For the love of an orangutan, put down that BK Broiler, and think twice before stopping in for a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee fix: both companies have been tied to the destruction of Indonesia’s paradise forests, where huge swaths of pristine, old-growth rainforest are being slashed down daily to make room for palm oil plantations. In addition to destroying the habitat of the aforementioned orangutans, gibbons and tigers, the clear cutting of this forest is generating huge amounts of pollution, displacing indigenous tribes and contributing to human rights abuses; we’re talking labor trafficking, slavery and, as has been seen time and again in the Amazon, the convenient “disappearances” of local folks who try to speak out against the devastation. I do not want my cake donut to come with a side of murder, and since the post-cutting practice of burning forest remnants has resulted in orangutans burning alive, I feel justified in saying that no potato ought to be fried in a product whose sourcing contributes to flaming, tortured monkeys. At least that’s my opinion.
As consumers, we’re faced with choices everyday, and our decisions are made based on a myriad of considerations. What’s the monetary cost? How much time will I have to invest to procure a product? Who and what am I supporting through my purchase? With fast food factories like Burger King, the goods are cheap and accessible, and often available in places that are a wasteland for comparably priced, healthier foods. A host of other factors weigh in as well, but I’d like to think that as a society, we’re starting to realize just how powerful the placement of our dollar is; in an age where corporations respond to profit, removing their ability to bask in said profit is an effective means of getting one’s voice heard. Whether you choose to actively boycott a company or simply spend your money where you feel it is more ethically appropriate, consumers have the ability to affect change – ten years ago, how many of us had heard of Fair Trade or truly understood the importance of supporting local economies? These ideas have become more and more a part of the mainstream, and I think that by upping the anti and forcing businesses to be both environmentally and socially responsible, we just might move towards a more equitable culture.
Burger King says “Have it your way!” Tell ‘em you’d prefer the occasional fast food indulgence without environmental destruction:
What are your opinions on ethical consumerism? Do you think that consumers can change the negative practices of businesses and corporations? What are some ways that you try to make your spent dollars reflect your ideals?
I recognize that I’ve now posted two eco-rants and one extremely unflattering picture in the period of a single week. Sorry, folks. I consider the planet to be home, and I’m just not down with trashing my house. On top of that, the lack of kindness (and common sense) with which we treat this place is sadly reflected in how we often treat each other. It’s hard to be compassionate in just one sector of your life; the stuff’s contagious. Here’s to a little more tenderness in the universe, though we may have to enforce it within a iron fist. Kidding. Kind of.
It’s possible that my heightened sense of righteous indignation is the direct result of a severe lack of sleep. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m pretty hardcore insomniac. Two, three hours a night is my average, with periods of no sleep whatsoever that can last upwards of three or four days. These slightly manic periods are a carnival of fun, not only for myself, but for anyone else in a five mile radius – vastly different moods erupt from my mind in rapid-fire succession, and a good friend once remarked that seeing me in no-sleep mode was like watching a circus parade. I’ve been this way since I was about fourteen – I blame puberty - and while I used to revel in the extra reading and study hours I gained, staying far away from Dreamland is not conducive to getting older. I’ve tried a whole forest’s worth of herbs and teas, and the most surefire treatment to date is skullcap tincture. Seriously – if you have sleeping problems, get thee to the local co-op or supplement store, and get thyself a bottle of skullcap tincture. Squeeze the contents of the dropper under your tongue, and you’ll be lulled into a quiet-minded state of sleep. I was given a small supply of skullcap goodness in Ithaca by the herbalist we couch-surfed with, and sadly, I’m already out. Must get more, otherwise y’all might be inundated with more soapbox spiels later on this week
I’ve got another recipe to share, which resulted from a hankering for something from the southlands. I’m starting to get a little homesick for Asheville (and for my own room), so when I found stone-ground white grits at the store a few days back, I figured they might help hold me over until I’m back in grits-and-biscuit land. While you could quite accurately describe this meal as consisting of corn cakes, I’m going to channel the powers of cultural fusion and call it bruschetta, southern-style.
Southern Summer Bruschetta
For the base:
3 cups water
1 cup stone-ground grits
1 tsp salt
1/4 shredded cheese o’ choice
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons cornmeal + 1-2 tablespoon breadcrumbs, on a plate
For the topping:
5 small to medium tomatoes, chopped roughly, and patted down to remove extra water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1 peach, cut into small cubes
1 small Cubanelle pepper, diced (if you like mild) or 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced (should you embrace a touch of heat)
1/2 cup corn, sliced right off the cob
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
A touch of cumin, and pepper to taste
For the base:
Preheat the oven to 350. Bring water to a boil, then add salt and grits. Lower the heat, and cook until thick, stirring all the while – should be about ten minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the egg and grated cheese – stir up until all is well combined. Let cool.
Once the grits have cooled off, take a tablespoon or two into your hand, form into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Press the disk into some of the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture, then place in a slightly greased baking dish. Repeat until all the grit mixture is used up.
For the topping:
Combine all ingredients, splash in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, and mix well.
To assemble, simply spoon the tomato mixture onto the grit disks. Bake on 350 for 10 minutes, then transfer ‘em onto a skillet for bottom-crisping purposes; 6-8 minutes with a little olive oil over a medium flame should do the trick.
Remember the peach, ground cherry and thyme sorbet from earlier this week? I served each piece of bruschetta with a little dollop of sweet and savory coldness.
It is hard to believe that I did not discover the joy of grits until I was almost 25. Rib-hugging, super-thrifty staple, I salute you!
I’m headed to Providence, Rhode Island for more work tomorrow, then back to Massachusetts for a brief stay with Clover’s family in Cape Cod. I’m looking forward to dunes.
A lovely night to all.