What’s Nature Got to Do with It?

I overheard the following at a dinner party recently and it got me going on my latest rant,

”But planting a garden doesn’t kill anyone.”

While our advanced technology has driven us to such extremes that to live in a society where tomatoes have to be specified as being ‘vine ripened’, the same society has also produced radicals who care more about animals and plants than they do their fellow humans.

For instance, the whole paleo movement is not only out of control, it’s also offensive and, literally, backwards. This leads me to ask, to what does the term ‘natural’ refer? How is the pasteurization of milk in order to prevent the contraction of the deadly tuberculosis infection an unnatural process if viewed as the evolution of a species? I have friends who actually do live in caves in remote parts of Africa and I know that they would prefer a more modern life.

Then, I come to the fact that our being vegan, vegetarian, Prius driving, biking riding, tithing, conscious, caring human beings has made us lose sight of what really matters. We care about our effects on animals, the environment, ‘the poor; (to whomever that refers), and the latest trend in giving. We avoid Walmart (oh, unless there’s a really good sale, and Sam’s doesn’t count of course), and we claim we’d love to do more like get all our food at the local farmer’s market, buy fair-trade coffee, make sure our cell phone company and bank support the causes we support, or investigate if our favorite clothing brand still uses sweatshops, but we just don’t have the time/money/resources.

So sure, planting that garden doesn’t kill anyone directly. Unless you buy your soil and seeds at Walmart (or affiliates), dose it with Miracle Grow, spray it with pesticides, water it with over-chlorinated tap-water, harvest it and use it all up in one dinner party so that you end up back at square one at the grocery store (or worse, Super Target). Further, from whom are you going to rent or buy the land upon which to plant? Do you have a permit to dig? Where are you going to get the money for supplies and time to grow? The clothes you will wear, from where do they come? Do you think about the people’s who made your life possible working conditions while drinking your iced lemonade from the fridge in your house?

I’m just saying think about it. Think about how cotton is grown (see Laura’s blog), how coffee is harvested, what it really means to grow organic food and raise grass-fed beef, who sews and dyes your clothing, your shoes, your plastics. Where does the money go that you give to your bank and your cell phone company every month. Think about the humans your buying effects before thinking about animals or the environment. I’m not suggesting forget about these, just think about humans first. There are alternatives and they aren’t inconvenient nor are they necessarily more expensive:

Rather than organic go local. Growing organic is becoming more and more labor intensive and costly for farmers and gardeners, forcing them to cut corners in labor practices.
Use cooperatives for food, bank, cell phone and other companies and groceries. Just use google and you’d be surprised how many cooperatives there are, all over in the world, for more things than you may think.

Research the ethics of clothing companies. Most of them are ruthless and will make you sick. It’s not just Walmart and it’s our fault for forcing the market to sell at such low prices in order to be competitive. You personally can make a difference by conserving your money and using it responsibly.

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