It's February. I'm standing at my kitchen window, looking at bare trees, a dormant garden, and pale grass that I'd like to imagine is waiting for Spring with as much anticipation as I. I'm sipping V-8. "Hot Spicy V-8." I love it.
But then I start to wonder: where did the tomatoes come from? I look at the bottle and nothing there answers my question.
I take another gulp. My sinuses sigh with happiness. I'm doing some spring cleaning and the kick-o-spice is clearing out the dust just so. However, my liberal mind set persists: Did these tomatoes come from California? Paraquay? Mexico? Who picked them? I swallow hard, imagining an 11 year-old hunched over in an endless monocrop field, picking…picking…picking. These are my "Gaia Girls." They should be home reading, not picking.
So, an anonymous, dark-skinned, grown man should be picking the endless fields…right? *Sigh* I put my red-stained glass on the counter and imagine the migrant worker picking endlessly so that I might have my V-8 moment of delight. I can't help but wonder if he can take his 11-year old daughter to the doctor should she get strep throat. Moreover, can he buy a flute (or piano lessons, or dance) like my parents did when I was in fourth grade.
As our global economy ripples and melts, I realize these thoughts are not academic musings, but choices that have flesh and blood reprucussions. How can I possible be the author of "fiction with a mission," if my own grocery-store habits are counter to that mission? I cast a baleful eye at the round plastic container my V-8 came in. How many gallons of water did it take to make it? How far was it trucked to be filled and back again to my store?
I love my "Spicy Hot V-8." Never in my life have I gone to the store and not seen it smiling from the shelves. But can I, with my supposed heart of compassion, continue to fuel myself with something that I know nothing about? If I were a stock broker of sustainability, could I recommend it?
Spring is coming. My family will be soon be buying seeds, tilling, planting, planning. What can I do, in the month of March, that will clear my conscience next February? I'm going to Google it. I'm going to attempt to find out where those tomatoes came from. But this is my blog, and I'm not a reporter.
I suspect that there are many people out there, sipping their ambrosia of health, mindless of the dis–ease it may beget. If you have any information about my tomatoes, I'd love to know.