Monday, August 30

Will YOU Pay for Quality?

Did you read the article on Toledo Museum of Art's Glass Pavilion in the Wall Street Journal today? It's on the front page. I took great interest in reading it as I was just there this past summer (see post on Modigliani and roast pork). It is a well written article of the eye-opening kind. It explains that though the museum is the legacy of a local glass maker in honor of the city's glass-making past, the curved pavilion glass was imported from...China. The Shenzhen based manufacturer was willing to invest in the $500,000 equipment for making the intricate glass for the exterior of the building and is quoted as saying "US companies are too cautious, preferring standardized processes and easy money." What? Have the tables turned? When did the Chinese mount the high horse of quality?

My first thought was that American food production has indeed become all about standardized processes and easy money. Taste and quality have been forgotten along the path of production expansion and cost cutting. Small, local farmers are going bust as large scale farms use pesticides and chemical fertilizers with the single goal of widening profit margins.

It also made me think of the organic vegetable delivery I had just cancelled. My friend, Brown Sugar Cookie, had passed on details of an organic vegetable service to me and I had tried them out for a couple of weeks. Yes, the fruit was perfectly ripe and delicious and the vegetables was exceptionally tasty. Though they were smaller in size, even the colors were more vibrant. For those two weeks, I felt good that I was exposing my children to fewer chemicals and also felt empowered that I was supporting local farmers in NC. The delivery service even goes the extra mile of emailing you recipes for the delivered produce. How perfect for a foodie. Unfortunately, I felt that the quantity delivered was small for $30 and I kept thinking I could buy more at the farmers' market for the same cost. Not much difference between me and the American glass manufacturer who is not willing to pay for quality.

So, what should I do? More importantly, what would you do?



Sara Bowen said...

I ebb and flow on this decision. Some months I am all organic and local and some months I get upset and think the business of organic has to catch up with the cost and convenience of non-organic.

When I talk to the people in the know there is no clear answer to what is best (the produce people). So, honestly for now, I buy what is on sale. I worry about making my dollar go further and hope the savings will show up in time spent cooking good meals.

Cinnamon and Truffle said...

Dear Cinnamon, I'm so glad you asked this question! My husband always automatically picks up the organic produce in the supermarket, and I've traditionally gone for the 'normal' stuff without really thinking about it. Coincidentally, though, just this weekend I was wondering if I shouldn't follow his lead. My hunch is to go organic if possible. Even if it's a bit more expensive, in a few years, it's a cost you probably won't remember. But you'll reap the health benefits of eating food that doesn't have as many toxins and other added chemicals. Think of it as an investment in your health - you can save the money somewhere else. Also, if more people demand good, healthful produce, that might encourage more producers and maybe the prices could change in the longer term. I'll ask an economist for his views on that one... Love, Truffle

Autumn said...

Listen to Truffle. We do all organics, very little processed foods, and mostly (but not all) chemical-free personal care and cleaning products. This is one of my very favorite subjects--as Katie will tell you--so let us go to dinner one night and discuss. Xoxo

Rina said...

Definitely go for the organic vegetable delivery! Quality food should be enjoyed and farmers who produce them supported.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my sweet friend. The plums this week were divine. But I like Autumn's idea. Let's plan a night out to really discuss and analyze... And remember, there's no farmers market all winter! Hugs! BSC

Cinnamon and Truffle said...

Thank you all for your comments. Thanks to you, I have decided to go back to the organic delivery service.

Brown Sugar Cookie and Autumn, let's meet soon for dinner to discuss the finer things in life.



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