On the Responsibility of the Consumer

There is no arguing that we live in a culture whose manifesto is bigger, more, and better. We want the latest technology, the ease of modern comforts, and the ability to have those things that have simply always been there – foods at the grocery store, cheap t-shirts at the local big box store, and the ability to drive our cars to get there.

But not many of us take the time to consider where those things came from. Where does the oil that powers your vehicle come from and at what price? Where does the coffee you drink every morning come from and was the farmer fairly compensated for his work?

Most of us are mindless consumers, and some of that is not entirely our fault. There is a lot of brainwashing that goes into marketing. If a company can make a product that we like, convince us that we need it on a regular basis, and then make it accessible then they have hooked us. And they know that once we’re hooked we don’t really want to ask questions.

And we certainly don’t want to deal with the implications of the answers.

There are foods that grace your table on a daily basis that have a horrific history behind them. Sugar and brutal slavery. Chocolate and child slavery. Coffee and the abuse of its growers.

These items come from far away places, magically end up in our cart, and are consumed by us regularly. So is cotton which is one of the most heavily chemically-sprayed crops on the planet and whose chemical run off is ruining waterways.

And then there are the farming practices. If you’ve never learned of the destruction that a confinement feed lot can cause then you might want to look into it. You’ll never look at meal with just an eye on the price again.

But how did we get here?

There was once a very few number of things you could purchase. And even then you might be bartering your own goods for them in exchange. And these goods were easily traceable not because they were regulated by the government but because you knew someone who knew the guy who grew the cotton. Or the demand for a food wasn’t so out of control that large corporations took over and lost all sense of responsible stewardship.

We used to be more directly involved in the production of our own needs. Industrialism put a whole lot of middle men into the picture and they are now the ones with their pretty advertisements holding one hand out to take your money and handing you a blindfold with the words “Ignorance is Bliss” embroidered on the front.

But they

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don’t control you. You have the same ability as everyone else to get informed, discern right from wrong, and then stop buying their junk. A simple google search of the many mystery staples in your home will let you in on the history and origin of those products.

Sadly, though, most people would just as gladly keep the blindfold on.