This month, the theme we chose for media content was “Conscious Consumerism.” If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen advice on buying local, greener gifting, and giving experiences rather than things. The theme helps us focus our message and our creativity for the month, and ensures we’re bringing you the best and most timely content possible. We gather inspiration from big events, holidays, and national observance days (ie: Nov 15th is “America Recycles Day”). The upcoming holiday season was the inspiration for “Conscious Consumerism.”
During our brainstorming session, one observance that came up was that November is “World Vegan Month.” A slightly…fiery…discussion ensued. For the Food & Water Security team, food choices are the most important aspect of responsible consumption–not only because we grow food at our “day job,” but also because we are farmers, we support farmers, and we see food sovereignty as the foundation of regional resiliency. Deeply connected with food choices are environmental consequences.
Veganism can be a divisive subject; polite discourse is often impossible when there is so much misunderstanding. Yes, as a culture, Westerners eat too much meat. We should consume less meat overall, and use meat like a condiment to flavor and enhance our vegetables, grains, and legumes. However, from an ecosystem approach, agriculture with properly managed livestock is the most sustainable and environmentally restorative.
It’s that time of year where we all turn our minds to the holidays. It is a time we’re supposed to spend cherishing loved ones, family, and friends. A time we are supposed to sit back and relax, to take a break from the stress of everyday life. Unfortunately, most people don’t feel that way about the holidays anymore – it has become a time where we feel obligated to meet all sorts of expectations, like finding the perfect gift for everyone, traveling far to see relatives, and spending time with extended family. A 2016 study indicates that 84% of consumers feel stressed out gift giving during the holidays.1
And what’s the point? Americans are accumulating more and more stuff, while facing the mental health issues that living in clutter can cause. Only 3.1% of the world’s children live in the United States, yet we buy 40% of toys produced globally.2 But we’re not just buying for our kids! Only 12% of the world’s population lives in North America and Western Europe, yet these regions account for 60% of private consumption spending.3 The $100 billion Americans spend on shoes, jewelry, and watches is more than we spend on higher education. Where does all this get us? Homes that have tripled in size in the last 50 years (which cause stress due to maintenance and upkeep), 62% of people with two-car garages can’t use one or more of the stalls, and 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage.4 Unfortunately, the amount of stress we experience at home is directly proportional to the amount of stuff we have accumulated. Clutter overloads our senses, robs us of mental energy, and leads us to feeling anxious, tired, and overwhelmed.5
Are you asking, just what is a conscious consumer? Well, it’s someone looking to have their purchases reflect their standards and principles. In some cases this is easier than in others, depending on access, information, interest, and time. Some of the elements to consider when thinking about whether you’re purchasing is in alignment with your values are as follows. Do you know how and where the item was manufactured? Are the materials renewable, environmentally friendly, recyclable, reusable, or simply waste at the end of the life of the product? Do the company’s values match yours? Is handmade and do you know the creator? And so on. You may create your list of “must haves” when shopping for items. This certainly may be an unfolding process too, where you refine that list as you become more intentional about the gifts you give.
As we move into the Holiday Season, our minds become focused on gift giving as our lives become inundated with holiday ads and promotions. As a culture, we’ve come to believe that we should show our affection for friends and family by gifting them items. We are all quite familiar with this process. Perhaps you are also familiar with having too much “stuff”, a situation many of us are in. It’s easy to accumulate items that don’t contribute to happiness and well-being. Perhaps this year, we go about gift-giving in a slightly more intention manner.
Thrift & Secondhand Shopping – Your dollar will go further purchasing gently used. Other benefits – you’ll find one-of-a-kind items, you aren’t directly supporting the creation of those goods, you are keeping items out of the waste stream, and depending on your favorite store and it’s affiliation, you may be funding the mission work of a non-profit (i.e. – Goodwill, Salvation Army, Common Goods, etc.). A great suggestion from HDT Staffer Nora, is to search out board games and/or movies that you enjoyed as a child, they make great sentimental, special gifts for new generations. Plus playing those games with the recipients is interactive and memorable.
Credit Patrick Q via Flickr Creative Commons
On Thursday, November 8, we gathered at Bites Bar and Grill for our annual holiday party. Our crew ate scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, laughed at the great games provided by Janis & Shirlee, snacked on delicious desserts made by Bites owner, Wendy, and then counted our blessings, one by one.
Door prizes were handed out for those that could guess how many beans were in a jar and we even played a form of HDT Jeopardy, to the delight of all participating.
A big thank you to the party planners, Janis, Shirlee, and Chris. I look forward to this night every year. Another success!
Poor Chris G. had to count out over 3,000 kidney beans. That poor guy!
Shirlee & Janis playing as emcees during the fun night.
Chris and Michelle G. all smiles.
Colin and Amy M. happy to be out of the house.
Jim and Audra C. posing for a picture between stories.
Quinn, Wayne, and Roy.
Robert and Janis discussing how much fun they’re having.
Robert and Terri share a laugh.
Paul shows off his door prize (a game night in!)
Rochester, only 19, won a gift basket of vodka and tequila. He quickly exchanged it for the game night prize. 🙂
Quinn and Roy show off their door prize of coffee from Stonehouse Coffee in Nisswa.
Dan and Michelle show off their door prize of a movie night at Bear Pause Theatre in Hackensack.
Being thankful is the reason for this event.
There are so many reasons to purchase your turkey from a farmer that is local. You can easily find out the conditions the turkey was raised in. You can find out what they feed the turkey. If you’re serious about looking locally for your Thanksgiving feast, Minnesota Grown is a valuable resource that will connect you with local producers throughout the year, not just for Thanksgiving. You can search for the local producer nearest you, or the one that best fits your values.
If you’re still on the fence about whether to go local or not, here are five reasons why searching locally is the best way to go.
- No Surprises
Buying a local free range turkey gives you the opportunity to know what you are eating and where it came from. Buying local gives you the ability to talk to your local farmer about their farming practices, feeding program, and processing program. You should do your research, of course.
Your Tom might be as big as this gorgeous fella.
- Just Look at Tom Turkey’s Home
Not really, but you can learn a lot by seeing how a farm raised turkeys are raised. If they’re brought up in a humane environment with the option to the great outdoors, you can check that off your list. They get their nutrition from pecking all day with additional quality feed from the local feed store (compared to the store bought turkeys that are cooped up and fed low quality medicated feed). To be sure of this, you should do your research, though.
- What Would you Pay for a Robust Local Economy?
Buying meats from your local farmer keeps money in your community. Shopping local keeps four times the money in your community’s economy compared to shopping at chains. The dollars spent locally go towards the regular things your local farmer buys! (How Quaint!) These include dentist bills, holiday presents, and other things that other “normal” people buy around town. So, shop local! Your farmer will thank you!
- Your Taste Buds will Thank You
Knowing where your meat is coming from, how it is raise, and how it is processed will automatically make you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner that much more. But the truth is, a farm fresh free range turkey tastes better. Usually, they are not pumped full of preservatives, saline, or other added ingredients. When you buy from your local farmer you are getting what you pay for… fresh turkey. But, as always when making a choice of this nature, you should do your research.
The growing season is coming to an end. Our garden is finally put to bed. In our 14th episode, we discuss what we did to put our garden to bed.
We also do a season-end review, bringing all the numbers and pounds of food produced.
In the third segment, we talk about a hugelkultur project added to the south field.