Saturday, December 15, 2018

it’s just peanut butter, right?

Dear Mothers,

I can’t win.

Even when it's something as ordinary as peanut butter, there are variables the sum of which equal a purchase I can feel good about.

I want organic. And not just for my health. While workers at organic farms endure what amounts to slave labor practices, at least they aren’t inhaling and touching poison like the men, women and children working chemical farms (in Doublespeak: conventional farms).

I want only peanuts. Not sugar. Not HFCS. Not hydrogenated vegetable oils. Go figure.

I want a glass container.  Recycling is undergoing a major shift and its future is unclear. Besides, I don’t want to support the petroleum-military-complex any more than necessary by buying plastic.

Buying glass means:
1) I can recycle it via Ripple
2) it'll be turned into something useful right here in our region
3) I'll be supporting a local business = supporting local families
4) less petroleum use
5) less plastic being shipped somewhere far for recycling or landfilled

Yes, all this goes through my mind as I shuffle through pretty much any store quoting Michael Douglas (albeit for different reasons) in Falling Down: “this whole shelf is suspect.” 

After navigating a vertical mile of PB, I finally found this:

organic peanut butter in a glass jar

I was so ecstatic, I missed this:

Palm oil is definitely NOT part of my good purchase equation.

Each time you see the words palm oil understand it means the loss of habitat. Translate that into dead orangutans. And elephants. And tigers. Understand it means the loss of indigenous, independent ways of life for a people. Understand it means the eradication of a carbon sink. Translate it into climate refugees. 

Sacrificing people + the planet = cheap food. In this equation, no one wins. 

Momrades, it is soul death to deny what we know in the service of variables that do not equal our integrity. If we do not make these seemingly minor choices with integrity, how will we train for the significant decisions climate change will force upon us?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

every vote counts

Dear Mothers,

I voted today, November 8, 2018. Yes, after the big election. Did you?

I went to the grocery to buy something for my fifth grader. Her class is having a party where they’ll be bobbing for apples. Only instead of apples, they want clementines.

I was asked to buy at least three bags for the 25 students because they may bob multiple times. As you may know, clementines don’t grow in the Midwest in November. The clementines I found were from Chile. That’s right: three bags of fruit from Chile for a class party.

Needless to say I lost my shit.

Here’s why.
1)   Do these students even know where Chile is?
2)   Or that this fruit traveled over five thousand miles to get here?
3)   Or that Chile is semi-arid and citrus is a water-intensive fruit?
4)   Do they know what fruit grows where?
5)   Or what fruit grows when?

If you’re going to eat something you didn’t produce yourself then at the very least learn something about where and who it came from and how it got to you. That is how you live, not just say, grace.

6)   Did they consider what conditions are like for those working the clementine groves?
7)   Do they know the majority of agricultural workers around the world are female, subject to unspeakable violence and little representation? 
8)  Do they know that climate change experts warn if we don’t change we’re essentially driving ourselves to extinction?

Caught in the web of capitalism, we are constantly buying things we need, desire or are required to (really basketball couch, my oldest daughter needs another set of Nike warm ups?). Last week we bought candy for Halloween and soon we'll be preparing for Thanksgiving. Many of our goods are made with palm oil. No doubt slave labor is involved because we like our stuff cheap. 

For the handful of days we go to the polls, we take the time to study the issues and candidates to make informed decisions. However the average American spends up to $100 daily. Beyond how an item fits our specific need, do we research its entire cradle to grave impact? That'd be like voting for Ocasio-Cortez because I like her lipstick. And yet daily we buy shiny without knowing its environmental and species politics. 

Capitalism is how we vote literally everyday.  And capitalism is killing our planet.

So Momrades, can you understand why I lost it?  

In the era of climate change, I’m buying three bags of clementines from Chile. If every vote truly counts, then in essence, I am casting my vote toward present-day injustice and the destruction of our children’s future. This is not how I want to vote. 


a momrade

Saturday, October 27, 2018

dear mothers,

I’ve been thinking about you. Every time I read about climate change I wonder if you’re reading too and what passes through your mind. My mind is on our children. I think about the things we do to prepare for their future. In fact we’ve been preparing since before they were born, haven’t we?

We ate the right foods, studied birthing options, became vigilant about safety and consulted Those-Who-Went-Before on everything from poop viscosity to piercings. Now my oldest is studying for the ACT. My middle practices her debate skills ALL. THE. TIME. and my youngest transforms every room into a Ninja warrior arena. I'm sure your children are pursuing adventures of their own. And I see you.

I see you at PTA and recital. I see you shuttling to practice then to Target for poster board while deciding which is less unhealthy: Sonic or McDonald’s as you live a life on the go, accommodating their busy schedules.

I see this in light of what I know about climate catastrophe.

I’ve been blogging about we’re doing to our soil, air, water and other living beings for nearly a decade. I also work in the environmental field with people striving to change corporate culture and public policy. I participate in workshops to increase communal awareness about a future worse than the dystopian novels my oldest is fond of.

And you know what? I’m often the only mom there with kids at home. That’s right. Rarely are there parents with school age children at gatherings focused on the planet’s health.

Where are you?

Of course I know where you are. You are at soccer, tutoring, driving  carpool, making dinner or helping with homework. 
You are attending to your child's present needs to ensure their well-being down the road.

Yet based on all existing evidence--beyond the scope of practices, meets and SATs--that future we’re preparing them for, won’t exist.

It won’t exist because everything on our planet is falling apart. In life’s relay, the earth we’re handing off to them is not the one handed off to us. What we don’t think about—stable weather patterns, breathable air, viable soil, clean and plentiful water, thriving ecosystems—is in severe crisis. The hopes we have for our children are predicated on a planetary stability that is profoundly disintegrating.

I often think we are the swindling tailors in the Emperor’s New Clothes. We weave pure illusion, duping our children regarding the naked facts of their eminent peril.  What we're currently doing will not ready them for the reality to come.

Our schools aren’t preparing them.
The enrichment activities we’re frenzied over won’t either.
Ironically, the externalized costs to the planet via fossil fuel expenditure and resources consumed for these activities jeopardize their futures even more.

Are you up at night wondering how to equip our children for this unprecedented reality? I am.

Only this time we cannot consult Those-Who-Went-Before. There isn’t a virtual or actual community sharing tips on how to thrive as a climate refugee, or after your island has been submerged, after the rivers have become toxic or dried up, after FEMA leaves or declines assistance, after the entire forest has been razed or burned. Or when you literally walk thousands of miles away from the only home you’ve ever known because there’s nothing to eat.

You know what else keeps me up at night? Children, just like ours, across the world, suffering because this future is already their present.

Ah but we’ve been here before, remember? When we first found out we were going to be mothers, we peered into a great unknown.  At the brink of that unprecedented reality, compelled by love and necessity, we got busy.  We prepared.

It’s that time again. 
In fact, we're already past due.

a momrade
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