what is the story behind what you buy?

As you are reading this post, perhaps you are at home on your desktop, on the train on your iPad, or maybe even at work (shhh, we won’t tell) on your smart phone. Being the multi-tasking society that we have become, stop to think about what else you are interacting with.  Are you snacking while reading?  Did you just slather your favorite concoction on the sunburn you got on vacation?  Are you wearing your favorite loungy summer cardigan or wrapped in your go-to pashmina?  Have you ever stopped to think where these items are made?  Who makes them?  What is their story?

A couple of weeks ago I featured a fabulous shop called Fait ici out of Montreal.  They are a wonderful corner shop that carries a range of items and foods all produced locally.  In the last few years I have become highly aware of the origins of the foods I consume.  So taking a moment to reflect on the food topic was not a big leap.  However then I started thinking, what about everything else?  What is really in my beauty products?  What is really in the fibers and finishing agents of my clothing, children’s items, home furnishings?  What is the human factor in the production of all of these things?

In my view, this is why the support of local brick and mortars is so very important.  I think of the owners of these shops as the experts on all of these questions.  In a way they act as our “agents” and source the items that we value.  These owners (courageous people in today’s world) are in turn supporting the fair-trade coffee growers, the organic farmers, and the artisans who support local communities by employing local craftswomen.

Now, believe me.  I am not trying to give the impression that I wear a halo.  You will find me from time to time strolling (okay, really running as fast I can) down the aisles of a big box store.  However, I can say for sure you won’t find me purchasing my produce just anywhere.  My point is if I can put so much care into my food choices, I can certainly extend the gesture to the other items in my life as well.  It really just takes a moment to be aware of the fact that there is a choice.  Often alternative choice is just as convenient.

I have passed a little apothecary many times.  Today with a natural remedies book in hand, I will venture in.  I am choosing to know where my lotions and potions really come from.  I am quite excited about it really.  It like a whole new adventure.  Who knows?  This life surface designer.  Next life, medicine woman?  :)

So I pose this question to you this Wednesday regarding the origins, content and human factor of your food and items…

Do you know?  Is it important to you to know?

9 thoughts on “what is the story behind what you buy?

  1. Yes it is important. I love when I can meet the maker/designer/crafter first hand. I just recently bought a necklace based on historical viking jewelry. We happened to run into the designer at a roadside park in Norway where the weekend before there had been a Viking Festival. The designer was still there and we got to talking and as I looked at his jewelry I just had to have it. It is one of my favorite pieces.

    Today I came across this man ( http://thebottletreeman.com/mambo/ ) who makes bottle trees and watched his video about the inspiration for him getting into this business. Now I so want him to deliver me a tree for my house.

  2. It becomes more important every day! As a small-time crafter/businessperson, it matters to *me* if people are thinking about the stories behind what they purchase, so I know that I must live what I preach. Besides, there’s nothing better than learning about the artisan behind the object – I’ve gathered so many interesting friends this way!

    I often fondly remember the event where I purchased a necklace or scarf, smiling when I remember the exchange with the person whose hands made the thing I was taking home to love. It makes each item so much more valuable to me!

    1. Xiane, Artists are so great at supporting other artists! It is such a wonderful community to be a part of. It is so great to share these kinds of experiences with my friends who are not artists, and don’t think about these topics daily. I love to see the expression and curiosity on their faces when I where a piece of jewelry that a friend designed. They typically always want to know more, and of course I am happy to tell them all about it! :)

  3. This is really interesting, I think of this topic often and I really need to make more of a commitment to being a conscientious buyer. I recently made the plunge with food, committing to buying organically through Spuds organic food delivery (https://www.spud.com) and I can hardly wait for the first delivery! I have a feeling that though process will continue spanning out to my other (non-food) purchases…

    1. Courtney, Spuds looks amazing!! If I were still in Seattle I would jump right on this! Now I am on a hunt for something similar in my area… I will be sure to share some new concoctions after my apothecary mixing experiment! :)

  4. Thanks especially for the mention of brick and mortars. I know it is often said, but it cannot really be stressed enough: your local businesses NEED you. If you are a maker or business owner, you may already know this, but many do not know what a truly difficult time of year this is for retail. For many, the slow months of summer can mean the difference between making it or closing up shop. August in retail is a do-or-die kinda month. PLEASE–if you love your local shops, pay them a visit! I’m not saying you have to make a huge purchase, but every little sale truly helps! If you love having unique, thoughtful venues to give your town character and alternate options to the big box, it is up to YOU (US!) to keep them afloat. Stop in, tell them how much you enjoy them, communicate what makes them special to you, and then, at the very least, buy a card! Chances are, they may even have some of the odds and ends you need for back to school, or an upcoming birthday present–get em now while you are thinking of it. Trust me, it all adds up.

    1. Alex – This is a good way to think about things. It is good to remember that every little bit counts. We often get caught up thinking that we have to make huge gestures to really help with something we care about. The small contributions really do mean just as much.

  5. I grow my own :) So at least I know where most of my fruit and veg comes from and what’s in them; I have recently taken to the company Lush for bath products (but only as gifts for friends – it’s too dear for me) so that has me thinking. We can’t afford the local deli :( but pretty much all our house stuff is fair trade. Clothes now, that is a whole new world..

  6. Over the last few years I have become a complete convert to organic and more importantly, locally raised foods. It’s a passion of mine. As it’s summer right now I buy all my produce from the farmer’s market and only go to the co-op for dairy and some meats.
    I sell my crafts (monsters) at a local street market where there are farmers selling locally grown produce and meats. It has been really fun getting to know the farmers and they’ve become my friends. I value the relationships I’ve built over the summer of selling our goods together and will continue to buy from them for many years to come.
    The more I know about conventional food practices the less I want to eat anything produced by those so called “farmers.” Everyone should watch the documentary Food Inc., and then go read some of the books that are the basis of the movie. Especially, Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
    While it’s still summer everyone get yourselves to your local farmer’s market. It is so much cheaper to buy your organic foods there than anywhere else. Go meet your farmer’s. Buy local.

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