An unusual title for a social science blog on IPE and International development, you may ask. Well this post comes in the wake of UK Channel 4’s fish week, featuring programmes such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight and Gordon Ramsay’s biased Shark’s Bait (ie. Ramsay wants to ban shark’s fin soup to save sharks). I have aired my views on the topics, especially Ramsay’s biased and totally under-researched campaign. The argument here is what should these TV personalities campaign on?
It’s all nice and good to push for ecological conservation but not the Ramsay way and not exactly towards creatures who won’t thank you for it. Anyway, this all made me wonder (especially for Michelin-starred Ramsay), how “ethical” are these chefs?
“Ethical” of course is defined in many ways. In the development arena, it is to be caring about society and individuals. (This also features in IPE as classical PE–Adam Smith and Karl Polanyi for example). In the last decade or so, it is featured heavily in the “fairtrade” movement–goods sold under an organisation’s label. Supposedly such goods are priced more expensive (sometimes) than normal goods. The rationale being that the producer of the good (in the developing world) will gain more income and will not be subjected to the poor standards of wages due to globalisation.
Another part of this “ethical” good is that it means “clean” standards–good working conditions, well treated labourers etc etc. So the customer indirectly cares for the producer. It is the Smithian idea of exchange and the Polyanian concept of trust. See more about fairtrade and Polyani/Smith in Watson (2005a, 2005b, 2007) (and other moral IPE academics).
Personally, fairtrade doesn’t make much of a change to development and is ethical but through a certain discourse. Back to the TV celebs and campaigning. So we campaign for fish. How about these campaigns dear Celebrity Chefs:
1)Making sure that all restaurant ingredients (in your and others) are from producers who emit low carbon emissions, do not destroy the environment, and most important of all, are not granted subsidies or tariffs that harm producers in the developing world
2)Pushing to have all Kitchen appliances–from the smallest spoon to the largest pot–made from companies that are environmentally friendly and again not granted subsidies or tarriffs that harm producers in developing countries
3)Making sure that your establishments–ie River Cottage or all the Ramsay Restaurants–are build from environmentally friendly items and that you offset your own carbon emissions.
3)And specifically for all Celebrity Chefs, don’t actively pursue copyright violations over goods that producers/consumers in developing countries wish to have at low prices. Here I’m talking about the TRIPS standards in the WTO which provide and unjust advantage to global corporations.
Campaigning to save animals lives, ok. But how about first campaign to improve the lives of fellow humans?
Watson, M, 2005a, “What Makes a Market Economy? Schumpeter, Smith and Walras on the Coordination Problem”, New Political Economy, 10 (2), pp.143-161.
Watson, M, 2005b, Foundations of International Political Economy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Watson, M, 2007,”Trade Justice and Individual Consumption Choices: Adam Smith’s Spectator Theory and the Moral Constitution of the Fair Trade Consumer”, European Journal of International Relations, 13 (3), 2007, pp.263-288