Friday, November 11, 2016

Why I Gave Organic Candy on Halloween

This post is in response to the many questions, side-eyes, eye-rolls, names (ehhem "food snob") and backhanded compliments that come my way on most holidays that involve food. Easter, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, birthdays, Christmas - many more in between - and of course, Halloween. If you're reading this, it's likely because you too have made the decision to detoxify or optimize your body, your life, the lives of your friends and family and ultimately the world we live in and you seek to support progress in our food culture. Because of that, I'm sure you've been on the receiving end of sometimes negative or passive aggressive comments and body language too.

I believe most people dish out these reactions, not because they are rude or disrespectful, but instead because they do not understand why I choose to buy and cook and bring and serve what I do. I can understand that. We've all cast judgement on someone at some point in our lives instead of seeking to understand. So, for anyone who wishes to better understand why I and others like me make some of the choices that we do, here is the #1 reason I handed out organic Halloween candy last week.

I choose to vote with my dollar. Everyday. Including Halloween.

Every purchase we make contains three choices: (1) what we choose to buy (Soup or Steak?); (2) which producer or brand we choose to buy it from (Amy's Organics or "Store"-brand?); and (3) where we choose to buy it (Walmart or Farmer's Market). I'm not here to tell anyone which path to take through this decision tree. I am, however, challenging all of us to more carefully consider these choices; and to recognize the power and opportunity each of us has to guide the future in the direction we wish it to move. Because when I choose to drive 5 miles further to shop at the only organic grocery store in my area and purchase Justin's Mini Peanut Butter Cups and YumEarth Organics Fruit Snacks with Real Fruit Juice for trick-or-treaters, what I am really doing is choosing to vote, with my dollar, for more organic markets and grocers, more organic versions of holiday mainstays and less big box superstores and food giants. 

My purchases - all of our purchases - will show up on a spreadsheet somewhere that will be used to determine which products are carried, by which brands, and at which stores. They show up in meetings where stores' futures - and their employees' futures - are decided. And they may or may not, end up in the pockets of lobbyists influencing our nation's food policies, subsidies and regulations. 

Your choices, your purchases, your dollars - hold more power than you may realize. 

This is why I handed out organic Halloween candy last week. It is why I will bring Organic Cranberry Sauce to Thanksgiving and hang Organic Candy Canes from my Christmas tree. 

It is not because I believe that I or my food are better than you or your food. It is not because I'm a snob or make more money or am trying to force my beliefs unto others. It's because I've nominated organic farms, organic markets, organic products and affordable prices as the leaders of a healthier future and I'm using my dollar to cast my vote.

Now, I guess I should address the giant elefante in the room:

It has been exactly 1,082 days since my last post. Wow.

Since that post was published back in November 2013, Jon and I have moved - twice. First, from Philadelphia, PA to Charleston, SC; and more recently from Charleston, SC to Northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. I have switched jobs, or companies rather - also twice. We've added a second fur baby to the family, Miss Brew, the boxer mix (more on her in another post). And...we got engaged. :) More on that in another post as well. Promise!

You may be wondering why after 1,082 days I've decided to return to La Vita Organica and write. Or why I haven't written in so long. Both great questions. The first I will tackle quickly today. The second I will tackle... tomorrow. Maybe. Or the next day. We'll see.

I was standing in the check out line at CVS during lunch time on Halloween. I was picking up a small basket to use to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood. Me and every other procrastinator within a ten mile radius. What they were also purchasing, that I was not, was bulk-size variety packs of Halloween staples: Hershey's, Snickers, Butterfingers, Doritos - the staples. So when it was my turn to pay the women behind the check-out counter asked if I needed any candy. I replied "No", that I planned to swing by MOM's (Mom's Organic Market - a regional organic grocery chain) next to pick some up. It was a short exchange, nothing the cashier would likely recall but ten minutes after I'd leave. But it stuck with me. Or rather, her eye roll stuck with me.

As I explained above, I don't fault her for rolling her eyes at me. I've received worse. "Snob" probably stings most, but even still, I recognize I may have reacted the same way six years ago before embarking on my journey. So, instead of choosing frustration with her and others I encounter, I am choosing to return to La Vita Organica to provide anyone interested with an opportunity to better understand me, my choices, my fellow organic foodies', and our lifestyles.

With that, as Ellen Degeneres says: "Be kind to one another."

LVO | Emily Rose Popson

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