Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Village Foods and SGF - Living deliberately

Just last week, I stopped by the new Village Foods (previously Appletree Market) to meet owner, Jim Lewis. I'd heard from several sources that he was actively meeting with local producers to stock a supply of local foods on the shelf. I'd also heard that he was interested in hosting the farmers market in his parking lot once a week. Of course, this is right up my alley. I was eager to meet him, talk more about his vision for Village Foods, as well as about some of the projects I'm involved with and how we can work together. 

Not long into the conversation, Jim's contagious enthusiasm for the changes coming to the store had me as excited as he was - new cash registers that print on both sides of the paper, new energy efficient freezers, a local gallery supplying art for the walls, the connections he's made with local producers to be featured in the store, and an amazing attention to detail. By the time we parted, I had an invitation to the grand opening and a new friend. 

Over the next couple days, we chatted over email.  We talked about working together in the local food movement, this blog, etc., and in one particular email, some of my lifestyle choices (like the fact that I bike just about everywhere I go, yet I take advantage of technology by using the internet to reach out to people through the blog). Here, let me offer you an excerpt of the email:

I really love the contrast between your decision to ride a bicycle as much as possible - old school technology - and your creation of a blog site - cutting edge technology. It's a cool blend of simple Amish-like lifestyle, but with a fat internet connection.

As I was reflecting on his comment, I realized that what he's talking about is finding balance - something that is an on-going struggle for me. It's really easy (at least for me) to get caught up in extremes - focusing on NEVER using the car; or NEVER eating anything that's not local (you get the idea). It's important to remember that extremism/perfectionism is not the goal. Here was my response:

I like what you said about balancing technology with a simpler lifestyle. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this (it's too easy to go to the extreme) that living a simpler, greener, or more frugal life isn't about depriving ourselves of things we want. It's about taking the time to think about what we truly enjoy in life (what brings us happiness) and balancing that with a symbiotic relationship with the Earth. It's about not doing things just because everyone else is doing them, but because we made a very thoughtful, mindful, deliberate choice to do them.

For instance, like you said, I use the internet/computer to reach out to people, yet I ride a bike. I made a very deliberate choice in both circumstances - I hate driving, but I love exercise, so I deliberately chose to live in an area where I can get just about everywhere I need to go by walking/biking. I have a computer and connect with people over the internet, mostly because I'm battling a long-term illness which at times can make me feel incredibly isolated and reaching out via computer makes me feel more connected. At the same time, we don't own a TV, a radio, or a stereo system (it's funny how people look at us when they find out we don't have a tv!)...

Anyway, It's amazing how much more fulfilling life can be when you start living deliberately. It changed my life (now going on 10 years).

This is similar to what you are doing in the store. Instead of going with a Whole Foods and spending a lot of money doing what they tell you to do to make it a Whole Foods, you took a step back, looked at what you really wanted and needed, and ran with it - very deliberate, mindful choices. I was really excited about the store after I spoke with you yesterday. I'm looking forward to shopping there for the things I can't pick up at the farmers market.

I realized as I was responding to his email, that this is a great reminder for all of us, and upon asking him, he generously granted me permission to publish our conversation. This journey of ours is about discarding all the chaff that clutters our life so we can concentrate our efforts on the things that bring true happiness. In living deliberately, we truly can make every day a beautiful adventure.

So tell me about some of the deliberate choices you have made in your life, perhaps against the grain of societal expectation. What have these choices meant to you? Has it made life more chaotic or opened a new world of opportunity. Do tell...

And for you locals - What a great opportunity to support a business that lives the very principals we strive toward! Village Foods is still in the process of remodeling (I'm really looking forward to the bulk bins) but they are currently open for business. Be sure to check them out over the next few weeks, then again after the Grand Opening on March 11. Or visit them on the web for health news, recipe ideas, and a wealth of other resources and information. 


Beany said...

Printing on two sides? Now that's innovation! For now I just refuse receipts because it winds up in the trash anyway.

Like yourself I do get caught up in extremes. In Philadelphia, I thought thrift shopping was excessive and so I never went shopping at all. I only had two pairs of pants that I washed and reused everyday.

For awhile my goal was to read about U.S. habits and then average it out to figure out how I ought to live. But that's weird. So now I'm just thinking about everything very carefully...will this make me happy in the long term? Am I lying to myself when I say this makes me happy? And so on.

Today I'm going to ride my bike to work. Its been years since I've been able to do that and I'm so looking forward to it.

Happy Monday!

Farmer's Daughter said...

A little tip... There are cash registers that can have receipts for customers turned off... We have them at our store. Most registers print two receipts (unless they're tied into a computer system, which our's aren't), and we can turn off the customer copy. We need the printed copy for our records... but if the customer asks for a receipt, we just hit a button after their order is done. It saves TONS of paper, since we'd fill a small trash can full of receipts people didn't want each day.

As for deliberate choices, once I make them they just come incorporated into my life and I don't think of them as deliberate anymore. Every time someone comments on my cloth napkin, it makes me realize that it is different to carry it around in my purse.

PS- I wish I could ride a bike around like you! Unfortunately, our streets are dangerous. Also, the bank branch near us and the small grocery just closed due to the economy, so now my trips are too long for a bike or walk, even if it was safe. I just have to make up for it elsewhere, I guess.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - Usually I take my receipts because at least then I know it'll get recycled. I wish you could have it just not print in the first place...

I wonder sometimes too about the things I justify in my head. Am I just trying to make myself feel better? In the end, we can't be perfect, so I instead work towards increasing mindfulness.

Yeah for the bike ride. Enjoy!

Farmers Daughter - I'll bet he has a similar system. It seemed pretty high tech - he mentioned that for local foods, he could program a electronic message that would pop up and say "thank you for shopping local." How cool!?

You're absolutely right about how our deliberate choices soon become habit. There are so many things now that I don't have to think twice about. We just do them. Each choice may be a tad difficult in the beginning, but if we persevere, we'll soon be pros!

Farmer's Daughter said...

I know what you mean about justifying... for example, I've been working really hard to justify driving my explorer into the city to take classes in environmental education. Am I a hypocrite, or just trying to do the best I can? Believe me, I'd buy a new car in a second if I could afford it! But this car is paid off... and it still works... and we're trying to save... and we plan to buy a new one when we start a family... so many justifications.

Heather @ SGF said...

Farmer's Daughter - you can look at it both ways, but I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is: Is the impact we are making (in this case driving the SUV) offset by what you are getting out of it (the education and ability to pass the knowledge to others).

And I think as long as we are living mindfully, we're on the right track. There will always be room for growth, but we do the best we can until an alternative presents itself. Does that make any sense?