A sea of green veggies await, grown by the tender fingers and wholly organic love of a local grower.
Oh. I’d love to get me some of that, you tell the local farmer at the market, only I would eat for three days if I spent my money here. Were I to spend my Andrew Jackson on prepackaged frozen stuff I could sustain the household for a week and a half. Can you cut me a deal? I’d love to eat healthier and support locals at the same time.
Inside you feel the warmth to be had from such an act.
|He doesn't look like it here, but author Nelson |
Algren lived in and understood poverty.
If I did that, we’d go out of business, the white man with the perfectly manicured dreadlocks tells you with a nearly emoticon-perfect frown. But it’s worth a little more to eat healthier. You will feel better too, he adds, as if that is reason enough.
You could explain the meaning behind an Andrew Jackson. He wants it and some, that local grower, as we all do, but that Andrew Jackson is a meal ticket for a week and half. There are no other $20s to be had until that week and a half has passed. Unless of course the IRS, or the electric company, or your car insurance, child support recipient – unless of course you can convince them all that eating healthier is why you won’t be paying them in full this month. Maybe if the local grower won’t cut you a deal, the gas station up the street will.
Then come the shrugged shoulders as you walk away from the market. Why go to the sea of green veggies in the first place? Perhaps because it seems like a place where the poor would be embraced? Because you want to see your family eat healthier? Because so many espouse the dangers of Monsanto and bad diet? And here, amidst a sea of veggies, is salvation. Only you mustn’t suffer from financial bruises.
And so it is through that lens that the cash-strapped view those who rattle their verbal sabers – those with fixed income sources claim volunteerism is the best cure for depression, those who strum love songs for the GMO-free lifestyle from a debt free perch, shout endlessly against the ills wrought by mankind’s genetically-predisposed opinions. And their opinions, as it is with those who shiver at the thought of tighter gun control and Obamacare, are loud and so very convincing. But we aren’t all living in a house paid off in full, we aren’t all sipping Americanos at the coffee shop while writing superbly canned existential poetry - paid for by the same trust fund that bought you the $3 drink. It costs a lot to look like you come from the street after all. Nor are we all able to cash in a pension and tell others they should do what they love in life, regardless of money.
But those opinions on health and big corporations are important for so many reasons. And they are commonly accepted as truth among the hipster crowd, just as religious truth is accepted among others. And the two will duke it out endlessly. When is it okay to call them both wrong? When is it okay to question the morals and cash-fueled existence of every American subculture – be they repubs, democs, gangsters, cowboys or trust fund babies?
Is it okay to tell an "earth mama" she has a pregnancy addiction after you get tired of hearing about how awesome it is they’ve further wrecked the population by having three or more liberal kids? Is it not cool to say that to the earth mama who loves her some Monsanto-free food, but okay to say it to the Mormon mom because she eats at KFC? Do they both live off the support of others? Their mom and dad perhaps, or someone further up the genealogical line who made the family’s money? Child support? Both? And do they take that money and look down their nose at those who won’t spend into their bill money for a sea of green veggies?
Both sides, donkeys and elephants, dreadlocks and Caesar cuts, lustfully embrace the root problem of supply and demand. It all costs. And only those who can afford to worry about it.
Writers such as Nelson Algren, Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, John Steinbeck and others championed the voice of the poor, as did some of the Beat writers, some of whom struggled to survive, and many sit on the shelves of those who clamor from their lofty perches about government control, corruption and spiritual benediction. But would they be able to afford a wi-fi connection at their home? Would they shop GMO-free? Would they be able to afford the latest Apple product or a gas guzzling SUV?
Or would they understand the need to free the voices currently gargling under a sea of paycheck-to-paycheck poverty?