Saturday, September 28, 2013

Buying Local

Now I have two!
A few weeks ago, after months and months of glorious sunshine and denial, we were hit with the reality of Seattle and rain. I quickly realized that the cheapish rain coat I had purchased a few years before (Outdoor Research coat - local - purchased at REI - also local) wasn't going to make it through another winter. I decided that it was time to treat myself to a nice cycling specific rain coat and reached out to Facebook for some suggestions. I got a bunch of ideas including a glorious Rapha rain coat (on sale) and an admonishment from a friend to buy local........

Buy local?  What?  I had my heart set on this beautiful Rapha (European) coat. And yes, they might carry Rapha at a local shop, but would it be on sale and would they have my size in a sale coat?  And did I want to drive across the city to find out? So, I did what anyone would do in 2013 and went online and spent 2 minutes buying my coat (and then feeling guilty)!  Unfortunately, as usually happens when you buy online, it wasn't quite right. Yes, it's an amazing coat (in fact so amazing that I couldn't convince myself to return it and have happily worn it multiple times), but it wasn't what I was looking for. The Rapha coat is fitted. I need a rain coat that I can stack lots of layers under and wear throughout the winter.

So, I was sitting at work mulling over this dilemma, wondering if I was going to drive around the city looking for the perfect coat and when I should do this. When suddenly I had a brilliant idea. I Googled bike shop and found one about 5 blocks from my work!  I headed out at lunch (on a brilliant 85 degree September day in Seattle), walked past lots of happy lunch eaters and found my new favorite bike shop. They had rain coats, bike lights and helmets (which I also need and could never buy online). They fix bikes during the day if I ever need to drop mine off in the morning. They have a dog. AND, they had just that morning gotten in these insane pink rain coats. I was NOT looking for a pink coat, but really this was impossible to pass up.

Look what it does in the dark, the online one pales in comparison.
So, in the end, my local purchase made me extra happy. I walked in the sun, supported a business owned by cool folk and even found a shop next door where I think I want to buy my new couch (I need one of those too). But, this whole thing got me thinking about buying local.  As many of you know, I live in Seattle, home of Nordstrom, Microsoft, REI and Amazon. And, in fact, I have spent my entire adult life working for one of those four companies. That means every thing I have purchased in the last 20+ years, local or not, has come from money spent by people mostly not buying local. The massages I've gotten, the home remodel I've done, the local meat and veggies I've purchased directly from the farmers in the farmer's market, has come from money spent in places all over the world. In fact, I pretty sure the reason Seattle currently has such a booming economy and lots of thriving local businesses (the reason my new bike shop could recently move to its new larger, prettier location), is because of money people all over the globe have spent supporting those four large businesses.

Not only that, but lately, buying online can mean supporting small local businesses (though maybe not in ones own neighborhood). Etsy allows designers (including a couple friends of mine) to make money through their art. The internet allows small start up businesses (including all my paleo cookbook/nutrition consultant peeps) to have thriving businesses that they would never have if they just opened a local shop.

I'm not saying that I don't agree with my friend. I know lots of small mom and pop businesses have very sadly and regrettably gone under due to behemoths such as Amazon or, even worse, Wal-mart (have never and will never buy anything there). But, I think there is more to the story than that. I think people should buy mindfully and that may include different things. I would never go into a store to try something, then google it and buy it cheaper online. (I'm more likely to research online then go to a store and pay more so I can get it right away.) But, I do  think there are different ways to buy local and I know that large companies are as beneficial and necessary to a local economy as small mom and pop businesses.

Pink coat + dog, if all businesses came with a dog, I'd never buy online.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Getting Buggy




"Oh, lord"

"I'm terrified"

There were the reactions generated by a recent Facebook post of mine, a post detailing an action I was about to take - bug eating. Or more specifically, CRICKET EATING.

For twenty years I was a vegetarian. For me it was never a moral issue, I actually believe that people were meant to eat meat and that meat protein is a much better and usable source of protein for humans. (As an aside, I do think there are moral implications. I think it's important to eat good meat. And I think it's important to eat happy animals that had a good life.) For me being a vegetarian was primarily for environmental reasons - producing meat (especially the way most meat is produced in this country), takes a lot of energy and wreaks havoc the environment. When I buy meat, I make sure the production of my meat has as little impact on the environment as possible. And I think pasture raised meat actually helps/heals the environment. But, while I can get and afford this type of meat, there are a shit load of people in this world and probably not enough land to generate quality meat for everyone. I worry about these things!

So, a couple years ago I was excited to read an article in the New Yorker about eating insects. Insects are a quality source of protein and producing them has a minuscule impact on the environment. There are places in the world that eat various types of bugs as a regular part of their diet. Of course, the US is not one of those. We all get super squeamish when we think about eating bugs. And you can certainly add me to that list. The article discussed eating meal worms or cockroaches all I could think was EW  - slimy gross garbage eating.  But somehow I wasn't opposed to crickets. Crickets sounded like they might be kind of crunchy and nutty and tasty when fried up.

So, imagine how excited I was when I heard that you can buy bars made of crickets!  There is a company called Chapul and they make bars from cricket flour. There are three flavors, Chaco (peanut butter and chocolate), Aztec (dark chocolate coffee and cayenne) and Thai (coconut, ginger and lime). And guess what, they are DELICIOUS. Really, it's like eating bugs 'lite'. They are so loaded up with chocolate and nuts and other tasty things, that really who would know you were crunching on a bug. I highly recommend them.

And now that I've eaten I few bugs, I'm ready to eat more - maybe even meal worms. I think maybe ground up as flour and made into things might be necessary, but bring on the bugs (though maybe never cockroaches)!