I completely forgot to post my Stick-It-To-Monsanto Monday post, yesterday, so I am borrowing a Tuesday post to do it, instead.
Why would a relatively rational, well-read modern woman suddenly choose to start handcrafting everything in her life? I can’t speak for everyone who has made this choice, but I would like to outline my story.
Historically, I am a fast-food eating, devil-may-care sort of consumer who doesn’t give a hoot about health. I never exercise and I love my body exactly the way it is, blub and all. I am not a health nut, and I have always eaten whatever I wanted, without even thinking about it, what it was made of, or where it came from. I ate what was easy and what tasted good to me. But recently, all that changed.
For me, three things happened almost simultaneously to change my life. One, I quit drinking. Now, I am not an alcoholic, as evidenced by the fact I was able to walk away from my beloved alcohol without a backward glance (or any annoying cravings, temptations or agonizing DTs), but my life needed a turn-around, and this seemed like a good thing to change, in order to bring about a different result. Two, I decided to spend my Number One drinking holiday, Superbowl weekend, doing a home yoga retreat, which included a (temporary) switch to whole, healthy food for the duration of the program. And 3, I finally realized the way to bring down Big Food, and likewise realized I had a role to play in its demise. Spend differently, and Big Food comes crashing down. And, even if it doesn’t, at least I am not supporting it.
My first discovery was I could make my own homemade yogurt. Mine is astronomically cheaper than store-bought, is better in quality, and contains no carageenen (whatever the hell that is!) or other weird words I don’t even know what they mean. (I am unsure if that is the correct spelling for this word, and when I right clicked on it to see, the word spelling choice offered to me was carcinogen…coincidence???)
Having aced the yogurt-making on the first try, I was inspired to attempt to make more things from scratch. Since then, I have made numerous types of cheeses, with varying success. I make all my own bread, and no longer buy boxes of anything at the store. If I want it, I make it from actual food items.
But all of these things take time. A lot of time. There is tremendous effort involved and some particulars which have to be done correctly in order to achieve the result I am seeking.
The time I spend waiting for milk to reach a specific temperature gives me a lot of time to think. It occurs to me that humans spent a lot of time to create the things they needed before Safeway came into being. They hauled their own water, grew and raised their own food and built the items they needed for comfort and safety. There was no such thing as boredom, insomnia, vegetarians or prozac. Their lives were filled with the “daily grind” and they took pride in their work, the product and in their lives.
Then came the “convenience” age. There was a machine to do everything. Nobody knew where their eggs came from, or who baked their bread. There occurred, over time, a complete disconnect between consumers and the origins of their food. They allowed factories and corporations to create their food and were all the happier for it, because they didn’t have to “worry about it”.
Fast forward to today. We, as a nation, aren’t at all “worried about” where our food comes from. We don’t care that even our very vegetables have come from seeds which have been changed, genetically, to make them easier to grow, ship and sell. Forget that the end result no longer even resembles vegetables of the past. We call those heirloom seeds, and they are gathered, by hand, from resultant plants, and can be recreated every year, without need of buying them.
This isn’t good for business, and there are actually political movements which intend for seed-saving to become illegal. Why would that be? It isn’t profitable for corporations who sell the seeds for us to make our own. These seeds also grow plants which strip the soil of nutrients, require vast amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers (surprise! also sold by that same corporation) in order to flourish.
In order to beat Big Food, we as a nation, must return to a place where we are interested in where our food comes from. Meat-eaters need to know what kind of conditions their food animals live in, to support mass-production. Vegetable eaters need to know what sort of changes have been made to their seeds that produce those gigantic, red tomatoes that look gorgeous, but taste like a sponge.
While I have become whole-heartedly invested in the revolution to return to Real Food, slow food, I realize there are millions who value their convenience more than the mindfulness necessary to make the changes that will begin to cost Big Food profit. It takes effort. Work, even, to turn your own kitchen around. And it’s not just the kitchen that needs a makeover. Take a look under your sink, where all the cleaners lurk. If you have small children, you already know what a haven of poison this cabinet of curiosities holds.
I cleaned my toilet with vinegar and baking soda, today. Sparkling clean, very little effort. I washed my clothes with washing soda, borax and castile soap. And, while I wouldn’t want kids eating any of these items, I am not terrified for their lives if they should decide to dump them all out onto the floor and begin playing in them.
I discovered that even my healthy salad was being topped with salad dressing that contained plane de-icer (propylene glycol). It was like the first time I saw the set of The Wizard of Oz, and recognized that the background in the distance was a painted curtain, and not an extensive magical land. Once you see it, you can never UnSee it.
So, when people ask me, “Why do you bother going to all that trouble?” I always say “Because I know better”. Was it not drinking anymore that gave me the clarity to see what I was eating? Maybe. Was it the success of that first batch of yogurt that gave me the confidence to try other things? Probably. Is it my determination to stop paying Monsanto to slowly, but ever so surely, poison me? Definitely. But mostly it is because I can’t UnSee the lie.
This is why I spend as many hours handcrafting my own products as I spend at work every week. It is why I am healthier than I have ever been. It is why I have actually lost weight, despite eating plenty of gorgeous, fatty yogurt every day. I am hoping that there will be folks who will happen upon this blog, and become inspired to handcraft even one item on a regular basis. Who will see what they can’t UnSee and begin to make changes in their own lives which help to bring down Big Food and Monsanto. If this message reaches even one person, it will have been worth it.
Happy Handcrafting, my beautiful blueberries!