Friday, July 8, 2011

That's My Story, And I'm Stickin' To It

These days, it seems we have to take a semi-radical stand about most things.  Even as someone who only subscribes to the National Geographic, I know that our direction as Earth's human race needs to change, and now.  Of course larger groups of people are going to make a larger visible change, but that doesn't stop you and me from trying in our own teeny tiny ways.  There are loads things I try to support (or not) via my buying and lifestyle habits.  I try to only buy fair trade sugar/coffee/chocolate.  I don't use the clothes dryer unless I have to.  I try to generate less trash, buy organic dairy products, beans and grains, never go to big-box stores, think conscientiously about supporting only local businesses, craftspeople and farmers.  I never buy produce from the produce department, usually.  I try not to buy any processed foods, ever (except chips).  If I can cook it myself, I might as well.  And if I can't...well...guess I shouldn't eat it.

But those are all "tries".  I've bought non-fair trade sugar before.  Same goes for non-organic dairy products, and conventional produce.  I'll eat it if it's offered to me, and sometimes I'll even order it in a restaurant. I've bought apples from the produce department of Whole Foods, even when they're not in season (!).  There is nothing that I do that is one hundred percent consistent,  except this one thing:

I never, ever, ever eat meat that is from somewhere I don't know, unless it is absolutely and completely too rude to refuse.  For much longer and more involved versions regarding "vegetarianism" and other local food choices, each with a different take (and hopefully a little humility mixed in) visit my older posts here or here or...hmm...maybe here.  

The reason is, I think CAFO meat is bad, bad, bad (and more bad).  It's bad because of: the grainfedforcefedanimals, petroleum dependency, antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, mono cropping,  the bees, the ozone,  the runoff, the waste, the slaughterhouses, the workers, the land, all the living creatures, and, of course, most of all ME.  Because, whether we admit it or not, it all comes down to mememememe!  (or you).  There are way too many factors to ignore, and it's so so easy to just say "no, I won't support that, ever.  No authentic fajita, or pulled pork sandwich, or duck confit will change my mind."

So what good does it do?  Maybe a very small amount.  But think, I could be eating meat from "those places" every day, and I'm not.  I eat meat once every couple weeks, and it's from animals I met, who are helping the land not hurting it.  They are happy and healthy, grassfed and sun warmed, and are killed one at a time by men and women who are not risking their lives every time they punch in for work. I believe in supporting good instead of just "boycotting" the bad.   And you know what- I don't even care how small my difference is, I'm still not gonna change it.

I have some blanket rules for my life- Low impact as comfortable, Local when possible, Organic when reasonable, and Why buy clothes retail?  All things, I'm sure, can be improved on, and some things I should be more diligent about.  But I will always have that One Thing I'm not going to back down on, ever.   There is no "try" in this rule, and I like it that way.  It gives me some stability and also perspective into how hard I actually may or may not be trying with the other rules.

We all need at least one Story to Stick To, one thing that we don't do because we have to, but because we want to.   And every day, we should refine our other stories more.  Like, maybe I'll try to eat less chips.

So, if'n you wanna, tell me your story, the one that you stick to always and all the time.  I really want to hear it; maybe it's something I haven't even thought of yet and maybe sharing it will help grow the story into some small kind of change.  Ask Ben Franklin, small change one day makes big change, even if it's just a penny's worth.

Most of you know my email address, or just leave it in the comment box.


Devouring the Seasons said...

I love this post. It made my heart swell up. It's funny, my story tends to be a lot like yours. I feel the same way about CAFO meat and I try to buy organic whenever I possibly can. I haven't kicked my fast food habit, though, not entirely, so that's disappointing. But when I stop to think about it, there are a few things I've managed to stick to my guns on. Eggs, for one. It was such a simple switch, that I don't ever need to "cheat." I buy only local, pastured eggs (and currently chicken) as long as they're available. When it's too hot and the local hens aren't laying quite as much, I get localish (they come from a neighboring county) "free range" eggs from Whole Foods (yeah, I know, no guarantee they're pastured, but it's the best local eggs I can find at WF). This is rare because we have so many fantastic farmers and ranchers around. For the summer, so far, I haven't bought an ounce of CAFO meat, except for what my family sometimes gets at the drive through. I have a husband and a teenage son and old habits, as they say, die hard. But what I cook at home, I have control over, and I'm not going to waste my money and time on meat and produce that is wanting for nutrition and leaves me feeling nothing but guilty and depressed. The toll on the planet and on my soul just aren't worth it.

So, I guess that's my story. I buy it local and organic as often as I can, I stay away from processed crap nearly always, and I don't buy eggs from abused chickens on the other side of the country. Not anymore, not ever again. It's a small change, it's an easy change, but it's something I can hold onto. Like my North on the "Food Dollar Vote" compass.

~ Angela

Ann Tindell Keener said...

wooonderful! I agree about the eggs, and your reply likewise made my heart swell up

Cheryl S. said...

I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful local food letters. I have been devouring them over the past few days like a kid on Christmas morning. My husband Sam and I are new to clean living and eating locally but we are trying. We are finding that it's easier than we thought but that it's a process for us. I've always been an "all or nothing" person so I'm having a hard time not doing everything perfectly. But it's like you said about having the blanket rules for your life that can always be improved on.

Your letters are informative and I am looking forward to reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Funny, I had picked it up a couple of years back but I just couldn't get into it. At this stage of my life I believe that it will be enlightening. Sam and I are making our first trip to the Market on Main this coming Wednesday and we are so excited on what we are going to find.

Thanks again and I hope you keep on writing!