I’ve taken time off from the Outlaw blog to do some thinking, observation, and listening. I’ve found sometimes life speaks to me through people’s actions and reactions…I have also found serendipity to be a powerful force and one that is at work in my life at this juncture. So it is through others’ responses to my writings and recent opportunities to grow in new directions that I have decided to end this chapter of my blog, This chapter being the one in which I have enjoyed many a rant and indulged myself in the guilty pleasure of poking fun at all of us silly consumers.

At first read, some may interpret this chapter as condescending, one sided, high-horsey foolishness. Some may be outraged, although it was all in good fun as far as I’m concerned. What I hoped and attempted to convey is something along these lines. I believe the American economy is going to fold in the very near future. I believe we have passed peak oil production and that we, average American consumers, refuse to accept this fact. We go about our daily lives in denial that our actions, especially what we chose to buy and the amount of energy we use, drives government policy AND the actions of important companies (like BP). I believe we are being brainwashed by the media to maintain unsustainable lifestyles because if we change…the consequences for our economy would be devastating.

Americans say we want change. But our actions tell a different story. We really want things to remain convenient. We want near instant gratification without having to work all that hard. We want to keep buying cheap food wrapped in plastic and to feel good about ourselves for recycling the wrapper. OR we want the world to know we went the extra mile to shop at a trendy overpriced market for our “certified organic” groceries. The thing is, patting ourselves on the back for recycling our plastic water bottles and driving our designer SUV’s to Whole Foods is, in my humble opinion, missing the mark.

My message is there are alternatives and options the average American may be unaware of. For example, lots of folks sell farm eggs in reused cartons for less that you might expect. You just have to put in the effort to find them because regulations make it hard for farmers to advertise what they have available.

For example, a farmer free ranges some chickens, gathers their eggs and sells them in donated eggs cartons for $3 a dozen…all of which is illegal. The person buying those eggs can see with their own two eyes the chickens running around having happy little lives. That means the eggs are filled with nutrition and really healthy stuff. You can easily see the difference in the color and texture of the yolks and shells. The original egg carton doesn’t have to be shipped to China where it is recycled into a new carton for the exact same purpose and then shipped back to the US where it is refilled with more eggs. Your farmer skips the whole ship it to China thing and just puts some fresh eggs in the preused carton.  And the eggs themselves are produced less than 30 miles away from your front door.

The end result of buying from a farmer has many advantages over purchasing “free ranged” eggs at the store: 1. Large egg producers have lobbied to use the words free ranged to describe something very different from what most consumers assume it means. When you buy from a farmer you can see for yourself how the chickens are raised. This not only has consequences for the lives of the animals but it also affects the quality of the product you are spending you hard earned dollars on. Real farm eggs are really healthy. 2. Buying from a farmer creates important community ties and furthers growth of the local economy. Your egg farmer will know where to get local produce, dairy and meats as well. I believe we will need to have inroads into farming communities in the future as it becomes more and more difficult to transport food from thousands of miles away. 3. Farmers are great at finding ways to reduce and reuse packaging materials. That’s great for the earth and cuts down on prices. There’s no need to pay $6 for a dozen eggs!!!

Finding a farmer is just one of the many radical changes I believe each one of us needs to at least consider as we barge ahead into an uncertain future. I pray for open-minded-ness and outside-of-the-box thinking/solutions to the physical and economic health of our country. I do not believe bailing out failed systems or replicating outdated expensive projects is productive. It is my opinion surviving and healing from unsustainable industrial models is going to come with innovations from local, small companies and individuals who understand the unique needs and demands of the communities in which they live and serve. We need to know one another better, communicate in person more often and take time out to shoot the shit.

End of Chapter 1.