I was in a large warehouse store a few weeks ago standing in the giant refrigerator that houses the eggs and dairy and I was faced with a choice. In front of me were two different cartons of eggs. One contained regular large chicken eggs and the other, for a few dollars more, contained the same thing except it had that seductive FDA Certified Organic stamp of health prominently displayed on it’s label.
Now of course I know that organic classification is a flawed system and the idea of shopping at a corporate mega-store like the one I was standing in would cause many a locavore to flip like a flap jack but this story isn’t about validating organic food or supermarkets, it’s about making choices, just where we’re at.
So, there I stood, shivering amid the stacks of salted butter and gallons of milk and cream, unable to decide which pack of eggs to throw in the cart so I could escape to warmer temperatures. The regular carton contained six more eggs than the Organic one and it was three dollars cheaper. Of course these eggs no doubt were produced in cramped cages under appalling conditions and I really wasn’t saving that much. On the other hand buying the regular eggs meant I could make approximately three more meals of scrambled satisfaction and since I am a frugal bachelor, a few extra dollars in my pocket never hurt.
It’s this kind of minor dilemma that often seems to lay bare one’s true values. If I choose the regular eggs then I value moola, dinero, hard cash over the humane treatment of animals and my own health and well-being. For any well-informed, forward thinking individual it’s really a no-brainer.
I chose the regular eggs. Yeah that’s right, I chose the eggs born in misery so I could save a few lousy dollars. I’m not proud of it. I’d much rather have eggs from a happy healthy chicken but, since I’m on a tight budget and the smooth white shells effectively obscured their dubious origin, I grabbed the two-dozen specimens of animal cruelty and headed for the liquor aisle.
Honestly speaking, I’ve come a long way in how much I value healthy growing practices and eating habits. In fact the dilemma I just spoke of would have barely crossed my mind even a few years ago! Now, what I buy and don’t buy has changed dramatically and I’m happier for it. As for the choice I made in the over-sized fridge, I wouldn’t call it a particularly good one, but it was definitely a real one and I know people face similar choices all the time. And this is where Ripelist comes in.
Although locally made and grown food has captured the popular imagination, more often than not it takes a lot of green (the kind with US presidents printed on it) to actually eat it on a regular basis. This, I realized, was a problem. At some point while contemplating all this I realized people are making and growing stuff all around us, from backyard fruit trees and community gardens to hobbyist chicken farmers and folks like my old neighbor who made the best tamales ever! I then had the notion that if there was a simple, streamlined way to tap into this bounty, it could make local food a realistic option for everyone. Local would no longer just mean the small farmer outside of town, it would also mean the neighbor down the street with apples falling off her tree; communities feeding themselves. It’s not a new idea; in fact, it’s ancient, but I think in this case a step backwards would be a huge step forwards.
As far as buying eggs goes, I hope that one day I’ll be buying them from my neighbor and that choosing either the best quality eggs or the most affordable ones will be one and the same choice.
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