Posts filed under ‘local’

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing

Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day (aka Black Friday Consumerism Disaster) in US and Canada, whick for me and international ClosetReaders, is on Saturday the 24th.

So here is my appeal to you. Buy Nothing! Think about the impact your consumption has on the worlds resources. Think before you buy useless shit no one wants anyway.

But most importantly, go out and have fun. Do stuff that doesn’t involve spending money to feed the capitalist establishment. You’ll be much happier, really.

And now, to the ‘pull the ember to my sardine’ part of this post, here is what what’s going down here in Wageningen, NL. I have joined the local hippy crowd in organizing Buy Nothing Day activities. We are setting up a living room in the main market square, with live music, free tea (maybe even coffee if we’re lucky), free hugs, free shop, traditional games, board games, newspapers, massages (maybe), professional portraits, and workshops.

The goal is to try to lure passersby away from consumerism with happy activities that don’t involve consuming, the key word in this being ‘happy’, seeing that HappyJMA Wageningen is organizing.

You can also revisit this post, where I shared with you guys a video about Wageningen Buy Nothing Day in 2006.

So today, my message to you is: Be happy. And buy nothing!

Ps: I also wrote a post about BND for Celsias. Check it out for the hilarious adbusters tv spots.

November 22, 2007 at 5:56 pm 2 comments

Price perception and the organic (and local).

I have this theory for a while now and I am now going to share it with you guys. and you can tell me if it makes sense or not. It all started with an observation of my patterns of ‘going out on the town’ in a relatively unfamiliar city.

Say, we go to Amsterdam for a weekend. We are quite broke as always, but despite the fact, we go out for dinner and look for a place for an after dinner drink, that hopefully will not rip us off. We pass a bar, and it looks nice, if only a little bit on the fancy side. And, inevitability, the conversation goes something like this:

“Hey, this place looks nice, wanna go inside?”

“Hmm, I don’t know, it looks kinda expensive, I don’t think we can afford it”

And then what happens? We go somewhere else, that looks more like the kinda place we can afford (i. e. hole in the wall). And we end up paying 3 euros for a beer in a crappy looking hole in the wall.

And after this happened one or two times, I developed a new philosophy. This one more satisfactory, and it goes something like this:

“We are in Amsterdam. Gonna get ripped off no matter what we do. So we might as well enjoy it and go to the nice looking place we wanted to go in the first place. I’m sure it won’t rip you off any worse that the others”.

So then I started noticing this little theory applied to other things as well. Like, here in Wageningen, we had this really crappy looking supermarket, the kinda place you don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes in, just get the milk and get out before this place steals your soul. And the strange thing is, this place got a reputation of being cheap. But the fact is, when you actually compared the prices of the same products, it was even more expensive than the nice looking supermarket!

We as consumers are subject to a hell of a lot of manipulation. Why do you think all the prices are always $9.95 and not $10? Never $10. I know, rationally, that $9.95 is really 10$. But for some reason, it just seems a whole lot better than $10, huh? Why you go to the supermarket and buy something for $4.95 and next week it is on SALE, for ONLY $5.45!!! And yet, we still buy (into) this crap!

So, I wonder, even though there is no doubt that most local and organic things are, in fact, more expensive than their conventional counterparts (like the 8E/kg bell pepper), how much of the price difference is real, and how much is just in out heads?

I have, just recently, seen the lettuce heads at the organic market stand for 1E a piece, picked that same morning in Wageningen. In the supermarket, they have them imported from Spain, who knows when and how, for E1,5o! And the 8E/kg bell pepper seems expensive, right? That’s about E1,5 a piece. What if I tell you that about the same time I saw single overpackaged bell peppers trucked in from the Kingdom of Far Far Away at the supermarket at guess how much? That’s right, E1.50. And let’s not forget that said peppers rank at #3 of most evil vegetables in pesticide residue.

I’m not saying this is always the case. It’s true, about 70% of the times (my guesstimate), local and organic is more expensive. But it is also fresher, tastier and pesticide free! Isn’t that worth paying for?

Just because you buy something at ‘Cheap’o’market’ doesn’t mean that it is actually cheaper! I am just making a case for the fact that supermarkets are not actually the cheapest places to buy food, despite what they want you to think.

I’m just saying. Go to the farmer’s market. I bet you will find plenty of local (and sometimes organic as well, with or without certification), cheaper than at Cheap’o’market. Don’t just assume that it’s more expensive and therefore you can’t afford it. Do some research first, and actually compare it. Even better, look into the possibility of buying directly from farms in your area.

On a personal note, I am now going to look into the possibility of buying cherries and strawberries and other fruit from farms just on the edge of town. Yesterday I noticed them from the bus. They had a little barrack by the side of the road with a painted sign saying ‘Cherries for sale’. I bet ya that’s the cheapest I’ll find here in town. And if they are not organic, who cares? They are local, which is cool too.

The point is, you are going to get ripped off no matter what you do. So might as well enjoy it, and get what you really want, and not go for the inferior alternative just because your perception is tricking you into thinking it’s cheaper ūüėÄ

Yummy photo by CAZASCO on Flickr.

June 16, 2007 at 2:58 pm 13 comments

Wageningen’s Buy Nothing Day 2006

I found this video today, more or less accidentally and I thought I would share it with you. Buy Nothing Day was in November, apparently on a Saturday, and I can’t believe that I somehow missed it! It just totally passed me by, I didn’t even know about it. Damn… It looked really cool… apart from the typical November weather.

It’s here for a few reasons. You can see the small town where I live, you can see the market I always talk about, and you can see the back of Emmaus, the charity shop (where you see the ‘pimp my bike’).

The thing they are shooting the video from is a tricycle, a special cargo bike. I used it twice for moving my shit across town (including one bulky sofa). Apparently it was put together by 2 local organizations, one of which I knew because they give out free food at the market about once a month. That’s the ‘Food Not Bombs’ people, it’s them¬†pouring soup¬†in the video. (also in Wikipedia)

The first two stands you can see are the organic vegetables (the guy who waves at them) and right next to it is the organic dairy guy. It’s too bad they didn’t write ‘free hugs’ in dutch, “gratis knuffels”. Knuffels (the k is not silent) always cracks me up… it’s just such a funny word ūüėÄ

Notice in the end, when they are putting the tricycle back, there is a yellow sign in the road and a bunch of bicycles inside. That’s the shared patio of Emmaus and a ‘Bike Oasis’, which is a bike repair shop where I always take my bike when I have a flat. The guy is really nice.

Anyway, I just thought it would be interesting for you guys to see where I live and actually see the stuff I’m always talking about. I hope you enjoyed it.

May 11, 2007 at 3:34 pm 5 comments

Organic Grocery Bag


Here is a picture of my groceries from my latest shopping trip. This is what you can buy for E 16,50 at the organic shop in Wageningen.

This is what you see in the picture:

  • 1L of full-fat, very yummy yogurt.¬†The glass bottle is reusable and has a 25ct deposit to make sure it makes it¬†back to the store.
  • 500g of sunflower seeds. I’m a sucker for roasted sunflower seeds. Also good in salads. I was shocked to find that the organic bag’o’seeds is several times cheaper than the regular, non-organic seeds I used to buy at the market. Goes to prove organic is not always more expensive.
  • 250g of sesame seeds. For some reason I thought that I could make hummus with sesame seeds… Apparently what I needed was ‘tahine’. Whatever… I think those must be good in sandwiches, salads and sauces.
  • 250g of firm unflavored tofu. We’ll see what comes out of that…
  • 1 bell pepper, paid¬†it’s weight in gold for it.
  • 1 plain dutch cheese. Pretty tasty.
  • 1¬†certified¬†sustainable smoked mackerel. Tasty by itself, but better in a fish dip/salad.
  • a bunch of fresh shiitake mushrooms. Those were damn good with risotto… *droool*
  • My orange Slow Foods shopping tote. Very handy and cute as well. I also have a couple of other, not so cute bags.

Lately, I have been shopping almost exclusively at this shop.¬†¬†I¬†still have to start¬†buying bread there as well.¬†¬†Sometimes I cheat by going to the supermarket across the street, and buy bread and other emergency items. I am buying meat exclusively from the Nature Slagerij (the organic butcher). For eggs, I only buy them at the organic stalls at the market, because it’s the only place I can reuse my egg carton. Sometimes I also buy veggies at the market. There is one stand that sells stuff from their own farm just across the river. They invited me for the inauguration of their farm-shop next weekend but I’m not sure if it’s close enough to bike there… maybe it’s worth the ride. We’ll see.

I’m trying to avoid shopping at chain supermarkets, I don’t want my Euros fattening up their corporate @$$ess, but sometimes cheapness and convenience still¬†gets the better of me. But I’m going there less and less, and when I do, I’m also buying a lot less stuff. I think I can ‘just say NO’ pretty soon, though.

April 23, 2007 at 11:58 am 1 comment

Eating out

utrechtIt is funny how every time¬†we make any¬†changes to¬†our lives, we always antecipate¬†all the worstcase scenarions,¬†set-backs and problems. Most of the time, we envision changes to be harder than they actually turn out to be.¬† But the fact is, sometimes, it doesn’t take a super-human effort to make a change, and after you have made up your mind, and are set on a certain course, things just kinda come together naturally.

This is what I sort of realized this weekend. We decided to spend our Saturday in Utrecht, a real city, for a change. And without putting much thought or effort into it, ended up going to a nice organic restaurant that caught my eye in the New York Times. They change their menu every month and deliberately include seasonal products in it, which I presume must be local, for the most part. And of course, all their ingredients are organic.

So despite the fact that we failed miserably in what was our objective for the day – shopping – we had a great time. And in the end it was quite a ‘sustainable’ day out, which came as a surprise even to me. Especially when our consumerist impulses were done away with.

Photo courtesy of my love.

April 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

The Full Monty

After a couple of days of whining, I can finally write about something that is really really great. Today I made it, at last, to the only organic shop here in Wageningen. That place is AWESOME! I can’t believe it’s been so long since last time I went there… I lost myself in there like I was in Disneyland… They had EVERYTHING! And I mean, everything you could possible want or need to be a full-time hippie tree-hugger, even things you didn’t even imagine you could find here.

I can’t even begin to describe it. They have an huge variety of all kinds of green clening stuff, natural beauty products, beeswax candles, organic pet food, natural kitty litter, all kinds of organic grains, organic flower, organic bread and Co. organic dairy, organic meat, meat replacements, organic oils, organic wine, organic beer, organic coffee/tea, recycled paper products (yes, including toilet paper in an 8 pack), organic compost, organic pot soil, organic seeds, all kinds of veggies and so on and on and on.

Seriously, everything you could ever wish for in order to be green is there. What I liked especially about the fruit and veggies is that the price tags show right off the bet where the stuff comes from, and the selection of local dutch products is quite big. So if I wanted to be strict about localness, I could. But I don’t want to be so restrictive just yet.

And even more surprising for me is that prices there aren’t even so steep. It’s actually quite comparable to the supermarket in some cases, and especially, if you consider all the embarrassment that store saves you its a real bargain. Don’t have to ask “where does this come from”, don’t get weird looks when I hand them reused bags to put my shrooms in.

Today I just bought some meat-replacement soya stuff, some bulgur wheat and some organic apples. And that all came out pretty cheap consedering I saved 2 euros on sea salt. In the supermarket, half kilo of over-packaged sea salt is 1,5E and there I paid 0,95E for a kilo, and my favourite part is that it saves on packaging and is all natural from the Atlantic.

I think I’m going to do all mt shopping there from now on. I have solved my TP dilemma, my trash bag dilemma (they have corn trash bags that are the right size) and my organic/local/cheap dilemma. Hoorray!

No photo this time… but I’ll post one soon after next time I go there.

April 12, 2007 at 12:01 am 3 comments

Market Research

Wageningen Market

As you can probably guess from this wannabe clever title, today is market day in Wageningen (Vahhhhheningen, like you are trying to expel some mucus). So, in our soon to be squandered innocence, we headed off, carrying our little tote bags, a couple of plastic bags to reuse and a carton of eggs to refill at the organic dairy stand.

Full of good intentions, we successfully purchased a broccoli,a zucchini and a few mushrooms at the organic produce stand, making use of the totes and one of the plastic bags I brought along.¬†We knew we needed to be extra watchful, as it was only on the previous day that we weren’t quick enough to prevent the organic butcher from handing us our goodies in one of those dreaded plastic bags. We assumed, by the absence of packaging and¬†what they were selling that their stuff¬†was reasonably local.¬†Or at least I like to think so, and postpone my disillusion for some other time…

Unfortunately, however, we are still not at a point where we can afford to refill our stock entirely from the organic stand… So we went on, intending on getting some fruit and what not at a regular stand. It was then that we realized exactly how hopeless our situation is… Inspecting the items on display, I was still hoping to find something that could even remotely qualify as “local”. Bananas (Costa Rica) were obviously not an option, as well as the sugar snaps we were informed came from South Africa. Looking at the bleakness of this picture, it suddenly seemed that Spain was actually not such a bad perspective after all… In the end, we walked away with some spanish oranges, some spanish strawberries on the verge of spoiling and some plums, which seemed pretty good until I found out they were also from South Africa…

So there…. to quote Butters, “Oh Hamburguers!”. We have now, as I see it,¬†4 possible options. 1) We go bankrupt buying organic 2) We starve going local and avoiding packaging 3) we expand our standard¬†of what’s local to simply “Europe”, so we can allow ourselves to get stuff that is¬†trucked over from Spain and 4) we stop asking where stuff comes from and revert to our previous “ignorance is bliss” situation. None of these sounds especially appealing, but alas, we must feed.

And so it is, that I have reached the conclusion that after we can’t afford the organic stand anymore, we will limit ourselves to our continent and consider that to be as local as it gets…

Even so, I consider this day to be quite positive, considering that I managed to get home without adding more plastic bags to my collection and reuse one egg carton. But still, I did not escape plastic altogether, as the strawberries were packed in a plastic box.

 Photo Courtesy of .:Kemal:. on Flickr

April 7, 2007 at 11:55 pm 3 comments


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