When I was a teenage girl, obsessed with having the latest fashions, mom took me shopping and taught me about purchasing quality items with excellent tailoring, quality fabrics and timeless style. She opined that buying fewer, better quality, beautiful clothes with classic lines, always within budget, was a better use of money and more fashionable in the long run. It was better to have three well-made sweaters than to spend the same amount of money on 20 sweaters that got tossed out the next season because they were stretched and pilled. Little did she know that “fast fashion” would become one of the world’s biggest pollutants (http://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-minimize-fashion-pollution).
Maybe this explains my love of cashmere? Joking aside, it is true that I gained immeasurably more pleasure by wearing clothes that fit well and looked good, even if a few less items hung in my closet. In the long run, mom was right.
Mom (and dad) taught us to live within our means, to spend our money on the things that matter. Live with less but live well. They taught us to choose quality over quantity.
These days, Patagonia, the clothing company, encourages its customers to buy fewer clothes by buying long lasting, quality items. They’ll even repair your torn Patagonia apparel for free and return it to you. This does not follow the normal, capitalist business model of constantly ramping up sales, that is certain.
Dare I say the same thing about the meat you eat? What kind of marketing plan encourages customers to buy less? That idea runs contrary to everything I was taught in business school. How can buying less be a sustainable business strategy? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by writing this?
What I do know is that overconsumption is killing our planet. We can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. Can we increase our personal well -being, happiness and quality of life while reducing our environmental footprint?
I believe we can live better by buying well and buying less. I think it comes down to discovering what brings true pleasure, knowing that “more is more” doesn’t work anymore. Over time, I’ve learned that pleasure is not only attained in a tactile, material sense with a purchase, but also in the quality of the experience and the values of the company with whom I’m choosing to do business.
I’m reading The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker. He tells of how fried chicken saved his life.
[In the book, he postulates that flavor is linked to nutrition for humans. We crave certain foods because we need the nutrients they provide. However, in modern times, we’ve added artificial and “natural” (not really natural) flavor enhancements to processed foods to the point that we’ve fooled our brains. We overeat in quest of nutrients we never find — we can’t stop eating Doritos! We only become obese.]
He writes that at some point in time, he started craving real flavours — he wanted food that “made me feel cleansed, energetic, recharged and clear.” (p. 137)
When he stumbled upon flavorful chicken from a local farmer, he was not only surprised at the flavor, but how little needed to eat to feel satiated. No more “McRegret” for indulging and feeling fatigued from overeating — “just love and happiness in unexpectedly small portions” (p. 143).
Food can be more than just fuel to get us to the next activity. Preparing, sharing and eating together can bring pure pleasure. Nothing fancy. Just simple food that tastes of itself, stands on its own and tastes how it’s supposed to taste.
My friends tease me that all I cook with is butter, salt and pepper — but really, often times, when you start with quality ingredients, that’s all you need! Seriously though, you need to try steak topped with melted butter — it’s divine.
On our farm, Kevin and I know we’re doing the right thing when someone tells us “Your chicken tastes like chicken!”, or “Your chicken tastes the way I remember on the farm.”, or “My kids could taste the difference between your ground beef and the stuff I quickly grabbed from the store the other night because our freezer was empty.” We want to surprise and delight you with flavor.
Maybe eating good food, raised right, grown close to home, really is like wearing a well-loved, cashmere sweater — a pleasurable experience worth every penny, time after time.