My last couple shopping trips have been….well, I don’t know whether to say discouraging or eye opening.
I went each time to grab a couple items and with the intent of finding fair trade items. I found none. Not saying there weren’t any in the store, but none of the items on my shopping list had fair trade options.
Meanwhile as I was looking closely at the packages, I started noticing other indications that certain brands may be more in tune with my family values than others. Naturally those brands tended to be more expensive. I cringed as I put a couple boxes of cereal into my cart that were about twice what I would normally pay, but they were non-GMO cereals, and I do worry about my cereal-loving family eating too many GMO products. I did buy one cereal that wasn’t marked as non-GMO but it used 100 percent recycled material for it’s bag. It was also more affordable than the other cereals. It would have been nice to have a non-GMO cereal in a recycled bag, but that option didn’t exist.
Passing a myriad of highly processed and overly packaged foods, I moved on to replace the curry in my spice rack. Torn between one that advertised it was organic and one that said it didn’t contain any MSG, I spent way too long studying the labels of both. They didn’t list ingredients, so I had no way of knowing if the organic curry had MSG or not. I finally chose the one that didn’t have MSG, but by this time my daughter and I were so tired of comparing labels that I only studied the label of the least expensive milk to make sure it wasn’t something horrible. And by the time we got to the marmalade, I just grabbed the off-brand jar without studying any further.
“This isn’t at all like the Little House days,” I thought. But I was at a loss as to how bring back the simplicity of grocery shopping that Laura’s family probably took for granted while at the same time making sure the foods I buy are good for my family, good for the environment, and don’t harm those involved in producing them.
That is, until later that afternoon when my friend came over. I had ordered some homemade laundry soap and bread from her, mostly as a way to help support her family while her husband is between jobs. But as I made that purchase, I realized this was the answer to my quandary.
“We use non-GMO wheat in our bread,” she told me as I was giving her directions to my house over the phone. I was impressed, considering her bread was less than we typically pay for a loaf of wheat bread.
But it was when she showed up with the products I ordered that I got really excited. “And when you’re done with this laundry soap, I’ll pick up the container so I can refill it,” she told me. I literally squealed with delight. No more packaging waste! This is precisely the reason I started the Prairie Green project to begin with.
And so, I have found my answer. I’m going to start buying what I can from individuals rather than corporations. I’ll start by making a list of who I know that sells homemade or homegrown products as well as local farmer’s markets.
Really, I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but as we all know, change is hard. Figuring out how to change my daily routine to work with this way of shopping is a challenge, but the benefits are many.
Here are just some of the benefits:
• healthier products
• more environmentally friendly products
• local products reduce fossil fuel use from transportation
• better tasting products
• more affordable products
• helping an individual pay their bills (rather than helping a corporation get richer)
• more social engagement while purchasing products
Looking at this list, I can’t help but wonder why I’ve been so slow to make this change in the first place!
Goodbye grocery stores. Hello food-producing friends!