An Organic Food Fight in the Cotswolds

From the UK’s Independent, a story on what can happen when rural communities meet large-scale “organic” consumerism: a fight breaks out.

Welcome to the sleek and sophisticated world of the award-winning Daylesford Organics, the personal vision of Carole, Lady Bamford, a former air hostess and the wife of Sir Anthony Bamford, head of the JCB empire, owner of the Daylesford estate and chum and host to Tony and Cherie Blair at their other home in the Caribbean.

But it is a world and a vision that has caused consternation among some local people, who accuse it of bringing unwanted and inappropriate commercialism to the Cotswolds, and conflict with the local council, who say the unauthorised expansion of its activities could result in court action.

As one resident of Stow-on-the-Wold, who asked not to be identified, put it: “The argument over Daylesford encapsulates the argument over what we want to visit the countryside for. Do we want it to be somewhere where we can go walking or riding or fishing? Or is it somewhere where we just go to consume luxury goods being sold as part of a lifestyle package?”

Of course, we’re seeing the same thing here in the US with the expansion of companies like Whole Foods. The problem isn’t necessarily what they’re selling (and I think the idea of selling an “organic lifestyle” is good thing), but rather is a result of taking a small-scale model to a larger one. As the article points out, the Daylesford “farm shop” is anything but, just as Whole Foods isn’t a farmer’s market: rather, we see mass production, international sourcing and homogenization. I like nice things and good food, too, but there comes a point where the fashionable element seems to overtake the original vision of organic and sustainable; pretty soon, this radical idea of sustainable consumption becomes yet another example of the same old thing. It’s classier than Wal-Mart, but its still modeling some of that company’s (and others) least desirable attributes.

Categories: , , , , , ,

One comment
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *