a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...

she likes: making kites, dancing in the rain, adventures, little-while friends, letters, whole-leaf tea, crayons, bare feet, jumping in rivers/streams/creeks/waterfalls, language, catching the clock as it changes numbers, sleepovers, trains (big or small), cuddling & waking up before the sun rises, among other random things.

oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

on chickens and oatmeal cookies and freedom.

So this guy comes in to work the other day. He had a backpack and a whole bunch of junk in his hands he throws down on the counter, including a giant clipboard. Some part of me thinks to myself "Oh great, another guy with a petition. Don't talk to him too much or he'll try to get you to sign something."

He just wants some food. A slice of pumpkin bread and an oatmeal cookie. It's when I'm ringing him up that I get a good look at his petition sheet. It's one of those intense animal rights activist forms, with pictures of chickens cramped in cages and such. I like leading by example, personally. I'm not the biggest fan of violent tactics (and I personally think bloody pictures or videos of pigs being slammed into the ground or shot in the head with spikes or whatever is pretty violent... for a peaceful message - i.e. be kind to animals - it's an odd way of making your point in my mind), but I figure, hey. We're on the same side here. Usually animal rights activists love to hear about you being vegan.

So I casually mention, "Well hey, the only vegan food item we've got here is the molasses cookie, but it's damn good. Want me to switch out your outmeal for the molasses?"

He makes some comment about how molasses is gross and says he'll just go with what he ordered. On a for here plate so as to not create waste, of course. BUT he wants a copy of his receipt. No saving trees there. (I watched him later throw these away.)

As I'm swiping his debit card I look down and see the pictures of the chickens and I jokingly say, "I still can't believe you didn't go with the vegan cookie, man. I mean you're here for animal rights, with pictures of chickens, and you go ordering Starbucks oatmeal cookies and their corporate eggs?"

He looks up at me, straight in the eyes, totally 100% serious and he says, "There are eggs in this?"

(another beat)
(not sure how to respond)

Part of me is thinking "He's got to be joking." But he's not. Has he never made a cookie before? Has he never seen anyone make a cookie before? Is he really trying to get people to sign something against hurting chickens and he doesn't know that caged chicken eggs are in cookies? Especially big chain processed foods cookies?

He seems really upset about this. He all of a sudden wants to change his order. Switch out the oatmeal cookie for another slice of pumpkin bread. My mouth drops. My coworker slides up next to me and states in the perfect tone, "Ummm those have eggs in them, too, you know?" (Thank god for Nick sometimes, seriously.) He is outraged. Eggs in bread?!!! "Is this a common thing?" he wants to know. Well, usually not in standard bread (although there's almost always milk products), but sometimes, yes. But this is a pumpkin loaf. It's basically cake, but with a sly name that gets you to think it's healthier than it is. Almost all of the food items sold at Starbucks have either eggs or milk products in them. "Oh, well it's not the milk industry I'm up against. I trust those guys. It's the egg industry that's truly evil."

No words. I guess in the animal rights world some animals are worth sparing pain more than others. Whatever. Animal rights is not why I'm vegan. Let's not go there.

I apologize for our products having eggs in them. Ask him if he wants a refund. He looks around at the other customers, then back at me. No. He just wants another slice of pumpkin loaf. "I mean, it's bread. It's got to have less eggs than the cookie." He covers up his petition with his jacket and walks over to the corner table, scarfs it down and leaves in a hurry.

This might sound weird, a vegan dogging on an animal rights activist. But it's not about the cause. It's about integrity. If you want to get passionate about something, especially something radical, DO IT! Educate yourselves and then yeah, spread the word! Educate others! But don't go out and force intense ideas on other people, trying to change their minds and behavior about something as big as what we put into our bodies on a daily basis when you don't even understand the basic fundamentals. It is hypocritical and it is dangerous. Don't sell shit you don't know how to work yourself, you know what I mean? That's why we all secretly hate the slick salesmen. Because they pitch us shit we know they'd never use personally. It's sad that activism has come to that, too.

And it's sad that our solution is not to change our actions or even - gasp! - the system, but instead to make ourselves feel better. We learn "eggs are bad" and we agree. We want to do something about this terrible outrage. But then instead of opting to not eat eggs anymore, we choose the product with "less eggs" or "cage-free eggs" (which means absolutely nothing... it is a piss-poor excuse of a step in any direction and the fact that people buy into it is so laughable it makes me want to cry inside a little bit) not because it actually makes a difference (it doesn't) but because it makes our conscience feel better about it. We can say "this egg came from a free chicken" and we picture in our minds a happy chicken scratching away for worms in the sunshine somewhere next to a picturesque red barn or maybe a water-soaked wheelbarrow even though 90% of us have never seen a real live chicken in our entire life.

We have become so far removed from our food and what's in it and where it comes from that feeding ourselves has become totally and completely controlled by media and advertising. It's crazy!! So break free, my friends! Educate yourselves! Take a second to read one of those ridiculously long novel-like labels on your favorite foods and be amazed! Be appalled! Be moved! And please, above all else, don't be a hypocrite!

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