I can trace my health and wellness journey back to my teen years. It was then that I was struck by the reality that I felt bad about animals being killed. A friend had hit a chicken with her car and was really upset about it and so was I! But the irony of sharing these tears over chicken burgers was not lost to my fourteen-year-old self.
My struggle toward mindful living could be seen in those early years but continues to be a major theme even now over twenty years later. It’s SO hard in our culture where mindless and passive consumption seems to be the norm. Just don’t think about it…
We all know that organic food is good for us, but is conventional “bad”? Is it really such a big deal if me or my kids eat something that has been grown using conventional pesticides?
Well, on an individual level, no, it’s not terrible, I don’t think? As a mom I’ve enjoyed taking a middle ground where we TRY to eat mostly organic but don’t stress about it too much. And I REALLY want to avoid making our food into a stressful thing.
What is the TRUE cost of “conventional” farming? A few years ago I read this article and it kind of blew my mind. Somehow the full effect of conventional farming was something I hadn’t really grasped before – the effect that crop dusting has on the farmers working the fields, the families living near by, the ground water and rivers that provide drinking water to the community, the nearby ecosystem of endangered animals, livestock that provide milk, cheese and meat to people. PEOPLE. FAMILIES. CHILDREN. Woah…
It just made and makes me sick to think that this is what is considered normal. Spraying toxic substances with KNOWN cancer causing chemicals onto our food and onto farmers and nearby families. And THIS is “normal” and “conventional”? And I’m the weird one for wanting to seek out organic?
In the past year or so I’ve been thinking more and more about where “stuff” comes from too. Discovering Konmari was super inspiring for me in this regard. The fact that consumption is the leading cause of global warming rather than just population is a very interesting and upsetting reality. Somehow I had managed to go 34 years without thinking about the environmental impact of manufacturing and the impact of manufacturing on the people who work in the factories, the families who live nearby and breathe in the pollution from the factories, the animals in the surrounding areas…
I think for most people (myself included) there is a disconnect between what it actually MEANS when we buy something. What is the impact on a broader scale? Where does the cotton for my new t-shirt come from? Who picked it? What was the factory like where it was made? What sorts of toxic chemicals were used in the growing, harvesting and manufacturing of it? The effects of GMO cotton seeds (Monsanto!!!) on the PEOPLE of the villages is upsetting for sure. Here’s a good recourse for seeking out ethical and fair trade clothing companies, and my favorite for affordable and ethical basics here.
The idea of “Fair Trade” being a thing you can choose is baffling to me too. Why is this a choice? Why is unethical treatment of workers “conventional” and we have to seek out clothes and food that were manufactured in ways that allow people to retain dignity and a minimal quality of life? Organic manufacturing tends to be better in this regard too, which is a good reminder to me when I’m feeling temped by low prices.
When my first baby was born I really tried to only put her in organic clothes. My reasoning behind it was that her skin was so delicate and I didn’t want chemicals seeping into her sweet little body. People thought that was strange. I’ve tried for years to buy mostly organic food to keep my family healthy. I always justify it with the idea that I am voting with my dollar and the more people who demand organic, the more affordable it will come for everyone.
I never thought about the REALLY important reason to choose organic though. The unseen and unheard PEOPLE who quietly work in the farms and factories. The FAMILIES who live nearby. I want to choose to support their health and quality of life too. Call me idealistic, I don’t care. That’s a compliment to me for sure. Because I WANT things to be better. I NEED to see the world start to heal from years of mistreatment and neglect. Our children NEED to grow up as gentle and mindful consumers. This is the REAL reason why choosing organic matters.
This is the kind of stuff that just screams “sustainable and joyful” to me. I really want to feel truly good and joyful about the choices I make as a consumer. Yes, it’s more expensive to buy this way. But what if we all just bought less? And I take it one day and one decision at a time. Because EVERYthing makes a difference. Even the smallest change matters. That being said, I’m far from perfect on this stuff. Sometimes convenience just wins out. But I’m trying!
What are your thoughts on this? Any good recourses for living a more mindful life as a consumer?