There's a new study that suggests that people who funnel all of their ethical initiative into buying organic foods are more likely to be dicks. Hooray, says I! And not just because I love dicks and saying hooray.
Some scientists at Loyola University found that research subjects who prefer organic groceries were more likely to make harsh moral judgments and less likely to volunteer their time to help others.
And indeed, the study is being roundly interpreted as "Buying Fair Trade Coffee Makes You a Butthole." A lady told TODAY (which is a wonderful show where lots of awesome sexy people work) that going to a farmer's market used to be a fun thing to do for people who own floppy sun hats, and now it's like "a 'Portlandia' skit." She got straight-up cloth bag shamed.
Said study author Kendall Eskine of the phenomenon:
There's a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous. I've noticed a lot of organic foods are marketed with moral terminology, like Honest Tea, and wondered if you exposed people to organic food, if it would make them pat themselves on the back for their moral and environmental choices. I wondered if they would be more altruistic or not.
It's been fashionable to make fun of social progessives since fingerless gloves and raggedy trousers were not an edgy fashion choice. And yes, everybody loves to hate on Whole Foods and the nightmare people who shop there on their way to yoga. But we NEED these people, because we also have lazy fat idiots like me who routinely buy six packs of TAB just for their otter-choking potential.
That's an overstatement, I admit, but a lot of us buy local or organic because it tastes better, or shop at Whole Foods because it's convenient and they have a good cheese section. On the flip side, a lot of us are shopping at Super Walmart and dressing our salads with AquaNet because derp derp derp we have to get home and watch "Say Yes: Bridesmaids."
Look, I admit: There are two grocery stores in the gentrifying commuter town in which I live. One is a locally owned natural foods store and the other is a chain, and I often go to the jankiest one possible because I like the anonymity and cheapness of the one that doesn't charge you for not bringing your own bags. I also admit that, having attended a liberal arts school in Vermont, I can get a little knee-jerk irritated by activism, because there are a segment of people who take up a cause in lieu a personality.
But the thing is, if people are doing good, I'm fine with their being assholes. We need these ambulatory puckered sphincters to effect the legal and social changes that a lot of us are too lazy or underinformed to initiate. I don't care if somebody is marching for LGBT rights because it's a warm day and they wanted a tan and are secretly indifferent to queer youth. If it does good, let 'em. Leave food snobs and their haunts be.
When other people make an ethical choice -- like being vegan or choosing kindly slaughtered meats or carrying a water bottle around until a recycling bin is available -- we should kind of chill out and let them do that an not suspect them of the high crime of being annoying at a dinner party.
Just because somebody is doing something good doesn't mean you're doing something bad. And if you ARE indeed doing something bad (like when I use plastic bags, all the damn time) it's your choice to feel bad about it or to be selectively sociopathic, like me. I had a pet duck growing up and I will eat duck liver but I choose to feel like a dirtbag about it. Sue me, I'm not Sarah Michelle Gellar in "Cruel Intentions."
If you choose to cart your waxy pesticide-poisoned fruits home in a plastic bag, or you choose to carry your quinoa salad in the mouth of an oily pelican you rescued from a cleanup site, I'm not going to judge you for it either way. I'm trying to make better choices, but hey, I buy pre-made artificially sweetened iced tea in a plastic jug and wash my hair with strawberry V05. I'm sure you have your reasons for the way you shop and eat.
But I'm glad somebody is willing to be a penis about it food, because I think these are the gatekeepers between us and Easy Mac made from dead people and Splenda.