Friday, March 25, 2011

Make your dollars holler for a green future.

I recently discovered a wonderful, pure, fresh carrot juice at my supermarket. To top off the fabulousness factor, it is organic. I should back up and say that I do about 99.99999% of my food shopping at an excellent local health food store (Rollin' Oats, yay!) in my city and, until recently, I only used to go to the regular supermarket for certain things, mostly non-food items, such as pine cat litter and toilet paper, to name two. However, that may be about to change.

Publix, the supermarket chain I go to, recently tore down my regular and closest store, because it was the smallest, oldest one in the city, and they are rebuilding a shiny new one on the same spot. Meanwhile, those of us who shopped at that location have been sent packing (or, more accurately, shopping) to another Publix store, which turns out to be a fantastic one with a much greater selection of organics and “near organics”, if you will. Publix has a whole line of products (everything from meats to produce to the aforementioned pine cat litter to toilet paper) called their “Greenwise” line, and even though much of it is not certified organic, which would be my ideal for all the food items, it is all at least in some way(s) striving to be sustainably and/or humanely produced and healthier for us to consume. I appreciate a lot of things about Publix as a company (no, they are not paying me to write that, nor are they or any company in any way affiliated with my little bit of cyberspace here, a.k.a., this little blog of mine--I'm gonna let it shine!), and the Greenwise line is just one of them. I thought my old Publix had a good selection of Greenwise items, but the Publix that I now am going to while my regular one is being rebuilt has a MUCH expanded, better variety of Greenwise choices and I’ve been completely dazzled and wowed the two times I’ve been shopping there thus far.  My bedazzlement mainly stems from the fact that they have a FAR greater selection of fresh meats and produce, both of which are vitally important in my diet.

I also found this fresh carrot juice at that Publix, Odwalla brand, to be exact, and it is a good example of the type of thing that thrills me to find in a grocery store versus a health food store. In fact, my wonderful local health food store does not sell fresh carrot juice in the store itself (unless I’ve somehow missed seeing it, which doesn’t seem possible, since I practically live there and am intimately familiar with every aisle. When your diet consists primarily of fresh, chi-laden, perishable food, you shop often for groceries, although, God bless the invention of the freezer, or I’d be in there every DAY). They do have a cafe in which you can order fantastic, freshly-juiced carrot juice, but it is very expensive (understandably—it takes a lot of organic carrots to make a little carrot juice, plus it is kind of labor-intensive). The Odwalla juice at my Publix, by contrast, was only $6.99, which may sound like a lot, but that is for a fairly large, 64 fluid ounce (two quart) container. That’s a lot of carrot juice, although I personally could drink the entire thing in one fell swoop, if challenged to do so. The container says it has 8 servings. I happen to love carrot juice, so for me it is realistically more like 3 or 4 servings, as I like me a long, tall drink of carrot juice. Still, even if you only get three HUGE servings out of it, that is $2.33 per serving, which to me is very reasonable, considering the nutrition factor, the refreshing factor, and the deliciousness factor (and no, Odwalla is not paying me to write this blog, either—I just call ‘em like I see ‘em) of this juice, and considering that I’m on a healthy diet, and carrot juice is like a “treat” item to me, yet good for me, I think it is a far better and more economical treat than, say, folks running out to Starbucks and spending goodness knows what on a sugary, caffeine-laden, fat-laden, liquid dessert called some sort of “coffee” but which is more like “coffee-flavored addictive dessert in a cup”. Carrot juice has tons of Vitamin A and is bursting with chi (life energy).

I’d much rather have a big cuppa fresh carrot juice for "dessert" than a slice of wheat-laden, corn-syrupy, God-knows-what-laden cake with faux whipped cream on it. I don’t even have a taste for stuff like the latter, thank God. To me, it is faux food. Even homemade cake doesn’t tempt me, and not only because I know how bad wheat is for my particular blood type (O). I’ve never been a cake person. SALTY junk food, now there’s where I hang my addiction hat. But when I’m eating right for my type (I follow the The GenoType Diet), I’m in balance and not craving anything. And items like fresh carrot juice, which I haven’t had in years until rediscovering it at this Publix this week, are what make my diet so joyful and sustainable and keep me in fine fettle.

I am so happy to vote with my hard-earned green for green. When I choose to shop greenly, I’m voting for sustainability, for organics, for purity, for humane farming practices, for whole foods, for quality, for products produced in ways and by companies that respect nature and work in harmony with it, thus preserving and protecting it and ourselves.

Buying organic and/or as close as you can get, as with the Publix Greenwise line, may seem like a small thing that you are mainly doing for your own health and that of your family. But make no mistake about it: when you CHOOSE to spend your dollars on certified organic food or on products by companies that are trying to at least come close to that, like the Greenwise line at Publix, you are doing something very powerful to change the world, no less. Here in the USA, our right to vote with ballots is precious and powerful. Yet understand, voting with our dollars is profoundly powerful, too, because this is a capitalist society. Very few things speak louder here than MONEY and how consumers CHOOSE to spend it. By “voting” with our dollars for certified organic whenever possible, we are saying we not only want pure, junk-free, whole, high-quality, nutritious foods for our own health, but we also demand food that is humanely and sustainably raised. Humane agriculture is sustainable agriculture is healthy agriculture is a big piece of the puzzle in how we support the health of ourselves and our environment

Please note that it is very important to choose “certified organic” and not greenwashed, i.e., green lite, items that just say “natural” or something equally meaningless on them. And no, that doesn’t contradict my support above for the Publix Greenwise line, even though some of their food is not certified organic and thus does have room for improvement by really becoming certified organic. I feel the Greenwise line of meats and produce (some of which IS organic mind you, but in the meat department, some isn’t) is still worth choosing over their regular offerings, as again, back to my point, that way we are voting with our dollars and letting them know that we like the green direction and please take it even further, offer more certified organic items, we will buy them.

Like I said, items are simply “greenwashed” and not truly green if they just have meaningless marketing phrases on them like “natural”, but with companies like Publix that are really trying and really producing quality, purer (not purest, but purer) meats, for example, I think that is worth supporting and is certainly better for my own health and that of my family (read: pets...feeding them is yet another blog topic...so many blog topics, so little computer access). If a Greenwise meat item is not certified organic, for example, it has features about it that are specific and meaningful to me as a green consumer, such as: “Our chickens are completely free of antibiotics and added growth hormones”, etc. That is why I say such an item is truly worth supporting and choosing and is not simply greenwashed.  In my city, we don’t have a big, national health food store chain such as Whole Foods and, like I said, the selection of meats, particularly fresh meats, at my local health food store, is very limited. Therefore, by supporting grocery stores who are moving in that direction, even if they aren’t totally organic yet, we can send a powerful message.

Besides voting with our dollars, we can provide feedback to stores and companies on what we appreciate and what we would like to see. I told the Publix “Customer Service Team Leader” how much I appreciate their Greenwise line and how greatly expanded it is at that particular store than at the smaller store that is being rebuilt. I said I try to buy organic whenever I can, and I normally shop at the health food store, but Publix has so much more variety of meat, particularly fresh meat, that I am going to start buying more of their Greenwise stuff. I said I love how many varieties of bagged salads they have. I get SPECIFIC. I finished by singing the praises of fresh carrot juice, and then I was off, but not before she called after me “I’m glad you like what we’re doing—come back again!” and I shouted back “Oh, I will!”

THEN (today), I continued my personal green consumer revolution by writing the following email to the Odwalla company regarding their carrot juice:

“Just a quick note of appreciation to tell you how much I appreciate your fresh carrot juice, which I recently purchased at the Publix Supermarket on 4th Street North and 37th Ave North in St. Petersburg, FL. It is reasonably priced for such a high-quality, nutritious, pure, fresh item and what I really love is what you DON'T put in it: all it is, is pure, fresh carrot juice! Wu HUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Thanks for producing this healthy, delicious, fabulous product!”

I should have said I appreciate very much that is it certified organic, but I am ashamed to note that I honestly didn’t even notice that until today. And I call myself an organic consumer! In my defense, I was so bedazzled by everything around me in that section of the produce area that, when I quickly read the ingredients label, I just noticed that the sole ingredient was carrot juice not that it also said “organic”. Once I saw that carrot juice was the only ingredient, that container was in my cart faster than I could sing out “OMG, fresh, pure carrot juice!”, and I was back to looking all around me in wide-eyed wonder at all the colorful, chi-laden produce. Hosanna, I’ve hit the mother lode!

My point, after much rambling, is to remind my dear and hopefully green-leaning readers that the mundane act of shopping wields a LOT of power in this society. America is all about the consumer. We actually RULE, folks, so whether one likes or despises the fact that this is a consumer-driven culture, it is a fact. So why not make your dollars count towards what you believe in? As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you wish to see sustainable agriculture, humane treatment of animals and an end to factory farms and all the violence they do to animals and the environment, a healthier population, more whole, chi-laden food on your grocery store shelves, ethical companies thriving, and just generally a greener world, you have to CHOOSE that every day, in every way. And one important way is when you are filling your cart at the grocery store. Think about what you are “voting for” with every item you put in your cart. Cast your votes wisely!