Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daily Budget

I've been thinking about this concept of "green" a lot lately. I'm starting to get it. For a rural agricultural producer the "green trend" is a little puzzling. Especially the part where people who would starve to death in a month if the oil got shut off recommend earnestly that you go "organic."

The green trend seems to be a consciousness-raising campaign for consumers - all the people who work in offices and who sip lattes and have no idea where the coffee, milk and paper-cup came from.

At it's best "green" seems to be shorthand for "lessen mindless waste of resources and yet not give up any of the comforts of being a privileged citizen of the first world."

Here's the part where it gets dicey. I saw a clip of "Food Inc." where someone says "consumers have to demand healthy food!" That word "demand" bothers me. We've created a "consumer society" in the US. So demanding something as a consumer can be very effective in the short run. And healthier food is certainly a valid issue as 90% of the stuff in the average store (even health food store) is rubbish. Convenient rubbish. But demand only works if : 1. there is a solvent company/business model/ food system to make your demand upon, and 2. you support your demand by buying the healthier products and keeping the company/supply-chain that is trying to cater to your demand afloat. That word "demand" assumes a whole lot of work, organization, and management. Demanding is not enough. Everyone needs to look at their own lives and see what they are producing.

I've been reading a brain-candy-ish book on the oil industry "Oil on the Brain." The writer takes us on an oil-themed tour of the world: LA gas station, Long Beach refinery, East Texas oil rig, US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, NYMEX oil exchange, Venezuela, Chad, Nigeria, China, and back to the gas-station. None of it is very pretty. And yet this is what we are. It's how our lives work. We've all been eating oil for decades. What are we creating with it? I hope that it is more than a consumer lifestyle, which we will somewhat mitigate by being green. What is the point of all of our busy lives? How will we balance the budget of our own daily lives, so that we all produce or create a little more than we consume?

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