A few really extraordinary friends of mine are asking important questions. “How can I tell people about it?” “When does it go live?” “What can I do to help?” I want to address these queries in one fell swoop, so that all of you (if you are so inclined) can hop on board and help my little engine up the hill.
I’m starting to see the disconnect. Those of my peers who will one day have the power to redefine agriculture, couldn’t care less. They send away plates full of half-eaten food, talk over the state legislator who is making a plea for local organic business support, and trip over themselves to shake a hand or make a “connection.” I understand. I do. I’m looking for work in a rough economy as well, but there are far more important things to do in the meantime.
The most rewarding aspect of composting is knowing that you’re reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, returning nutrients to the soil, and stemming the flow of greenhouse gases which decaying, shipped and buried garbage creates. So once you’ve started composting, it is your right to bask in the glory of your sustainable awesomeness.
The American diet has become a monochrome mess. Every plate seems to boast something between brown and yellow. Bread, potatoes, muffins, pies, cakes, queso, cookies, fries, chips, chicken, pancakes, corn, pasta, ground beef, cheese pizza… the list continues on and on. When is the last time you ate something magenta?
It isn’t hard to understand how we’ve become so detatched. We were sold microwaves, magazines, sitcoms, couches, meals in boxes and cans, and all sorts of useless ilk. We’ve become depressed, anxious and dull, and have forgotten our true potential. Almost as terrible; we’ve forgotten food.
For years, the common trend in food science and retail has been “convenience.” Everybody is scrambling to make a product that lazy louts the country over can buy at ridiculous mark-ups and continue buying. It’s an ingenius system, as far as commercial viability goes. You dumb down consumers by shrouding the kitchen with an air of mystery, allow them to prioritize a TV program over cooking, tell them you’re improving their quality of life by buying commercials on that TV program and Bam! A profitable, self-sustaining business model.
…At the cost of Americans, good taste, and the environment.
It isn’t 1955 any more. I don’t stay at home ironing in chiffon and washing dishes with rubber gloves, thank heavens. But if we can uproot the dated, preposterous societal girdle that was mid-century sexism in the house, how are we frozen in time with what lies just outside of it? What purpose does a lawn of grass serve? As far as I can tell, standing on my front porch, all it does is turn brown, collect garbage, smell like dog feces and tarnish an otherwise pretty Capital Hill neighborhood. And yet these are the yards that are legal. The beautiful ones that are groomed and full of life are “unsuitable.”
This Saturday morning, we volunteers at Clagett Farm did our best to get legitimate work done without being blown into the next county on a wind that could flash-freeze a cow. Because it’s almost time to set the Spring seeds in the ground, we busied ourselves with mixing soil and arranging seedlings… in the comfort of the greenhouse.
In short, we are the Capitol. We are the greedy few who manipulate those we exclude so that we are preposterously comfortable. And we recognize the landscape of the book because, in more ways than one, we’re living right on top of it. And rather than make ourselves uncomfortable with guilt and empathy, we put on our gilded blinders and talk instead about the book’s exhausted love-triangle, or the casting for the upcoming film adaptation.
These food labels are actually immeasurably valuable to a mindful consumer. The single second of time spent scanning the outside of a product could mean the difference between buying something sustainable, organic, humane, fair trade… or buying the other stuff.
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