I tossed around a few ideas before Drew and I settled on giving up China.
"Should we buy local-only for a year?" I wondered, before remembering that the clothing boutique I duck into every once in a while doesn't actually make the clothes locally - the dress I bought there was...well, you know the rest.
"Maybe we should only buy American-made goods," I said next. But there was something wrong with that idea too. If you haven't noticed, there are very few products made in this country of ours. I would have to resign myself to buying next to nothing for a year: no clothes, linens, tools, odds and ends, you get the picture.
We decided on China because I had always wanted to give it up and it seemed do-able.
I've acquired a lot of new interests this spring. One is a keen desire to know where the things I buy and the food I eat come from. And I do believe I have Asheville to thank for it. Imagine a brightly colored piece of art - circles here, horizontal lines sprouting from there, dabs of paint mushrooming in a corner to the left - set against a very neutral backdrop and you have Asheville. I find myself harboring a passionate love/dislike relationship (more on the latter later) with this city. If you find yourself pondering green thoughts, nibbling on locally raised meat and produce, and wondering how you can be a good steward of this great earth of ours, you might want to seriously consider moving to Asheville. That is what this place and the people in it are all about.
I began thinking about food first. My mom fullfilled a long-time passion of hers by getting chickens. This meant that I began receiving fresh eggs (brown on the outside, with a very orangy-yellow yolk inside) and I was able to see, first hand, what the life of a happy, healthy chicken looks like (versus that of a
factory chicken cramped inside with thousands of others).
*Note: my mom's chickens aren't free-range. That would mean they are free to roam where they please and her flock would quickly dwindle down to nothing, as hawks love chicken for dinner.
Mom's chickens have a fenced-in run made of chicken wire, a portable run (or what I call their play-pen) that Mom moves to different parts of the yard so the chickens can scrounge up a new supply of grubs, and a snug coop for egg-laying time. Hermione, Henny, and Hannah (last name "Montana") live a very good life. When they don't lay, Mom doesn't pump them with hormones or kill them. Chickens have a laying cycle and sometime, the ladies just don't produce any eggs.
1. When Mom down-sized from six chickens to only three, our supply of free, locally grown eggs ran out (for me and Drew, at least!). I decided that I wasn't going to buy anymore $1.99 eggs from Ingles. Instead, I started buying eggs from Hickory Nut Gap Farm - a farm I've personally visited - via my organic food store for $3.50. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Definitely. I know that my eggs are antibiotic and hormone-free, they're laid only thirty minutes away in the town of Fairview, and the chickens they come from enjoy a free-range lifestyle.
2. I try to buy only locally raised meat. It it can't be local (for example, I believe the local farms only slaughter their chickens at certain times of year, so it's not always available), it's organic meat that came from Pennsylvania or Montana. Again, my meat is anibiotic and hormone-free and comes from animals that aren't being penned in with thousands of others.
The eggs'n meat thing began last fall. Following that train of thought, I started thinking about communist China and all the Chinese products I buy.Two questions loomed in front of me: a) What am I putting into my body & bringing into my home? and b) Who is being hurt in the process?
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those animal activists who thinks animals = humans. Drew and I will not take out insurance on our cats, bury them in a pet cemetery one day, or equate their life in any way as being equal to that of a human's. I do, however, think that all living things should be treated with respect. If I live in freedom, going where I want and seeing who I want, why should I support a government that enslaves its people? If I don't force my cats to live out their lives in a tiny, dark, closet, why should chickens and cows be forced to live this way?
There is a lot right with our country right now and a lot wrong with it. I don't want to focus entirely on one or the other. If I think only about the first, I'll spend my life wearing rose-colored glasses. If I go with the latter, I'll lose sight of all that IS good and beautiful in America. Contrary to the vibes I sometimes get from my libral Asheville neighbors, this country is not quite running to the dogs at 156 mph.
A healthy balance is what I'm looking for...
As I ruminate on my China boycott, I've decided that I might occasionally address other matters, such as the evils of corn, why I passionately dislike Walmart, or how excited I am about canning salsa this fall. Oh, the glories of free speech!