Thursday, March 26, 2015

When It's All Just Buzzwords and Money.

I used to grow organic veggies.  Then organic got recognized as being a potential money-maker, and the government got involved, and after that to say your veggies were organic you had to go through a certification process--which involved a fee, of course, to the tune of several thousand dollars.  So, even though my gardening methods have not changed one bit, I no longer grow organic veggies.

Instead, I had naturally grown veggies.  But now naturally grown has been glommed onto as a catch phrase by every major food corporation there is, and I don't call mine that anymore, lest it give people the impression mine are just as tasteless and probably nutritionless as the ones in the grocery store with that label.  Mine are just vegetables, you know, the ones I grew in my garden.

My chickens free-range.  But, apparently, so do some of the millions of birds in commercial growing houses; the ones whose corporate owners 'care for' enough to get to live in a giant barn where there are no cages--only masses of birds jostling for floor space around automated feeders and waterers, wing to wing with no grass or bugs or fresh air.  So I don't really say much about free ranging any more when talking about my chickens.  My chickens know bugs and worms, grass and weeds, dirt and fresh air, sun and rain and snow, and I know they know those things.  That's how my chickens spend their lives.

My meals have been homemade for years.  Meaning, I peeled, washed, sliced, cooked, and otherwise prepared the foods we eat.  Did you know that you can get homemade mashed potatoes and baked goods at many grocery stores now?  Yep.  Made in the store =  "Homemade". Who, exactly, lives in the grocery store in order for it to qualify as a home?  Kind of discounts my own culinary creations by implying that the ones with the homemade sticker from the store are equal in quality to my own.  Used to be, a homemade cake came out of your oven, not the oven at the nearest bakery.

Farmers' Markets have gone big time.  Used to be they were a place where local small producers, whether farmer, gardener, or baker, could come together and sell their wares.  I don't know about you, but what I have seen in the last ten years is that the Farmers' Markets around me have slowly become less about locally produced foods by small and/or family businesses/farms, and more about businesses setting up a weekly booth at the Farmers' Market to tap into the customer base that attends such things.  Maybe I'm biased.  I managed one of the local markets for two seasons, in 2007 and 2008.  For a number of reasons, I resigned my position before the 2009 season started.  Whenever I happen to attend that particular market now as a customer, I don't see the farmers that were the mainstay of the market seven and eight years ago.  I see a lot of vendors with other stuff, most of it not even food; and quite a bit of what food there is was made in the kitchen of a restaurant/commercial bakery.  A place that has it's own storefront elsewhere.  To me, that is not what a farmers' market was intended to be.  Where are the local people behind the vendor tables?  When did local stop meaning someone you knew by name, maybe even where they lived, and start meaning someone somewhere vaguely close to your area maybe?

It makes me sad.  A good thing, taken advantage of in the name of profit by companies (or municipalities) more focused on a profit goal than on the spirit of the item.  The spirit that made that thing so desirable in the first place. The spirit of community, of sharing your talent with your neighbors.  Of offering to them, something that you have that they don't.

This week, there has been a big blow-up on a forum that I've been a member of for more than a decade.  As long as that forum has been around, in fact.  It has changed ownership a few times in recent years, and now is in the hands of a large corporation that is also involved with other large corporations, many of whom most members of the forum (myself included) do not want to be associated with.  This latest change in ownership was not well publicized; in fact, most of us members had no idea until a few days ago.  And now those owners have been caught doing something unethical with the content of the forum.  Something very akin to what has been done with organic, natural, free range, and local.  Abused.  Violated.  Degraded.  In the name of profit.  And we, the people, the lifeblood of that forum, are supposed to be placated by "oh, we're sorry.  But we're going to take some of that profit and make this a really cool forum for you."

We don't want a really cool forum.  We were there in the beginning, we were the ones who made the forum cool.  And we made it cool because we shared our talents with each other.  Because we wanted to.  Not because we were thinking "Hey, let's make this an awesome internet forum so that someday a big company will buy us and do all sorts of socially desirable techie stuff and draw people not really like us to our forum."

We, those who have been the life and soul of that forum, are mostly un-techie, don't care about the latest social media crazes, and have been living lifestyles that 10 & 20 years ago were weird. Lifestyles we came under fire for, were misunderstood for, had to defend ourselves for.  But now that  all things natural, organic, free-range, homemade and local now are trendy, apparently we aren't so weird, and we should allow ourselves to be exploited for corporate profit.

I don't think so.  I've always just wanted to live my own life, in the way I want to live it.  And be a mentor to others with the same aspirations.  That's it.

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