As you can tell, life in Asheville is good. I feel complete and at home here, and you know the main reason?
I can have INTEGRITY!
There are sustainable options here. Sustainable for me means 1) earth-friendly: ingredients and byproducts are not toxic 2)socially friendly: elements that comprise a product or service are obtained from people who are fairly treated and compensated 3)community-oriented: I prefer to put money back into the system I earned it from
A perfect illustration of this is to describe my morning grocery shopping: Amazing Savings is where I started out. For those of you who don't know, this place rules. They resell groceries that are rejected from larger stores but still in perfectly good condition, and they sell it cheap. This is where I buy organic produce because it's reasonably priced and as local as possible. Today I got some kale from Gladheart Farms (this farm is in town, I have volunteered there!) I know that Amazing Savings buys Gladheart's slightly homely looking fruits and veggies that the bigger stores pass up. This store is my first and favorite stop because 1)it's locally owned: the owner lives here, the profit is spent here! 2)they make their customers happy with cheap prices 3)they have great relationships with local farms and bakeries.
Earth Fare comes next to fill in whatever I can't find elsewhere. This store is good because they have a lot of organic and earth friendly options, sometimes local, but it's on the expensive side. I used to go to Greenlife because it was locally owned and I didn't mind spending an arm and a leg since I knew the profits were going back into my town. Now Greenlife has been bought by Whole Foods, the prices have dropped a little but that extra profit that comes from the organic aura does not go straight into my town, it goes to that corporate funnel and wherever the CEOs live and spend their money. Same with Earth Fare. One thing that I loved about the former Greenlife was that everything in the store was organic, I didn't have to scrutinize every label. I believe that corporate grocery stores who purport a "Green" image should set a standard, and only support the green industry. But Whole Foods and Earth Fare sell products that contain toxic ingredients. They do the whole "natural" packaging thing where they use the word to describe one ingredient and let you assume it describes all the ingredients in the product. Natural flavors are still created in a lab. You shouldn't have to watch your back in a health food store.
Many, many towns in the United States of America do not have an Amazing Savings. This means that most people cannot afford to buy food with that supports their community directly. Even if there is a local co-op or health food store, it's likely to be quite expensive. The reason these small stores need to charge more is because fewer people shop there, so stop by even if you can't be a full-time patron. It is certainly worth a few extra dollars to buy their organic produce. This food has a lot more value than genetically modified vegetables from the other side of the world sold at a giant chain store. So, support the smaller store first, and the more responsible one second. Amazing Savings vs. Earth Fare, Whole Foods vs. Wal-Mart.
Sustainable options are really the key to a better future. Every person has the desire to live with integrity! The really sad thing is that some people give up on it because it's too difficult and expensive. It's my belief that this throwing in the towel does something deeply hazardous to a person's psyche, soul, self-image, etc.
But! More people are choosing the right option whenever possible, which is opening the door to entrepreneurs (like me) who want to provide these options. Asheville attracts such entrepreneurs, so I have options all across the board for responsible living, that's why I feel at home.