Friday Follies: Sustainable Eating and Organic Crazy!

I know I haven’t done a Friday Follies since I did my e-obsessing for Downton Abbey and I figured it was about time for another mention of another one of my crazy passions! Before I go much further, I want to make a bit of a disclaimer that this is a subject I’m still in the midst of learning quite a bit about, and while I don’t have all the answers, I’m open to discussion as long as it remains respectful! That being said…

I can’t get enough of sustainable food, organic eating, homesteading dreams, and educating myself about some of the many flaws and dangers of the mass agricultural system. I’ve watched near every Netflix documentary I can get on the subject, and I’ve googled my way around dozens of blogs. I’ve read Michael Pollan’s book and even seen what the infamously cute Jonathan Safron Foer had to say about the subject. Beardman and I get in to fights about it all the time (while he acknowledges many of the same flaws in the system that I do, he’s much more ‘realistic’, he says, about the kind and timing of a change in the system we both think is bound to occur). While I don’t have the answers to all of the points I’ve seen made on both sides, I’ve come to believe the following so far: the Earth is broken, and largely because of human activity. The system we have now is full of cruelty and disrespect towards Nature and her wonderful routines and methods of survival. It’s causing not only sickness in our Earth, but in us and in our future generations. We owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves about where our food comes from, and to demand from those that provide the products we purchase that they do so from farms and organizations that don’t use mass feed lots, antibiotics in their feed, or corn to raise their animals on. I also believe that the way things are doing now IS NOT the way that they are supposed to be done, and that there ARE other ways of doing things that could potentially “feed the planet” in the way that we seem to think our current system does.

I believe that there are hidden costs to our so-called “cheap” foods, and that if it were economically possible, more people would shop local and organic than currently do. Because of this, I believe that it should be of political importance to provide the kind of economic and policy support to those farmers that farm organically, in a small-scale frame, and outside the current mode of mass agricultural production. I believe that this is a cause that will eventually have to come to a head, and as gas prices and health tolls become more and more evident and important, I only hope that the change comes without environmental or food-based disaster. I don’t want any of this to sound preachy, but after reading what I’ve read and watching what I’ve watched, I felt like I wanted a place to gather my “sustainable eating” manifesto! I invite you to check out any of the following sources, which I found the most helpful in helping me decided exactly what it was I did think on the issue of what I was eating and where it was coming from.

             

Because of a lot of things mentioned in these sources, Beardman and I have cut back on the amount of meat that we eat, have begun buying what meat, dairy, and produce we can from the farmers market or local organic grocery (we can’t afford to buy everything there, which is an eventual goal of mine, but we keep an eye on what’s on sale and go when we can), and have begun growing our own herbs, strawberries, and peppers, in order to try and keep cutting back on how much we contribute to a mass agriculture system I don’t really believe in. I’ll admit right here that this is pretty much all me – Beardman agrees with certain points but not others, and remains “pragmatically neutral” on the topic, but he sure does love me and goes with what he thinks is my craziness on this particular issue – but I don’t really mind that in this situation!

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Friday Follies: Can’t Get Enough of Downton Abbey

Hey guys! So, welcome to the first edition of Friday Follies, a weekly post that I’m contemplating actually following through on and doing every week, although its entirely possible that won’t happen, as the books that I’m getting through get more or less intense, respectively. Anyway, these posts are supposed to give you kind of a glimpse in to my world, and the other things that are keeping me wildly entertained when I’m not reading a book.

OH MY GOODNESS DOWNTON ABBEY. So, I may be the last person on the planet to finally hop on board the Downton Abbey train, so please forgive me if you’re all ‘Been there, done that, we’re on to a different Abbey now’. I’m still reveling in just how much I’m obsessed with the Grantham family and the people who serve them. This might come as the biggest shock, but Beardman is a fan of Downton as well. Right? Who saw that coming – “hey, babe, come watch this show where nothing really explodes and no one gets naked and they all talk in British accents and wear pretty clothes”, “Um….*crickets*” – but he thinks that Thomas is a creep and seems to have an abiding man-crush on both Lord Grantham and Bates. He also may or may not have a thing for that redheaded maid from the first season, Gwen, but I’ll cut him some slack, because Matthew isn’t a slouch to look at either:

Anywhosiewhats, I’ve been lying on the couch pretty much all week, watching the first two seasons marathon style (we’ll get in to how this might just resemble a slow slide in to depression and insanity sometime later) without taking breaks for things other than Diet Coke refills and more almonds, and maybe a shower if Beardman seems to be particularly off-put by my general appearance that day. Not only do I LOVE the clothes and the ways of speaking and the slightly antiquated (but endearing in that ‘the grass is always greener, isn’t the past great, don’t we all wish we could go back, class-consciousness be damned’ kind of way) notions of propriety and chivalry and all of those genteel English things, but I also think that this might be one of the most intriguing shows we’ve seen in a while in terms of investigating gender roles, feminism in history, and class relations. However, even with all that, this is a show that is most obviously driven by it’s characters. The ways that the family interact with each other, and with their staff, and the ways that the staff interact amongst themselves is what keeps me glued to the TV hour after hour after hour (after hour, if I’m being honest).

IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS I SUGGEST YOU STOP READING NOW (OR YOU COULD JUST GO WATCH DOWNTON)

The thing that’s really got me going right now is the relationship between Bates and Anna. Not only do I think that John Bates has the kind of quiet honor that makes real men, you know, manly, but Anna seems to be so selfless both in her love for John as well as her devotion to and respect for the Grantham family. All throughout the first season, the intrigue that was kept up with Bates and his past (and his creepy, slutty, conniving and all other manners of *blech* wife) ends up making him one of the truly sympathetic characters on the show, and the fact that Anna is willing to disgrace herself and become a mistress for him during the second season is, especially given the time period, an incredibly touching and brave show of affection on her part. I also think that I love them so much because, with all of drama going on with Matthew, Mary, the war, Sybil’s push for women’s independence, the Titanic, Thomas’s skeevery, and all the other claptrap that tends to surround the Grantham house, Bates and Anna serve as almost an island of peace and clarity (lets just ignore his arrest for the moment, shall we?). The two are able to find love in another as a way to escape some of the parts of themselves that they don’t like, and to hear the two of them starting a little hotel life with children…its brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. Which has been, honestly, several times now.

Lastly, before I wrap up a post that, to be honest, couldn’t ever be long enough to talk about all the things I want to talk about when it comes to my orgasmic love for appreciation of Downton Abbey is the underlying issues of feminism and class in the show. Obviously, the youngest daughter Sybil is to serve as our conduit for understanding the shifting roles of females and feminism at the time. I mean, she wants to work, she wants the vote, and SHE WANTS TO WEAR PANTS, DAMN IT. And while we also see a little of this in the first season with Gwen and her desire to be something other than a housemaid, I do wish that we could see a bit more of this notion from those in service, as opposed to those who actually reside in Downton. This points to a larger worldview of mine, however (that, while it’s hard to be a woman, its almost always harder to be a poor woman or a woman of color), and realize that not everyone may have this same problem with the show. This also leads to a discussion of class in the work, and this is the only part that kind of angers me about the show. Yes, I realize that’s the time period and culture that we’re operating in. But it seems to me to be benign indifference when Lord Grantham tells Matthew in the first season that if they didn’t hire the servants, then what would the servants do, because people get satisfaction and meaning from work, so of course they must love their work and should keep being servants. It’s the same line that plantation owners often used to keep slaves (well, they don’t know any better, so they like being slaves, plus we’re nice to our slaves so, its all good) and one that has always bothered me when it comes to interactions between those that have and those that have not. BUT LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY DRESSES, in the mean time.

Well, my lovelies, that’s all for now. I hope that you’re enjoying your Friday, and you have all kinds of good fun roll-in-ze-hay times this weekend. I’m watching Downton Abbey as I write this post, and Beardman just asked me if there was something else I wanted to watch (code:: can I play Skyrim now) to which I simply had to reply:

*Sorry if this post is a bit picture-heavy. I suggest you not Google “sweet Bates and Anna”, “Downton Abbey humor”, and/or “Downton Abbey GIFs” if you don’t want to spend your whole day trying to decide which exactly IS your favorite picture/GIF/source of hilarity