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A Kid in a Candy Store

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 peoplePart 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.

Monday Mug Shot

Dress: Target (clearance – just about the only way I can get myself to buy their damn-them-for-having-such-cute-clothes, clothes)

Boots: Thrifted and Vintage ($15)

Owl Necklacce:  Thrifted and Gifted

iPhone case:  Adopted (once again)

BRAND HIGHLIGHT:  100% Pure

I can’t quite express how much I love this company.  My mug, especially, loves it.  LOVES.  Not only are they based AND manufactured in Oakland, CA (my home base for years), but all of their products are made from ONLY ingredients you can identify (and not just pronounce, but actually IDENTIFY).  All of their makeup is fruit pigmented, so, for instance, they’ll use blueberry extract to color their blue-black mascara (and to make it smell delicious).

All of their products are VEGAN and 100% FREE of Parabens/Sulfates/Phthalates, artificial fragrances and colors, and most are also Gluten free.  SO, you can feel good about using them on yourself and your kiddos.

Here are our favorites:

Blueberry Mascara

Cheek Tint

Tinted Moisturizer

Yummy Ice Cream Strawberry Body Wash & Shampoo (the kids choice, of course)

And I’m way not cool enough to have anyone sponsor my posts – so you can be sure my recommendation is oh-so-genuine.

 

 

The Freedom of Being Illiterate

Now I know what you’re thinking, illiteracy is no joking matter.  And you’re absolutely right, I mean that.  HOWEVER, taken out of the context of one’s own language and put into the context of a foreign tongue… let me enlighten you (or at the very least, explain to you).

As mentioned in my post yesterday, the art of communicating in a language you no next to nothing of, is quite infuriating and quite humbling (I may have left that part out, but it’s true).  This extends to most every form of communication (reading road signs, shop signs, and directions included)… with the exception of reading food labels.  I’m an AVID food label reader.  I like to know what I’m getting/choosing not to get myself into.  ALL THE TIME.  Well, guess what folks?  I can’t read Chinese characters (nor do I aspire to, ever) and as such, I’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT INGREDIENTS GO INTO ANYTHING PACKAGED (in China).  SO, you’d think the obvious answer would be to just boycott anything packaged, right?  Wrong. The answer is actually: pretend there ISN’T any partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, MSG (and a myriad of other things dreamed up in a lab), FREE YOURSELF!  Leave worrying about what potentially harmful consequences are lurking within your cells after consuming packaged snacks bought at the convenient store.

…right?  Maybe I got that wrong; that outlook is only excusable for so long (and in certain situations*, see below).

I’m here to tell you that this philosophy works well when you’re traveling and know that your time in that particular place is temporary, so sure, what harm is a package of local flavored Doritos really going to do (you don’t fully know a place until you know what flavored Doritos are offered there, winky face)?  And for the first few weeks here in China, it was sorta, kinda my outlook.  And then I was like, wait, I’M LIVING HERE NOW, this behavior MUST STOP.  But then I was like, come on, what about the children, the children!  This is the asterisk: the hardest part is having kids whose bodies tell them they should/could survive off of packaged crackers, candy, and cookies and when you’ve been dragging them around all day and they turn up starving (and all your normal go-to’s have been consumed) and your only option is a food kiosk where said packaged foods are the only convenient form of sustenance, you FOLD.  You buy the funny looking cracker sticks, flavor unknown, and pretend they’re not full of shit.

So, I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the end of consuming foods that could contain arsenic for all I know (I’m a realist), BUT THEY DON’T because what universe would do that to me when I’m illiterate?  Have some sympathy, for fuck’s sake.  I’m also going to pretend that feeling illiterate equals freedom, what other choice do I have?

And just in case a Chinese reader comes across this and calls me out on it, yes, I know the photo is of a bag of goji berries and as such, the label probably doesn’t have any other ingredients.  I had to make due with what I had in the house, and that was only healthy crap.  Don’t hold it against me… thanks.