Friday, July 10, 2015

simple life - close encounters

Do you talk to strangers?

I do. All the time. LOL Sometimes these conversations are uplifting and sometimes they remind me just how far we still have to go in educating people on environmentally friendly changes we can make.

One day while shopping, I chatted with a produce employee. We were discussing local produce and organics and I mentioned how I hated that Trader Joe's* sells so much of their produce wrapped in plastic. She said that all chains are moving to this practice with organic produce because it can't touch non-organically grown food. If a customer picks up a piece of organic produce and sets it beside non-organically grown produce, the organic produce is no longer "organic" and can't be sold... they throw it away. Because it touched fruit/veg grown with pesticides that is also being sold. I know the rule is that they can't touch, but to just treat perfectly good food as trash? I then asked about bruised produce and anything past it's "perfect" state. Yep, they toss that too. How is this still happening? How? We live in a litigious society. That's how. Some people were buying the produce past its prime saying it was for livestock, then eating it themselves. If they got sick from it, they would sue. So now all this edible food is being thrown into the landfills because it's cheaper to do that than deal with a frivolous lawsuit. This is one of the things so wrong with our society. =(

*I truly love Trader Joe's! But this bugs the heck out of me. Please don't ask me to choose between organic with unnecessary trash and food grown with pesticides. This is a big part of why I'm trying to eat local as much as possible!

When I went away to college 20+ years ago, my first job was in a grocery in the produce department. I remember the day we were told we could no longer sell boxes of imperfect produce to people with goats and it all had to be thrown away. I thought it was crazy and wasteful then. Now, we know so much more! And it's still happening. In the brief time I was there, we also started locking the dumpsters to keep dumpster divers out for the same reason. Lawsuits. The thing that made even less sense? We were throwing away almost-fresh produce... but packing up day old cooked food from the deli (think dried up french fries and chicken tenders that had been sitting in the hot case, then in the cooler overnight - revolting stuff) to donate to a local food bank. *sigh*

And then there was the trip to the fabric store where when I mentioned how happy I was they carried an organic fabric line*, the employee said, "Why do I care if the fabric I use is organic or not?" I said cotton is one of the dirtiest crops, using the most pesticides/herbicides. Her response? "That affects me how?" Another customer nearby asked how much it was - $3.20/yd on clearance with a coupon - then said, "Oh, that's too much." I completely understand being on a budget, but I also know the fabric she was buying was costing her more than that. While I was thrilled finding organic cotton in adorable prints at such a low price, I'm also happy to pay more knowing that I'm supporting an industry that's trying to make better choices. I'll keep voting with my dollars!

*The saddest part is, it seems Joann Fabric has discontinued carrying the line. I'm hoping it's to bring in another line, but from speaking to employees at a couple stores, it seems it didn't sell well and they aren't going to carry it. It might have sold better if they'd marked it well as being organic and not just as "premium" fabric. Most employees don't seem to even know it's organic so if a customer asks, they say they don't have any organic cotton. 

Thankfully, most conversations I have with strangers are very uplifting and encouraging! There were the two young women, maybe mid-20s, I met in the cherry orchard who were not only choosing to buy local produce, but one is growing a lot of her own food organically and buys locally raised meats and the other is vegetarian. We chatted quite awhile about ethics and the environment and I'm pretty sure I convinced at least one of them to look for a used dehydrator. lol And then there was the young woman, early 20's I'd guess, at the feed store where I buy my dogs' food. She's trying to switch to all local for everything in the next 6 months! These encounters give me great hope for this generation of young adults!

So, maybe I didn't change the minds of the ladies at the fabric store, but I might have at least given them something to think about and when I went back over the weekend to pick up a couple of notions for my first skirt... all the organic cotton was gone. So I guess I'm not the only one who appreciated it! ;-) I love talking to strangers. Even when they have very different opinions than mine, there's always something to be gained from reaching out. Maybe just saying hi to someone will brighten their day. Even a simple smile may make someone's day turn around. Or, you might just meet a kindred spirit.

The next time you're out and about, I encourage you to talk to strangers! You never know who you'll meet. =)

1 comment:

  1. I am a bit of a shy/introverted person most of the time but I still try to talk to people I don't know. I've met some pretty great people by doing so and I've learned a lot of awesome things.

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please be kind =)