Thursday, July 7, 2011

first of july: green goal

Yikes! It's that time again.  But, first, an update: I recently purchased new green bath products per my March goal.  I got Dr. Bronner's soap as body wash (the peppermint one!) and I tried to use it as shampoo too, as I had read on numerous blogs that it's supposed to be better for your hair than regular shampoos, which contain sodium laurel sulfate.  However, while I really enjoy Dr. Bronner's as a body wash, I felt like it didn't wash out of my hair well and left my hair feeling oily and tangled.  I think when we run out of shampoo, I will try natural products made specifically for use as shampoo and conditioner instead of Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 soap.

I also bought Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day hand soap in lemon verbena scent. I should have bought a less kitchen-y scent, like lavender or apple. And finally, because my skin doesn't really like the humidity that is Kansas City in the summertime, I also purchased Yes to Blueberries face wipes and Burt's Bee's toner. So far, so good on the face front.

Annnnyyyywayyy, for July's green goal I am quite inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  I had been wanting to read this novel (I am quite a fan of Ms. Kinsolver) since its release in 2007 and was delighted to find it on Dan's sister's bookshelf.  I am not far enough into it yet to completely determine my new food goals, but so far the information in the book is inspiring me to really re-evaluate where I get my food from and when I get it.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle describes a year in the life of Kingsolver's family, when they decide to leave barren, arid Arizona for greener, more bountiful pastures in Virginia.  As a family, they vow to eat only things that are locally grown, either by their neighbors or themselves, for an entire year.  If they can't get something locally, they simply can't get it.  The novel truly is a family affair as both Kingsolver's husband, Steven L. Hopp, and her daugher, Camille Kingsolver, author columns for the book.

In describing part of the motivation behind their decision, Kingsolver talks about how the Colorado River is now being rerouted to Tuscon to supply the city with water.  "If it crosses your mind that water running through hundreds of miles of open ditch in a desert will evaporate and end up full of concentrated salt and muck, then let me just tell you, that kind of negative thinking will never get you elected to public office in the state of Arizona. When this giant new tap turned on, developers drew up plans to roll pink stucco subdivisions across the desert in all directions.  The rest of us were supposed to rejoice as the new flow rushed into our pipes, even as the city warned us this water was kind of special.  They said it was okay to drink, but don't put it in an aquarium because it would kill the fish." (Kingsolver, p. 4)

I am appalled at how poorly we, as a country, treat the earth.  This novel has forced me to open my eyes to how Americans (myself included) view their food and how we/I should probably change those views.  It's not that I didn't already know there are problems, I just wasn't aware of how deep-seeded our food to table disconnect is.  Reading it in black and white really forces me to think about my choices and how I can improve them.  For example, while I love being able to eat red peppers every month of the year, does it really make sense to do that?  Especially when I consider that, "[w]e're consuming about 400 gallons of oil a year per citizen...for agriculture.  Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles.  In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thirsty steps include processing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, warehousing, and refrigeration." (Hopp, p.5)

There will be more on this to come.  While I would love to completely change my eating habits immediately, I don't think that's reasonable.  Kingsolver and her family spent years planning out how they would do this.  So, while I'm not going to ban trips to the Price Chopper immediately, I am vowing to cook at least one meal a week that comes entirely from local sources.


  1. Have you read Fast Food Nation?