"It's Expensive"

Posted by Elise Muller on

I’ve grown weary of the expression “it’s expensive” when the comment targets organic food; supporting regional based economy; alternative energy; organic skin care, or any artisanal, hand-made product produced with care and integrity (that doesn’t destroy fragile eco-systems).   I must be honest; in my experience with people who say “it’s expensive,” they’re unable to trace their purchasing power; usually shop at Wal-Mart, CVS, McDonalds (or other companies with similar ethics) and they “turn a blind eye” on what their purchases are, in fact, supporting. To be clear, “it’s expensive” comes into play whenever the product isn’t mass produced by an industrialized corporation whose guiding principles are greed and power, and whose products, laden with chemicals, destroy our natural resources, local economies and annihilate Indigenous cultures and their Ancestral lands. In my opinion, “inexpensive” products support “special interest groups”.  I would like to address what is actually expensive, and inexpensive. As I am in the “organic” business, I will first address our ethics: My work, and the work of people / any company that I do business with, supports  local economies … enriches global health … assists the well-being of all people.  Our products are free of chemicals and synthetic ingredients; our ingredients are procured only through “Fair Trade” (in many cases supporting women’s industry) allowing Indigenous women the dignity of setting their own price.   The precious Botanicals we work with have been carefully tended; harvested at the exact time their medicinal quality is at its peak / their vital life force intact.  We do not support “corporate farming” or unethical practices that exploit our natural resources or anyone’s home land.  To clarify the “full meaning of Fair Trade”, a woman in Africa who cultivates, harvests and hand-crafts a precious botanical substance normally earns $200.00 per year. (Who among us would like to live on $200.00 per year)?  But many of us support these practices because “we’re saving money” and we don’t consider what our purchases support or exploit. “Fair Trade” ensures a person the dignity to set their price based on their understanding of what their crop means to them, and to their people. (Yes, in distant lands, crops are considered sacred).   I’m honored to formulate with “sacred crops” that are ethically crafted and support natural resources, cultures and traditions.  It would be impossible for me to formulate Mountain Spirit Botanicals without the thoughtfulness of Organic farmers; women in Africa; companies that operate on “zero waste”.  We believe that we’re offering integrity, and contributing to making the world a better place - for everyone. For those who consider “organic expensive”, please consider which part of the following “inexpensive” product that you "consider sacred …where is the life force … what does it support and what does it destroy”? Dimethicone, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Decapeptide-7, Dipropylene Glycol” … etc. (And what exactly is it)? Another example of “expensive” is “Organic food”. Let’s take “hamburgers” for this example.  McDonald’s sells a 1/ounce hamburger for $1.08; Wal-Mart sells “meat” for a price that I won’t address because I don’t consider it meat.  Wal-Mart customers now have no choice but to buy a “cheap product” because Wal-Mart has “outsourced” their meat - so their butchers couldn’t unionize.  By “outsourcing,” Wal-Mart doesn’t have a clue of what's under the cellophane wrap - nor do they care.  The “meat” purchased at Wal-Mart is a disease-ridden factory farmed animal laced with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and bacteria.” Charming, eh?  But rest assured, it’s inexpensive and you’re saving money.  Well, that’s what they’d like you to believe. Back to McDonalds: To feed and graze their livestock  McDonalds has clear cut a significant portion of our Rainforest - releasing 3270 million tons of greenhouse gases which has contributed  to global warming and the displacement of Indigenous people; McDonald’s food doesn’t “change shape” 6/months after date of purchase; much of the soybean production (used to feed Chickens that become “McNuggets”) in the Amazon is illegal because producers ignore environmental regulations; ranchers in the region have been implicated in debt-bondage - 4,133 slaves were freed (in 2005) after teams raided 183 farms. (Greenpeace has additional facts and information).  Yes, it’s “inexpensive”…. except for the slaves and global warming. On the other hand (of course the hand that’s “expensive”) grass fed and organically raised beef and poultry (free of hormones, antibiotics or additives) contribute to local economy (keeping farmland, “farmland” / not a condo); keep us free of pesticides and pollution (clean water / clean air); less fat; more protein; and if you choose to eat meat, it actually tastes good and sells for .32/cents per ounce. Oh. And it doesn’t clear cut our Rainforest; displace Indigenous people; destroy their land or cause Cancer in their children.

It’s difficult to comprehend how ethics & integrity are “expensive" - while enslavement, deforestation and global warming are "inexpensive".

Last example is “made in the USA” (any product not imported from China): Yes, “made in China” is cheaper, in all ways.  (One has to only view Michael Moore’s movie to see how people in China are treated who produce “inexpensive goods” marketed to America).  We’re the laughing stock of the world; they know our values are in the toilet. We want cheap - they give us cheap.  In buying imported, inferior products, we’re destroying the economy of our country.  If you purchase these items, have you considered transportation - the oil burned in transit – how this transport destroys air quality – affects the price of oil - our dependence on “foreign trade”?  And how long do these “inexpensive” items last?  My guess is not very long; I see them in our dumps and landfills.  (Except for those who recycle scrap metal).  Guess who buys most of America’s scrap metal?  China.  They sell us crap; it falls apart; they buy it back; sell us more crap (most likely through Wal-Mart, their main distributor).  China doesn’t do ethical or organic; America does. China is booming; America is on “the balls of its ass”. (Don’t blame President Obama or the other folk that you want to blame … blame yourself … your “purchasing power” is responsible). Ethically produced crops and their by-products enrich our communities, our resources, and our lives. The more that we support ethical practices, the sooner unethical corporations will cease to have the power to buy our politicians and our natural resources.  In buying “inexpensive” we’ve bought their hype, grown complacent, and given unethical corporations their power of destruction.  (The Chemical Industry, Wal-Mart and McDonalds are very, very happy that folks are shopping “inexpensively”). Forgive me if I sound angry, but in truth, I am. I observe unethical corporations producing “garbage” that creates harm every step of the way. I work ethically, ensuring everyone and everything benefits – it takes me hours to craft a product of integrity that benefits you, our natural world, and a woman in Africa hoping to send her child to school (to end her family’s cycle of poverty and enslavement).  But alas - “ethical and organic” are expensive.   Our (self serving) choice is environmental destruction and Indigenous annihilation all so we can “save money”.  Shame on us … In closing, I often vend at Farmer’s Markets.  While displaying my formulas, what particularly touches me is when I see the Bees and Butterflies fly around my table and land on my bottles trying to “suck the nectar” from the closure.  (They sense the “life force” of the ingredients).  In the moments that I hear “it’s expensive” and I may feel defeated, I only have to turn to the Bees and Butterflies to know that what I am producing, what I support, is righteous.  Wildlife is my validation.  One cannot fool a Bee, this much I know to be true. As a suggestion, place an “inexpensive” product outdoors to observe if a Bee flies around that product "trying to suck nectar from its closure”.  I doubt it.  A Bee knows that if it did, it would be dead. Perhaps if we pay attention to our natural resources and to our wild-life, we just may learn something of value. Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan mountain-spirit-botanicals.com

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