Submitted July 11, 2007
I was an agnostic or atheist during the '80s and '90s but I'm a United Church of Christ now.
Sustainability and fair trade are the most important things to me. I cringe when I hear about people who only want pure things (organic food) to go into their bodies. We don't see the effects here in the USA because our waste stream often ends in majority world countries. I have been shopping at food co-ops since I managed one in the 1970s. I have been trying to shop locally for decades.
My ex-husband was ahead of his time about 17 years ago when he moved in with me and we started buying local and from sustainable agricultural businesses. He said over a decade ago that with our trade policies and purchases we've polluted majority world countries in order not to pollute the USA. I learned decades ago that food shipped in from Mexico was maybe a little bad for me with all the insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides on it, but it was far worse for the Mexican farmworker who sprayed the chemicals onto the fields in ignorance of the harmful effects on themselves while not being supplied with even minimal protective equipment.
My sister is completely different. She is a fundamentalist Christian and shops all the time and buys the cheapest things she can. She has so much stuff! She only cares about the people in her little church. She certainly doesn't care about farmworkers in Mexico or sustainable agriculture anywhere in the world or fair trade for cocoa or coffee or anything, because caring about other people costs too much money to her. I am disabled and don't have a good income, but I feel strongly about sharing what I've got. I volunteer a lot, for example. I guess that's a spiritual thing. I don't say a prayer before I eat. I don't thank God for the food. Hmm, I guess you'd say I'm not very spiritual. I have thought I'm a secular humanist, but I feel very strongly about not making other people suffer.
In the 1990s, I became disabled and divorced and had to start using a food shelf. I didn't have the option of being a vegetarian at that point, and there were no fresh fruits or veggies. I decided that I wanted to have more choices for my son and myself, so I changed my spending habits. Even at the same income I was able to shop at my local co-op. My income is even lower now but I never eat at restaurants. I've eaten at restaurants just a few times in the last eight years. That saves a lot of money and means I get to make my choices.