Monday, September 06, 2010


I have discovered another peeve quite recently.

Sometimes things just fly right up my nose like one of those tiny, fluttery bugs that you don't see until you accidentally walk into a swarm of them. You know what I'm talking about, right? They get up there, and even though you are pretty sure the bug flew right back out again, you still have the sneaking suspicion that it might have laid eggs in your brain or something? that just me? Oh, well...sometimes I get the same feelings about something I read, see or hear.

For the last couple of months, I have been on the search for some little things that I can do to make my life a bit healthier. I am not talking about going to the gym or throwing out all of the food I have with high fructose corn syrup in it (suck on THAT, Jillian Michaels), but more like little changes I can make that don't overwhelm me so that I might be more likely to stick with them. Since we have a Fresh Market and an Earth Fare within easy reach these days, I thought that maybe bringing healthier snacks and more organic products into our house a bit at a time might be a nice thing to try. So far, this has been going pretty well. I mean, I can't say that everything I've gotten has been spectacular (i.e. health shakes with algae in them), nor have I had any earth-shattering, positive health changes since trying the new stuff, but I've found a few new things that I like a lot and knowing that they are better for me is a good feeling.

I took my search to the internet to find other small ways of making healthy changes, and I discovered an entire world I wasn't really aware of: the granola crunchy, tree huggy, raw food, all natural, nuevo-hippies. These people are SERIOUS about being natural in all kinds of ways. They are a Volkswagen van and a couple of Burning Man tickets away from basically setting up a commune.

OK, let me clarify, I wasn't UNAWARE of these kind of people, but I never really knew many details about them or the way they did things until I was doing my research. I have found people who only eat organic foods and people who don't cook their food in anything hotter than a food dehydrator. I've found folks who will only wear makeup that is made from beets and algae, as well as people who never use any chemicals when cleaning their houses. There is a whole new world of weirdness out there, if you know where to look.

I've actually learned a lot of very interesting and useful things by reading about these unconventional ways of life. I have begun eating Chia seeds, which you can put on anything, are very good for you (and they make a weird kind of gel if they get wet) and I've started washing my face with honey. I even tried making some of the makeup with the beets, but it didn't work out too well. These things sound unusual, I know, but they are actually good things that make some sense when you read about why people do them. There are genuinely some websites with good advice, although not everything is useful for everyone. The things I've learned about came from many different sources, and while all of them differ in some way, they almost all have one very irritating thing in common and that thing is what peeves me.

It isn't my intention to judge these people for the way they live, so please don't think that is where I'm going with this. I'm also not condemning every person I've come across, because it isn't all of them that do it. The fact that there are people who sew their own reusable maxi pads out of old pillow cases and never eat wheat isn't the thing that irritates me. It is their all consuming, highly convicted, absolute surety that what they are doing is right, and anyone who does it differently is a complete and utter idiot. Yes, it is the self-righteous hippies that have earned a place in my menagerie of pet peeves.

It wasn't so obvious at first glance, really. I mean, almost everyone has their own preferred way of doing things, so you expect to see people really extolling their lifestyles if they are going to go through the trouble of writing about and photographing it. For example, if someone is a vegetarian and writing about it, you expect them to talk about how much they like being vegetarian. I'm cool with that, and I admire people who have the self control to be vegetarian, at least until they begin telling me that meat is murder (delicious, delicious murder.) Vegans are worse, because they get mean about it. I'm generalizing, I know, but every vegan I've come across has been defensive and judgy about anyone who isn't also vegan (I chalk it up to the lack of meat in their diet.) I actually bought a vegan cookbook by accident,decided to give it a chance, and had to give it away to a friend because the people who wrote the book were insufferable.

Then we have the Raw Food people I came across, which weren't so much mean and judgy as much as they had a superior attitude. Maybe they didn't even mean to sound like that, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. The more I read, though, the worse it seemed to get. I mean, eating nothing but raw foods (nothing heated over 160 degrees, I think, because they believe that anything higher than that kills the nutrients in the food) is both complicated and inventive. Seriously, it's a hard way to do things when you have to start your dehydrators a day before to make sure you have dinner ready on time. It also calls for unusual combinations of foods to make sure everything sticks together. It's an interesting way to live, certainly, but why exactly does that make them feel as if they need to pat the rest of us on the heads and marvel at our plebeian attitudes towards food? They drink raw milk? Good for them. Personally, I think that's dangerous (and so would Louis Pasteur.) They feed their kid nothing that wasn't 100% organic to begin with, completely vegetarian, and never, ever let them have anything as common and vulgar as a french fry? Good for them! Although I hate to tell them that it won't give their kid super powers, and also, if they ever let their precious snowflake go to a friend's house, they will probably be given something to eat with artificial colors in it. They are the equivalent of those annoying people who are on diets, who then watch you eat and then tell you how fattening the food YOU are eating is. I'm completely fine with people who eat differently than I do, but when they start trying to convert me by being condescending and judgmental...that's when I begin to want to stab them with a fork.

Food aside, I was reading a blog about natural beauty products and clicked on an article that was quite interesting. Everything was fine until I reached the part where the reader is admonished for using products that have chemicals in them. OK, fine...that writer IS writing for a health blog after all, and may have been shilling for some product. I can totally dig that. It just got worse, though. By the time I got to the comment section of this article, things had devolved to the point of actual ugliness: "I just can't believe there are people who are stupid enough to use products that aren't all natural." Uh...ok? And how does that make them stupid? Or my personal favorite "I never wear makeup, but..." and then they go on to talk about how silly people are for buying and using makeup from a conventional brand instead of buying organic and natural stuff from some obscure company that is located in the wilds of Nova Scotia or wherever. Nice. That is like me saying "I never watch football, but here is why I think your favorite team is overrated and badly trained, and why I think you should be fans of this other team I also don't care anything about because they practice on real grass instead of AstroTurf and have an endangered species as a mascot." There was even one person who mentioned the dangers of deodorant. I kid you not, they actually said "I always use *whatever product they were talking about* but not even every day. You don't even NEED to use deodorant, really, if you stop using it for a while."

Say what?! Okay, everybody out of the pool.

Look, I can understand that these people have found something that works for them, and that's great. If they want to spend huge amounts of money on organic and natural products that are hard to find, more power to them. If they get a warm fuzzy for using these things or eating certain foods because it makes them healthier, good for them. What I can't understand, however, is their almost universal disdain for people who do things differently. Everyone, everywhere, does things differently, don't they?

I also don't like the fact that they guild the lily a bit when they talk about how this whole organic lifestyle thing works. If you listen to them, this is the picture you get:

Maybe some people actually live like this, I don't know. You'd think, by the descriptions of the people who talk about how great this lifestyle is, that once you purge your life of all of the chemicals and artificial colorings, only buy organic cotton clothes and shoes made from hemp and recycled newspapers, and buy all of your vegetables from the most DARLING farmer's market (and oh, PLEASE don't even get me started on the farmer's markets) that your whole life becomes this beautiful, natural, easy experience. Not so much.

What they don't tell you is that some of those chemicals you use in shampoo and soap were created for reasons. Not everyone can wash their hair in olive oil and milk...I know I can't. They tell you that there are natural ways to wash your face no matter what kind of skin you have, but those ways don't always work. Sometimes it will just give you a rash or pimples the size of dimes. They don't talk about how natural deodorants might keep you from smelling bad, but they don't stop the giant pit rings from soaking into your shirt. They don't talk about how easily cotton clothes shrink, or how natural dyes fade quickly, or how sometimes wearing hand sewn, fair trade shoes don't give your feet the support they need. They also don't talk about how stinking expensive it all turns out to be. It's all good and well for people who can afford it to buy and use these products to do so, but it is ridiculous for them to look down on people who can't afford them, and although they don't say it right out loud, I always get the feeling that they don't care if you can honestly afford it or not, they will still judge you for not doing it! UGH!

SIGH. OK, I guess my rant is just about done. I realize I have just ranted and raved over something kind of stupid. I can't help it if smarmy better-than-you types make me mad, though. I suppose this is why it is petty.

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