Sometimes, when I am trying to fight the good fight - buying local, organic, seasonal - I become a little deflated. For the most part, I feel like I do a great job but sometimes it just takes a lot of energy. And I feel like if I completely buy into the concept and it is difficult for me, then how am I ever going to convince others to do the same?
Last week, I had to go to a Starbucks for coffee. I drink coffee every day - at least once a day - and I have only gone to Starbucks twice in about five years. And both of those times had to do with client meetings where it was more prudent to go with the flow. Not spending my money at Starbucks is a personal decision - it has to do with their business practices. I don't really care if they are in business, I just choose to spend my money elsewhere.
I was in Rancho Mirage - out in the desert near Palm Springs. Everything there is very spread out and much of it is chain after chain after chain. I know that if I would have had more time, I would have been able to find another option, but the call of caffeine outweighed any energy I had to search for another location and I decided to just suck it up and go to Starbucks.
That experience left me with a new appreciation for trying to buy local in the suburbs. It is easy for me to espouse the greatness of buying local and frequenting non-chain stores when I am sitting in the mecca of San Francisco, and I give great credit to anyone who is fighting the good fight in areas where it is more difficult.
And there are so many things going on right now that are just against me - I am in an investment club and right now the stocks up for discussion include Coca-Cola, Kroger, Heinz, and Wrigley. If I had another ounce of energy to expend, I could come up with some more stocks to try and balance out the debate, but it is going to take more time than I have.
Last week, I went to UC Berkeley to hear Joel Salatin speak. Salatin is one of those great spokespeople about polycultural farming, small farming, and just all that is good in the food movement. He is a fantastic messenger because he has a clear pitch that is easy to understand by all parties. I have so much to say about what I heard from him.
Ever since last week, there is one point that he made that I keep harkening back to. Michael Pollan (you all know how much I love him), the host of the evening, asked Salatin what message he had for the consumer. He asked what we can all do in order to support the mission of the small farmer.
Salatin said that we all have to make food decisions throughout our day, and that sometimes we want to eat a Snickers bar, or that sometimes we have to have a bologna sandwich with our boss at lunchtime. But at the end of the day, the important question is who won - was it the "good guys" -- the small farms, the foods grown sustainably, or was it the "bad guys" -- the large corporately raised meats, the foods full of preservatives. He said that sometimes it will be a tie, and sometimes the bad guys will win. But if the good guys win more of the time than the bad guys then we will all be better off.
And that is what I have been holding on to. Because at the end of my days, the good guys do win. Even when I have to drink coffee at Starbucks. Even when I just found out that my kosher salt is produced by Cargill. And even when I have to buy stock in Coca-Cola.