Tuesday, March 08, 2011

We are all together

It would seem that for many people it is really easy to feel turned off by the eco-movement. Or worse, to kind of ignore it hoping it will just go away and let us live our lives in blissful overconsumption. It all started at last Saturday's swimming class with E (classe: Canard). In the changing room, she was the only baby with cloth diapers on. The only one. Nevermind that the pool is in the Pointe  and cloth diapers are cheaper than disposables  (I know, I know, I shouldn't make class-based sweeping generalizations). I kept rubbernecking to check out all the babies to make sure I wasn't just imagining it, and sure enough, there wasn't an AppleCheeks or a Bummis cover in sight. I guess because I myself thought so much about this part of having a baby, it was just normal to me to have cloth diapers and I thought that it was something that most people did these days. In fact, when we first started using them, I felt, and continue to feel, really good, like I was doing something significant, making a difference, you know? Not to mention that they are as cute as heck. When I had to use disposables (travelling, mainly), it felt like throwing garbage on the street. In public. And then hawking a loogie on it and blowing smoke in a pregnant lady's face for good measure. Still, most people, it would seem, are not moved.

So this got me thinking about the other major thing in a baby's life: food. We try as much as possible to buy organic food and feed organic food to E. The comment I hear most often is "Yeah, I wish I could do that but it is so expensive!"or "Really, you buy everything organic, even pasta and cereal?", as if grains are somehow exempt from the chemical soup that is conventional farming. I think that Food Inc. did a really good job of spelling out the problem: most people have a fantasy vision of where their food comes from. See the farmer wake up early to light the gas lamp in the barn and milk the cows, gently mooing. See his sweet-cheeked wife gather eggs into her checkered apron, throwing her head back to laugh at the chicks pecking at her toes. See the farmer boy forking steaming manure onto the vegetable garden and picking fresh tomatoes for an impromptu snack. They shade their eyes, and look to the city, where soon, they will take their milk and eggs and vegetables to sell in the market. Now, 'fess up, how many of you have this little fantasy? The truth of the matter is that here in Canada, small family farms are virtually extinct. The large farms rely on chemical fertilizers (no, no, they are super safe, really!), Monsanto seeds, heavy machinery, antibiotics and minimum area for livestock. I don't really want to go into what is done to animals on a conventional farm because it makes me so angry and depressed.

People know this. Of course they know this. The thing is, being eco-anything isn't sexy. It's wearing shapeless garments fashioned of hemp and scraping toddler snot off used toys. It's having no room for the 2000$ deck chair because your patio is covered with tomato plants drooping about. It's spending money on food, of all things, and then having less. And people, well, people want MORE.

I've been reading a book called Diary of an Eco-Builder by Will Anderson (those avant-garde Brits!). He built an eco-house in central London and blogged about it for the Independent. His columns are now in book form and it is brilliant. One thing he wrote really jumped off the page at me:
"If green living is all about sacrifice, forget it. We want more: more light, more comfort, more beauty, more health and more style. I am confident that a holistic approach to environmental specification will deliver a quality of life that is far superior to that offerred by a gas guzzling design."
Will Anderson, of the sexy stylish eco-house, I sing this for you. I, too, want MORE, not less. I want more clean water and more clean air. I want more untainted fish and more animals free to roam. I want more Alberta landscape to remain free from environmental holocaust. I want more ozone layer, not less. I want more vegetables crammed with wholesome flavour free from chemicals. I want more grains to produce seed for the next crop. I want more peace of mind. I want more health. For myself and for my family and, yes, for you reading this, I want more. 

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