Thursday, April 26, 2012

Putting Our Money Where My Mouth Is

Yesterday was a small adventure day for us. Every now and then, we like to take the bus up to Waterloo and hit one of my favorite seed stores, Ontario Seed Company. One of our favorite restaurants, Cora's, is right across the road and we always stop there for breakfast or lunch. (If you ever have the opportunity to eat at a Cora's, you really should! Their dishes are like no other breakfast or lunch you've ever had for these prices!) We went with a small four page list of seeds to get for both us and my Mother, and I would say we got at least three of those pages. We also found a mortar and pestle that my darling partner had been wanting.  Actually it was a set of three mortar and pestles, so I would say she's set for a while now. We got flower seeds (corn poppy, california poppy, morning glory, shasta daisy, salvia, and two different kinds of impatiens). We got vegetables and a fruit (iceberg lettuce to add to our growing collection of lettuces, cabbage, collards, onions, more peppers, zucchini, broccoli, pumpkin and cantaloupe) We also started our herb collection off with lavender, lemon balm, rosemary,  arugula, and purple coneflower, which is also known as echinacea. As if all that wasn't enough, we also wandered a few blocks in search of a store that sold a certain type of bag that Betty wanted. I knew she wanted one that had a woven, ethnic, "Himalayan-look", but with a zipper for security and a long strap so she could wear it across her body. I commented to her that if Ten Thousand Villages didn't have one, no one would. You're probably giving me the same questioning look she did. To explain,
"Ten Thousand Villages is an organization which sells handicrafts from “developing” countries through its network of stores in Canada and the USA, as well as hundreds of annual Festival sales. Ten Thousand Villages is a program of Mennonite Central Committee, a relief and development organization working in more than 50 countries around the world. Ten Thousand Villages has its roots in the work begun by Edna Ruth Byler in 1946." Even better is the fact that the artisans all belong to collectives, which gives them bargaining power, and the fact that the craftspeople are paid half when the order is placed and half before the finished order ever leaves their country. It's good to know my money isn't lining some crooked politicians pocket!

I like the fact that they put the producer before the product. This isn't Wal-Mart. You won't find items made by 12 year olds forced to provide for their families in horrible conditions for pennies a day. Now I'm not implying that Wal-Mart supports sweat shops, but think about it, how else do you think they can offer the products they do at those prices all the time? Not accusing, just sayin' ... think about it. So anyway, in we went and I immediately saw a bunch of things that appealed to me, not the least of which was the wooden cabinets and tables made from abandoned and reclaimed wood. These pieces had class, style, character and they were made from more solid wood than your average $25 entertainment unit. I loved them! While Betty shopped for a bag that was exactly what she wanted, I came across the perfect coffee mug. It was hefty in my hand, it felt solid and it held a serious amount of coffee! I am VERY particular when it comes to my favorite mugs. They must have style, heft and look damn good too. I found one. (No Betty, this does NOT mean you can throw out my brown one with the broken handle)
Even better than how this feels is that I know who made it! "Drink your morning coffee from this stunning ceramic mug and contribute to the well-being of talented artisans from India. Moulded from clay by the skilled hands of local artisans, this mug is characterized by its deep blue hue, stylized motif and perfect glaze. A mug of style and substance."

So we got a good supply of seeds for the next few growing seasons, had an awesome lunch and even got to support craftspeople in developing countries. We ate well, provided for our future sustainability and shopped politically.
I'd say that's putting our money where our mouthes are!


Jacquelineand.... said...

It sounds like the two of you had a wonderful time and found some great treasures! Good on you for spending your money on things you believe in.

LindaM said...

Nice! Did Betty get her bag?
There is always a special feeling on days like yours isn't there?

Carolyn said...

Yes, Linda, Betty not only got her bag, she's extremely happy with it. It was a good day all around.

Jenn said...

That mug is lovely, and it sounds like you've had a wonderful day overall! I really like Ten Thousand Villages - it's time I should head over again, since I especially like seeing what books they have - and I'm hoping to pick up some seeds when I'm in KW next month.

Practical Parsimony said...

I like that mug! Supporting artisans is very important, here and abroad.

When my friend lived in Yemen, she brought back gifts bought in places that produced items for everyday use, not touristy things.

How very nice that you shopped for your mother, too.

Blondi said...

I did get a lovely bag, just what I wanted, and it was half price too! I'll get Carolyn to take a picture of it and post it.