I don't have a lot of brand preferences when it comes to food. It's important to me to keep our kitchen as organic and GMO-free as I can, working within the budget I have, so my considerations are generally to shop for the "cleanest" food I can find at the lowest price.
To my delight, both the large supermarket and the small, local grocer where I do most of my shopping have been expanding their selection of store-brand organics. We usually end up choosing those when they are offered simply because they are the least expensive.
Organic and all-natural products generally have some sort of little message on the box that says something along the lines of, "Even though we are a company that employes a zillion people around the world, we are moms and dads just like you, and this recipe was created by sweet little old apron-wearing grannies in a kitchen surrounded by rainbows and unicorn dust to be as healthy as possible for your family." (Paraphrased.)
The notes always make me roll my eyes a little. It takes a lot of grannies to churn thousands of pounds of organic butter every day! It's advertising. Take it with a grain of salt and use your common sense to know that even organic stuff is produced and packaged by relatively low-wage workers in gigantic factories.
Then one day I noticed the note on the back of a box of Kraft Organic Macaroni and Cheese.
First, let me say, before anyone else brings it up, I realize that "organic" and "healthy" are not synonymous and that orange-colored cheese dust is never going to pass the "is it real food" inspection. Often I make my own mac and cheese from… well… from actual mac and actual cheese. But sometimes we eat this. Judge me if you must.
Second, I should probably admit that Kraft is a brand that I pay attention to when I'm shopping. I notice them to avoid them. I thought the way they handled the recent petitions by the ladies at The Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food showed a distinct lack of class and disdain for the consumers that keep their company open. They did eventually cave to pressure… sort of… as little as possible…. but the whole thing just put me off their brand in a big way.
However, because there are only a few stores around me that carry organic choices they often sell out quickly and, sometimes, Kraft is what's left and I end up reluctantly giving them a bit of my money.
So, this one day I'm in the kitchen waiting for the noodles to cook and I happen to read the text on the box.
I look cool?
You think I chose the $2/box macaroni instead of the $.68 stuff because I wanted to be a trendsetter?
You really think that the consumers who make organic choices are that shallow and lame?
I buy organic food for my family because, after an absurd amount of research (no one should have to work so hard to find out what's in their food!), I decided it's the HEALTHIEST choice.
My family doesn't have a lot of money. Spending extra on organic food means we go without things that many people take for granted. If I wanted to look cool, I would whittle my groceries down to the lowest possible cost, buy the cheapest crap on the market and use my money to get some clothes that have never been previously worn by others. Maybe I'd even wildly splurge on a professional haircut and a manicure! I could indulge in cable TV. Imagine the luxury!
At least I can take comfort in knowing, as I stand in the checkout line with my mouse-brown ponytail and my decade-old clothes, that the grocery store cashier thinks I'm fabulous.
It's fair to say that I found Kraft's message offensive.
But then I started thinking… the majority of Americans do not make organic food choices. Is this how they see people who do?
Do those "in the mainstream" think that those who live a "crunchy" lifestyle are doing it because it's trendy at the moment?
It's not my experience. I started on this path because I was concerned about how many diapers I was putting in the landfill. That led to researching the effects of our modern society on our planet and on our bodies. Two years later I'm growing my own veggies from heirloom seeds and using baking soda deodorant.
The way I live now is, in many ways, more difficult than the way I lived before. Every choice is researched and thought out. I don't do it because it's cool or because a celebrity said I should or because I'm trying to make a statement to the world. I do it because these choices have made me feel stronger and healthier than I ever have and I want my children to grow up feeling strong and healthy.
Every single other person I know who strives for an "organic lifestyle" does so for the same reasons.
But I wonder…
Maybe we are in the minority because people in "the mainstream" see us just the way the box-writers at Kraft see us. Maybe people think that I'm buying organic salad dressing because Paul Newman has pretty blue eyes. Maybe they don't realize that the petroleum-based food dyes in the regular mac and cheese have been proven by the medical community to cause symptoms very like those of ADHD and autism and that they are limited or banned in most countries around the world because of their negative health effects.I am curious to know. What do you think? Do people buy organic to be trendy? Do "the crunchies" need to get better at explaining the reasons behind their choices? Do folks in the mainstream even want to know our reasons, or do you think that many of them are working on an "ignorance is bliss" mentality?
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!
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