I took a couple steps back to peek into the office from which I had heard my name. Three or four of the judge advocates I work with were gathered for an end-of-the-day gab session. "I'll know what?"
"What, exactly," one of them asked me, "is patchoili?"
I supressed a bit of laughter. "Why do you think I'd know that?"
The answer is obvious. It has long been established that I am "The Hippie of the Law Center." I handed over what little knowledge I have of patchouli (which I consider to be a little more tied in with drug culture than the organic, plant eating, food growing, chemical free, pagan-y circles I perfer, but whatever, I did know what it was). The conversation then went on to much more hilarious topics that I won't be touching on here.
Over the course of the last year, it has been far from unusual for my coworkers to ply me with random questions about my beliefs and lifestyle. Always respectfully and out of curiosity, mind you. The Marine Corps can be a pretty homogenous place, and the assumption is often that Marines are conservative and Christian. Often, that is exactly the case. But you also run into exceptions (like raging liberal UU Pagan Marines, ahem). I find that most of the judge advocates (military attorneys) I've worked with have been much more liberal than the general military population is held out to be.
Regardless, while many of my fellow attorneys are pretty liberal, they are also, by and large, Christians and not at all what one might call "hippies." Except me. The Hippie of the Law Center.
It is not unusual for me to find myself in a discussion about "crunchy" topics with one or two of my coworkers. Most often, they want to know about ethical eating and why I feel strongly about it and what I've read lately. About two months ago, one of them, who I'll call Capt Curious for simplicity's sake asked me to come to his office. He wanted to show me a video. He said he thought of me the moment he saw it. He was totally right, and I LOVED the video:
This IS me. Really. Right up until the point where they decide to actually go to the farm, this is me. Okay, I've gone to the farms themselves, too, but not in the middle of dinner ;-) I love Portlandia. Everything about it. Especially Dream of the 90's. I love the 90's just as much as the 80's. Maybe even more because the style wasn't quite as horrifying. If you haven't checked out Portlandia, you should. Love it. And it totally confirms that MacGyver and I have been right in our continuing desire to move to Portland, OR (though I don't see that happening until the kids are older).
Anyway, Capt Curious showed me that clip, which I stated was a more accurate representation of me than he probably realized, and we talked a little bit about Food Ethics. I told him that I don't eat factory meat becasue of the deplorable conditions - both for humane reasons and for health reasons. A couple other Captains wondered in through the course of our discussion, but the general feel was that no one else had really thought to look into it. Which I don't hold against them. That's sort of the status quo in the US. There is this assumption that mass produced = good, safe, healthy, etc.
The degree to which that assumption is wrong is horrifying once you really start to peel back the layers. The massively negative health consequences of eating large quantities of meat, processed foods, factory meat, and other common, accepted products are astounding. And it doesn't end at food - cleaning products, cosmetics (including shampoo and soap), even the materials from which our homes are built, are saturated with toxic chemicals. But so few people even realize it. So few people are paying attention. And really, who has time to pay attention to all of it? I mean, I'm obsessive about it, and I know I'm only scratching the surface.
Our system is broken. Just because something is in the grocery store or nicely packaged in NO WAY means it is safe or should be in your home or in your body.
And that was what we discussed. Or, I should say, that was the opinion I gave, to which my co-workers responded with skeptical acceptence.
Then, a couple days ago, Capt Curiosity approached me as I was milling around outside the courtroom.
"I saw Food, Inc. this weekend." he informed me with obvious joy, raising his hand for a fist bump (a fist bump? Really? If you knew me in real life, you would know how laughable that is. Maybe just reading this blog is enough to realize I am not really a 'fist bump' sort of person. Then again, none of my coworkers probably are, either... MacGyver laughed out loud when I told him.)
I returned the fist bump. "What did you think?"
Basically, he was really glad he had watched it, and he wished he had seen it sooner. He had no idea about many of the serious issues that come into play in food ethics and how much idiocy goes on before food ends up in our grocery stores. He told me he had decided to switch to only local, humanely and organically raised meat. I was happy for him.
"You've been won over to the hippie side." I told him.
And that is when he balked a little.
"Well," he said, "I don't really see it that way. I mean, I think wanting to know where you food comes from, being willing to do the research before making decisions doesn't make you a hippie, it just makes you responsible."
Huh. Apparently I'm not a hippie after all...