mar-05 15:50:44

We are poor in money. We go to ASDA and buy whatever is cheap/on sale. We're lucky to have that choice at all. A lot of people I've met in life grew up hungry.

alicatsg Fri 04-Mar-05 16:02:28

Buy local from butchers/farmers markets/local green grocers etc where possible but not at ripoff farm shop prices near us.

Use bleach rather than sprays etc but do use disposable wipes and nappies. Generally don't buy things that we don't need because we haven't got the cash anyway, and things get used/worn till they're completely worn out.

tarantula Fri 04-Mar-05 16:14:44

Use washable nappies and flannels as wipes. Try to buy healthy food but mostly from supermarket as Greengocers/butchers is too expensive and am on very tight budget. Also I go to Sainsburys at 7/7.30 in the evening when I need to go shopping so as I can get all the bargains. he he have bought 5.99 TTD pizza for 10p before now . Rarely buy bread full price either. Love my bargains

Tortington Fri 04-Mar-05 17:06:21

its definatley harder making sure your kids get 5 kinds of veg a day when your on a budget and many people cant afford it. and we are not even talking about organic.

i always shopped to a budget - buy one get one free, trashy reconstituted meat, tins upon tins upton tins - i still do to a cetain extent. but since and not as less off as i used to be, i try and do my bit my Buying free range eggs, not buying any nestle products and trying not to buy and big brand names as thers usually an equal and far cheaper alternative.

we also have two local co operative stores and i dont mind paying a little extra as i know they have ethical values - but one store at one end of the street is charging 4p more than the other for washing up liquid and 7p more for a drink etc etc... so am in the midst of complaining to the co-op - i emailed them a couple of weeks ago never got a reply ( if anyone could help with an e-mail addy that would be great?) really pisses me off that one co-op could be taking the piss out of local poorer people who havent got cars to get to tesco.

so my bit consists of free range eggs, being carful down the coffee and cereal and shampoo aisles. we also have a milk man, i have recently started to ebay my old clothes ( recycling for profit) newspaper recycling - so am tryyyyyyyyying

motherinferior Sat 05-Mar-05 11:45:10

I agree with la Senora about organic being much better for the environment; I do also think Fair Trade is very important: I wouldn't dream of buying non-Fair Trade tea or coffee, and try with chocolate (I don't buy much chocolate anyway) and belong to an organic delivery scheme which sources a lot of Fair Trade produce. I buy far too many cheap clothes when I should be buying a few ones produced in circumstances which pay the producers a living wage and aren't filthily polluting.

WideWebWitch Sat 05-Mar-05 12:12:03

I don't think you're wasting your money. I buy organic and fairtrade food. On some things I don't buy it if I can't get organic. Meat, for example. I do think it's worth it as I don't like the idea of pesticides/antibiotics/other crap in my food and I want the farmer who grew my coffee paid a living wage ideally. Really all trade should be fair though shouldn't it? So I'm aware that it's all very much a drop in the ocean. The Sudan1 thing didn't bother me in terms of having eaten it, not in the least, because I don't buy processed food, very rarely buy anything non organic and I knew we wouldn't have eaten any. On checking the list, no, we hadn't. I do think we should ALL have the option to eat healthily, yes, and I think the demand for cheaper food (led by who? the supermarkets I suspect in the search for increased profits) led to producers being asked for cheaper prices, led to cost cutting measures (sheep brains fed to cattle = bse) and intensive methods, led to disasters like bse. I know it's not quite as simple as that but I do think we have a far from an ideal system of food production and distribution.

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