Brooding On

The Multiple Personalities of a "Responsible" Shopper

This is lengthy, but so worth the read.  In this excerpt from 7, Jen Hatmaker discloses the multiple personalities that govern her shopping decisions.  I can so relate to this!

"Sometimes my organic personality, Sage Moonjava, emerges; and my top priority is to buy real food with wholesome ingredients.  Sage Moonjava doesn't blink at spending $11.99/lb. for bulk organic cashews, because they were harvested responsibly and not doused in partially hydrogenated oil.  Grocrery chains are the bane of Sage Moonjava's existence; the produce is covered in vegetable petroleum, beeswax, and lac resin; the aisles contain ten thousand combinations of high fructose corn syrup, refined grains, and chemicals; and the meats are genetically modified and pumped full of antibiotics.  I've abandoned a half-filled cart and walked out in utter defeat.

"But at other times, my 'buy local' personality, Ryvre, materializes.  Attempting to support the local economy and diminish the high ecological impact of importing goods, this seems like a winning approach.  Buying from corporate chains is paying The Man; I like the little guy, the Mom and Pop store, the imaginiative small-business owner.  I'd rather subsidize local vendors who retain cretaive ownership and feed back into our local economy.  Ryvre is into "Live here, give here," and shopping at Wal-Mart solidifies my place in the flock, contributing to a questionable supply chain and putting thousands of locally owned stores out of business every year.

"However, my third alter ego, Freedom Shakra,  . . . is trying to unhook from the consumer machine, and all this buying is not helping.  Freedom Shakra is just trying to spend less, way less.  This is a numbers game, and the winners are off-brands, generic products, knockoffs, and used goods.  F. Shakra understands that name brands and chic labels are the marketing brainchildren of The People Who Sell Us Stuff We Don't Need.  There is no good reason to buy designer water, over-priced spaghetti, or two sprigs of basil for $3.99 when it enjoys a prolific growth in my own backyard from a $.25 cut.   . . . Freedom Shakra is knocking down the budget by purchasing cheaper things, fewer things, smaller things.

"Here's the rub.

"Ryvre spots an adorable chocolate brown wrap sweater at local boutique The Red Door right here in our little town.  Talk about spending local!  It's five minutes away in historic Downtown Buda, and the owner lives up the street.  Adios, mall.  No Gap for Ryvre!  She's supporting the local gal.

"But Freedom Shakra emerges and says, 'Wait just a minute, Ryvre!' . . . because that wrap sweater is $45, and my bank account couldn't care less whether it went to The Red Door or straight into the pockets of Sam Walton.  All Freedom Shakra knows is she's down fifty large for a sweater with a two-year shelf life, and I don't care where it came from, that's lame.  Buying local is often synonymous with overspending

"FS is winning the day, so off she goes to the grocery store where she spies a carton of eggs for $.99.  Hooray! At nine cents per egg, that is purchasing victory for this Thrifty Mama.  Add the $2.99 package of bacon and $1.69 can of biscuits, and we're talking about breakfaat for five for $5.00.  Beat that, Dave Ramsey!

"But out pops Sage Moonjava, who gravely reads the biscuit ingredients.  All twenty-nine of them.  She recalls the dreadful farming practices that produced those hormone-injected, antibiotic-laden eggs.  SMJ scolds Freedom Shakra for skipping after this processed, additive-packed bacon like it was the Pied Piper. . .

"Sage Moonjava would buy the $3.50 eggs from grass-fed, free-roaming chickens, the $5.99 organic bacon from responsibly raised pigs; and the day she feeds canned processed biscuits to her family is the day she puts her kids up for adoption so a mom who genuinely cares about their health can raise them.

"Sprouts is an organic grocery store, but it's not local.

"Central Market is a local gourmet grocery store, but it's not economical.

"HEB is the most economical grocery store, but it's not organic.

"So Ryvre is horrified by Freedom Shakra's priority to buy cheap, and Freedom Shakra outright mocks Sage Moonjava and Ryvre for spending more on 'local' and 'organic' (she uses finger quotes when she says this).  The competing voices confuse me, and I'm not sure which personality should dominate.  This leaves me in a mess half the time, and I manage to feel guilty one way or another, no matter which purchasing priority wins the day.  I've either spent too much, bought cheap processed junk, or I've subsidized the sweatshop industry.  Evidently simplifying can be complicated.  GAH!"

Can you relate to Jen's quandary here?  I definitely can. Perhaps this is why I seem to ALWAYS be suffering from buyer's remorse -- at least one of my personalities is upset with every purchase!  Who do you tend to side with most often?  Ryvre?  Freedom Shakra?  Sage Moonjava?