You’d think I had been out of the country for 20 years with the amount of salivating that occurred at the grocery store yesterday. It wasn’t just any grocery store though; it was an amazing little coop in my hometown that has expanded into a beautiful butterfly of a store. And so, I walked through it, drooling all over myself and throwing FAR too many things into my shopping cart. Because organic kale. And cashew cheese. And teff torillas. And personal care products that don’t contain a myriad of endocrine disrupting chemicals. ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS [sighs and then rolls eyes at self].
And then I looked around me and at my reaction to such things and went WOAH. The store was full of super hip hippies (if I had a better word for it, I’d use it, but I don’t, so I will). And I was in heaven. I was like a damn kid in a candy store. Were these my people? Part of the confusion was a result of my hometown all of a sudden feeling like Portland or Fairfax, CA (strangely, two of my most favorite places)… all hip and shit. Hip people who grow their own veggies. Hip people who consume hemp and chia seeds rather than resource consuming meat. Hip people who only buy locally and make their houses out of straw bale. Hip people who care about the planet they live on and the impact their choices make.
You see, where I’ve been for the past few months (Shenzhen, China) is most definitely NOT full of super hip hippies. Or anything that resembles a hippie for that matter (though, you do occasionally see a dreaded, shoeless, napping on the ground Chinese guy around – and they all look eerily similar and oh so out of place – we still haven’t figured out the mystery – YOU don’t happen to know, do you?). I often feel like I’m [one of the] only one[s] barking about the atrocious air/water quality and lack of clean/ORGANIC produce (though, I should mention, China has a more restrictive policy on GMO’s than many western countries). In those short months, I think I forgot that I’m not in fact [one of the] only one[s] who thinks about these things. Had I forgotten what my people looked like? I looked down at what I was wearing. No super hip hip bag. No super hip rustic cowgirl hat. No dreads. An arm full of bracelets, yes. No super hip locally made skirt. No handmade leather sandals. Fresh out of river bun, yes. No basket for my produce. No bag AT ALL, disposable paper bag used.
Here’s my deal. I care A LOT about all of these things, but I still kind of want to barf on myself when I reflect on my deep entrenchment in these very much elitist problems (i.e. those who have enough to worry about the details). I start to think of all of the suffering and malnourishment and turmoil occurring across the globe AND THEN, in the next thought, I think about how totally TERRIBLE it is that I can’t find raw honey and organic produce in China and I’m like… “come on hunny, stop your bitching. Relax. Your kids aren’t going to die if you put white sugar in the quinoa, rice flour scones this one time”. But then in the same reflection, I see the connection between feeding ourselves in a sustainable [healthier] manner and our planet, as a whole, becoming healthier [sustainable]. LOUD and CLEAR.
SO, when I look in a mirror at myself, I get a little confused. Am I a super hip hippie? Were those my people? I tend to live in shades of grey, so I think that the answer is yes!, depending on which day you’re asking. Most days I can find the resolve to live out my convictions (you can read about them, as well as our carnivorous children, here), but dammit, some days I just want a brownie or worse yet, barbequed honey pork. It’s true. Sometimes, I eat pork. Have you ever been to China? Let’s just say they’re pretty into pigs over there (I wrote a bit about it, in a post that kinda makes me feel like a broken record, quite a while ago, here). Point is, it takes A LOT of self discipline to live out ones strictest values ALL of the time, and well, I have two young kids, so sometimes, breaking down is merely a matter of survival (if you actually read the last linked post, now you understand the broken record bit).
What I DO know is that I very much took for granted living in the land of plenty (i.e. California), where you can find fresh, seasonal produce 12 months a year at a farmer’s market. Where you could taste test a different store bought nut milk every day for a month. Where there are more natural personal care product companies than cigarette brands. Where micro brews on tap and organic, fair trade coffee beans are the norm. [Where the water fountains flow with coconut water and the streets are paved with vegan chocolate chips.]
This isn’t my first travel rodeo, yet this is the first time I’ve been confronted by such a strong yearning for the goods that blossom in the land of plenty. Perhaps it’s partly because I’m more effected by my environment now that I’m traveling with kids, perhaps partly because it really is difficult to access clean food stuffs in China. Perhaps it’s just because I’m a hip, hippie.
At any rate, as you see below, we’re smuggling boat loads of plenty back with us, so we should be set for a
while few weeks.