To say that I want to leave New York is to say that a lion, originally captured from the wild whom has since sired a family in captivity, wants to leave the zoo. Like me I'm sure he dreams of taking his family to the wilds of "anywhere else but here," where a lion can hunt and a man can forge a new path, unencumbered by the cage that is New York, and it's full-throttle, billions of bees in an urban beehive, unapologetically impersonal, practically a green screen backdrop for a generic bullshit filled life of people that I hate, yet find myself one of, imposes on one whom doesn't want to be captured anymore by it's tarnished, crusty, fake-jewelry sparkles and dull, dirty shine, and it's "oh my god if we're not the center of the universe then what the fuck are we doing here?" puffed up sense of self denying self importance.
Yes. I just said that all in one sentence.
Yet, just like the lion in this proverb that I'm making up as I go along, maybe I too, am better off stuck in this cage, dying a slow meaningless death a little everyday, but at least we know there's a dinner every night and the kids will get a decent education (although one very different from the one we, the lion and I, would prefer them to have).
To say that I have a touch of "the grass is greener" is to say that I like speaking in hyperbole, which is to say; I do.
Which is why Vermont represents such a unique place in my fantastical world where everywhere else is better than New York.
On one hand, it represents everything I love about the anti-New-York-as-the-center-of-the-universe modus vivendi.
But on the other it's cold in the winter...
In one fell swoop it destroys everything that I hate about the sheer enormity of the completion in the bludgeoning of senses and connection to anything else other-than that New York City demands, even while we pretend otherwise.
Oh sure, we espouse farm-to-table, slow food, and "local" as much as almost any other city in America, but come on! Look around! The overpriced, capitalist-driven "green" market in Union Square isn't a farm, it's a chance for farmers to make money off of a bunch of idiots that think the very same farmers are either folk heroes, or yokels, or sometimes both at the same time. Even as we go back to our thousands-of-dollars-a-month slivers of apartments in our beehives and convince ourselves it all means something. And we helped some poor dumb country bumpkin at the same time! We're so great!
Oh how they laugh at us!
That's what's alluring for me about a Vermont. There's an authenticity about it that all the farm-to-table restaurants in the the city couldn't copy no matter how rustic and antique-y the interior is.
Danny Meyer can buy all the locally sourced meat and vegetables in the area, and it's great that he does, but it still all goes to feed the capitalist bourgeois machine that New York is.
Oh, sure. We'll boo and protest Walmart opening in the city, and we'll pay more at Whole Foods, but in the same breath we shove OUR brand of capitalism down the rest of the worlds throats. Our money markets, our venture capitalist, our movies, our morning shows, our commercials, our fashions, our trends, our marketing, our plays, our "real" housewives...
Mostly so the same few corporations that we boo and protest can make billions off of us.
Anyone who hates unadulterated Capitalism and unchecked Corporate greed, but lives in New York City, like I do, better feel like a slimy douchebag hypocrite, like I do.
Or at least be pissed off about it.
That's why it's at least nice to know that there are places like Vermont nearby. Take for example one of my favorite shops near the town we were staying in, Red Sky Trading.
I mean, doesn't it make you want to just puke all over your screen it's so adorable?
We were there (getting doughnuts obviously) and the proprietor was hanging out out front with a chicken in his arms talking to everyone... That's sickeningly adorable.
Right down the street is everyone's favorite shop,
Down the road a way is a great pizza shop that uses local everything for the pies, in addition to hosting a Tapas and Music night every thursday. A few towns over is Hardwick, one of the small towns at the forefront of the local ag business model (post forthcoming).
I swear everyday there was a farmers market at some small little town within driving distance, and the local supermarkets all sell goods from local farms.
It's people actually living the principals of slow food and community supported agriculture instead of just throwing money at the idea of it (which is our way in America).
And it's not a bunch of dumb hippies leftover from some bygone era, these people are young and educated, in many cases Ivy League educated that have all decided to leave the faux self-congratulating confines of the urban "locavore movement" and actually plant something in the earth. They're using their educations not only for better, smarter ways to farm, but better smarter ways to live in a community. To "be the change they want to see in the world" as it were.
We went to a farmers market in Hardwick and a lot of the people there say they have no desire to ship their stuff anywhere else, especially New York City where the "local" greenmarket system is prohibitively filled with the type of politics and bullshit unfairness that you'd expect from, well, New York City...
We met a woman who makes just about the best kimchi I've ever had:
And this woman, a Southern girl, just like you and me... (bonus points for song lyrics reference)
(bad picture, I know, but it was all I had...)
Born in raised in Northern Virginia, lived in NYC for awhile and now lives in Vermont selling maple soda and other things in farmers markets. And somehow she doesn't seem at all like she's missing out, and even has the nerve to seem... happy!!?? (At least one of us NOVA, NYC transplants made it! Hope survives!!)
So why don't I move to Vermont?
Well, I have just about zero interest in being a farmer for a living. I want to be a writer, and yes I could be a writer in Vermont (and would possibly love it) but it's basically a choice between Ideals and my family, and I'm not going to leave my family for all the local sustainable adorableness in the world. I have bigger "warmer winters" fish to fry when it comes to convincing my foot-firmly-down partner to rip apart her fantasy life in NYC for someone as pie in the sky eyed about just about everything else other than this as I am...
Besides, there are plenty of things that I love about New York (no there aren't, but I just have to live with it.)
That's why it's important for me to know that someone somewhere actually has the balls that I don't to actually do something about it. Whatever "it" is for whoever, thank god there are people with the courage to stop complaining for five fucking seconds and change it.
Maybe no one cares that the cheese that you're eating on the cheese plates at the wine bars you sit at on a thursday night after work was made by someone who was sick of the way things were and decided to do something about it, but I do.
Maybe some people give a passing thought to where the grass fed beef in their burger at whatever "gastropub" they're meeting their friends at came from, most often people probably don't. I'm sure if you asked them they'd be glad that they are supporting the farmers that raised it, but can you imagine the balls it takes to be the farmer that left their jobs in the city that they absolutely hated (just like most of us), and dumped their entire lives in to actually making a difference?
How many times have we all had similar thoughts and yet done nothing about it other than show up to work the next day like good little lemmings?
These people are the new punk rockers. Smart. Anti-government. Anti-establishment. Willing to open their eyes and fight to make a difference.
They're kicking down walls and begging us to help them.
Maybe I'll never be one of them.
Probably I'll never know what it's like to actually live for an ideal without so much compromise as to make it moot, but it makes me glad that there are people out there who do. I'll never blame anyone else for the decisions that they make, and I'll applaud good intentions, but for me I can't compromise being a slightly better cog in the machine when what we need to be doing is making new machines.
One good thing about being mired in a life you're not necessarily proud of is that it goes by quickly. Like so many other parents I can just easily hope that I can teach my children to be better than me, and slip quietly into new seasons of favorite TV shows, read books by people who weren't afraid to try, and there's always the built in societal fist shakers Sports and Politics to help the years march by.
But I'm not ready to give up yet.
Maybe it's too late for me to shake the world out of it's slumbering idiocy all by myself.
Maybe it's not.
And who knows? Maybe one day I'll figure out a way out of this city-cage. In the meantime I'll never stop believing that there's good out there just for the sake of doing what's right, and not for a newspaper write up or a way to sell something for slightly more money. I'll never stop believing in Change as an agent for good and not just a way for corporations to milk more money out of the system as they systematically march us down the path to our own ruination by continuing to centralize our food system even as the natural resources and the health of our land and soil dry up from what we're doing to it. Just so we can think we have cheap abundant food, all the while never connecting the dots between our health crises and our food system crises.
There needs to be a revolution in this country, and it might as well start somewhere. If the farmers in Vermont and all over this country are willing to stick their necks out for us, why shouldn't we do the same for them?
Even while the government and the Big Ag corporations are sending their goon squads after them, they are fighting for their rights, and our rights to choose. We need to do more than just throw money at it. We need to make it available to all the people, not just the ones who can afford it.
If we can use the sustainable methods for farming to bring us and the land better health and more options then the heavily subsidised over processed crap our own government is selling us, why shouldn't we rally behind them and help them? Ultimately it benefits us in as many real and intangible ways as it does the farmers, the farms, the animals, the whole fucking Earth.
It's easy to make a choice. And it's a good place to start. Choose to buy from the farms that are doing it the right way. Choose to spend a little more money on good things that you put into your body, rather than the cheapest thing possible.
I love that in this country people would rather die than not wear name brand designer shoes and clothes, always spending more for a logo, but then goes right for the cheapest, most unhealthy foods in a super market.
YOU PUT FOOD IN YOUR BODY!!!! You EAT it! How is that not more important than what fucking brand of shoes you wear?
Yet in this country we spend less than 10% of our annual income on food (that number isn't wholly accurate as it doesn't reflect the billions of dollars we give to the food industry in tax subsidies and tax credits. They also don't end up playing a lot of taxes off of the massive profits they make off us, but we should be pretty used to that by now in this "democratic" country.)
I'm certainly not suggesting that we all run for the hills and become farmers. But please, please at least take one moment to think about the courage it takes for those that do. I'm not against profit, but I'd rather it go to people that deserve it, people just trying get by rather than the fat cat assholes that have placed their top CEO's in positions of power in our government to choke out all competition and suffocate the people trying to do it the right way. Not for millions of dollars in profits mind you, but for enough money to just keep doing it.
And that's what Vermont represents to me. I realize there are farms and farmers much closer to home that are doing the same thing. I realize the same for small farmers all over the country and all over the world. And I support them all equally. Vermont represents the spirit of all these people, and all these farms. Rebels doing it for a cause. Punk rockers in spirit that just want things to be fair, and not decided by the people who stand to make the most profit off of them not being there.
We've all seen the corporate takeover of the government come to completion in our own lifetimes. I've voted for, and will vote for again the sham system of government we portray because as of now there's no viable third party option that could even make a dent in the corporate stranglehold of our "democratic" government. We've become too dumbed down, numbed, and passive as a people to do anything but vote for the puppet that we like most. While I'll fully admit things are slightly better under Obama in certain areas than they were under the unashamedly pro-corporate Bush, things aren't anywhere near good enough.
That's not because I believe Obama doesn't care or isn't trying, but because I feel the pro-Capitalist, corporate controlled media and governing body won't allow any changes that effect the one thing that they care about more than anything else in the whole world: their precious money.
So let's not give it to them.
Supporting local farming at a greenmarket is a vote with your wallet, and it's a good start, but then it just becomes a political, red tape filled bureaucratic nightmare that makes some people rich, while the farmers themselves barely break even. CSA's are a good idea, but can be prohibitively expensive, and if you join one like I did, you end up with all the leftover second rate stuff they can't sell at the greenmarkets.
If you can, go to local farmers markets near where the farms are. There are dozens of them every weekend all around, you just have to go. I'm not saying the green markets in NYC are bad (although they are decades behind the ones in Europe, San Francisco, Seattle, LA, and just about every other major metropolitan in the country,) but they aren't great. They're expensive, poorly managed, non-inclusive, and pretty lacking in variety of anything other than what their strict rules allow.
Outside of that I don't know what to tell you. But do something. If we can get enough people rattling the cages and demanding more form our government, we might actually be able to make a change.
Probably not until the last cent is squeezed out of the scorched, barren, chemically raped earth, or until the price of gas makes it unprofitable to ship food thousands of miles across the country,but sometimes it feels good to throw a rock at a mountain. And sometimes, although increasingly infrequently in this country, the good guys wins. And when and if we ever do, I want to be able to say I helped.
At the very least I want to be able to tell the idiots that just sat idly by letting it happen and blindly voting with their Fox News issued abridged-to-take-out-any-of-the-thought-provoking-parts bibles that they bought two for one at Walmart, that it was more their their faults than mine.
At least I tried.
And then I want to bury them in the mountains of processed shit that we call food in this country, and with thousands of news reports of the record profits the corporations are making off of us while they increase the price of every we thought was just a never ending buffet (won't be any fish on the buffet line soon), and then I want to dance on their graves...
This lion still wants to hunt.
I just need to figure out a way to get out of this cage.
(How's that? Long enough for you, or should I keep going?)
Next time I'll write a review of the Smurf movie or something.
In the meantime, if you've made it this far, let me know, I'll buy you a drink...
Loves and kisses...