Humans and Commodity

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

As an advocate for the environment, I often juxtapose my habits with the claims of concern that I make. My small parcel of land is a daily focus, to propagate and conserve native plants, and protect wildlife. Yet, I might convince myself to go to a "natural food store," and that I am helping my cause, but am I? Here are some thoughts...

The concept of the grocery store and supermarket

It wasn't until the mid or late 1800s, and certainly the 1900s, did the idea of a grocery store emerge and bring about a very convenient, highly economized system, of feeding and supplying humans with what they needed. In the 20th century we have all certainly patronized the supermarket as the usual means of taking care of our nourishments, household supplies, even superfluous gifts to ourselves. In the United States, the "Big Box Store" was a term used to describe warehouse-sized stores that supplied not only food, but electronics, clothing, toiletries, pharmaceuticals, furniture and more. Some even include cafes and banks, called hypermarkets. These gargantuan stores can almost guarantee the easiest most inexpensive means of supplying oneself. Humans are hooked.

How does nature fit in with the Superstore?

I'm asking you! What does a corporation need to keep large scale retail open for supply and demand? More importantly, how does it fit with the natural world? My personal opinion: it does not. Albeit, many companies are using terms such as "green" or "sustainable," conspicuous consumption continues to be on the rise. This includes many environmental hazards from packaging, shipping, destruction of land, and manipulating natural phenomena. Not to mention, the retail business is not usually a place of friendly employment; fast paced and low wages are the customary complaints.

Know history. Personally, I believe that the modern child only imagines how people acquired their sustenance in the not so ancient times, before the advent of the grocery store. Perhaps, like the old movies, there were outdoor marketplaces or you had your own plot of land to cultivate food. Did people trade, use a money system, or share? Believe it or not, there are many peoples today that continue to live without the heavy dependence on corporations and retail stores. Many practice "self sustaining" traditions that came long before the superstore. Others rely on the talent of their own communities, neighborhoods and townships.

A friendly challenge: Learn and try one sustainable habit. It makes no difference if you live in downtown Los Angeles, an apartment complex, or at the end of a dirt road. Start small. Your kitchen window, your recycling bin, your pantry are great places to begin your laboratory. Want to read an amazing blog exploding with ideas? Visit Self Sufficient Me. Let me know how it goes!

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