What’s the cost?

Whom ever discovered the use of borax in the laundry, thank you.  Whom ever advocated for vinegar and baking soda for many household uses, thank you too.  I look at the chemicals lists on the back of various items in the cleaning isle at the grocery and wince.

It’s bad enough that food stuffs don’t have to put where they source/manufacture their goods any more, just where they are distributed from (which tells you precisely nothing- only that the item sat in a warehouse and then got shipped to your store); and what’s in a supposedly edible food stuff can have such descriptive terms as “natural flavoring”, and various terms that again- mean squat-anything they please.  The GOP is trying to decimate the FDA, and various groups cry foul over corruption and payoffs, or not enough inspectors and too many holes in the rules.  It’s a wonder there is anything truly edible or usable that won’t kill us.

After several years, we are finally figuring out how to do our large garden.  This year we built it up over a foot and boxed it in.  We used ground cover and mulch to keep weeds down.  We still got hit by a wicked fungus that took my zucchini and other squash plants in only two weeks.  We are figuring out staggered planting, even of the same plant types.  We’ve got drip hoses under the mulch covered.   Still so much to learn, but the rewards have been gratifying and healthy.  We bought our half a steer from Polyface farms (organic and crazily progressive in their approach to farming:  http://www.polyfacefarms.com/).  We are trying.  We don’t smoke.  We drink alcohol on rare occasions and in moderation. We only eat out if it is worth it- something we can’t make ourselves or is of high quality.  We eschew fast food and chain food.  We have our weaknesses, but try not to indulge often.  We need to exercise more, but still manage to walk the kids to school and the like.

I’d like to think our careful, considered efforts at being healthy are not contradicted by poor planning on the part of local water officials (hydrofracking, farm run off and lack of responsible chemicals use, and pharmaceuticals not cleansed by water filters are some of our concerns).  I’d like to think school lunches are not co-opted by the cheap and easy path (even though we pack for our kids most days).  I’d like to think the citizens of the valley we live in would take more interest in the abysmal air quality we usually have and the industrial and business truck emissions that go so woefully unregulated and unchecked.   But we do what we can.

It comes as no surprise when the latest food or chemical scandal hits.  I also wonder, with all the protein/meat recalls, you would think the largest purchasers of protein- fast/chain food restaurants- would at least once be the subject of these recalls.  Funny how they are never mentioned.  Not just funny, but statistically impossible to go unaffected when compared with the macro numbers.   We do our best- it is a fair expectation that those entrusted with systems beyond our control do theirs too, and not poison consumers outright for sheer greed.

The fight to keep a clean house is constant.  Not just picking things up, but keeping it clean.  Devoid of fungus, mold, dirt, insects, an overabundance of bacteria, and various detritus. The fight to feed one’s family is always tricky, too.  The little mentioned domestic domain is a big cash cow for corporations, and the subject of a large percentage of advertising.  That some of us are dropping back to less expensive, and less toxic methods of managing this domestic space should come as no surprise.  Grandma had it right about a lot of things; how to read quality in clothing, how to simplify, and in general how to judge what is truly important and what is not.  In the midst of all the economic global chaos, I can take comfort in one thing:  maybe a positive outcome will be people learning how to do for themselves again, simplifying, and saying no to the toxic (both tangible and metaphoric).  One can hope.  Some days, that’s all we have.

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