Fewer, simpler choices at farmers market just fine
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, September 30, 2011

I don't recall the Marblehead Farmers' Market being rained out any Saturday this summer, but last weekend was close, so there were fewer vendor stalls occupied.

Of course, we wish for the best weather for the market vendors. But since I didn't cause the rain threat, I can admit to having enjoyed having fewer choices and a smaller crowd. I realized this as I wandered around, noticing artists I hadn't seen before because I'm usually quick-shopping my favorites from the bread booth to the fisherman's truck.

So as I sniffed soaps (by invitation) at Grace Farm Organics, I may have had a glimpse of a better world as compared to my presently cluttered life.

I like to buy a nicely scented goat's milk soap in the fall to enjoy during winter showers, but recall being overwhelmed by all the choices in other years. One year I chose "chocolate," which I can tell you was a mistake.

This year, the Lynn soap-maker explained, she was offering a smaller selection so that customers would have an easier time choosing.

The scents were mostly traditional like "luscious lavender," "oatmeal milk & honey," "honeysuckle" and a seasonal "pumpkin spice." I easily chose "almond vanilla."

Liking the attitude, I stayed to talk awhile, and noted that I'm also overwhelmed by face cream lately.

When I was a teenager, my mother told me that if I wouldn't stay out of the sun, I should at least protect my skin, and gave me my first bottle of Oil of Olay. I stayed with the brand for the next 50 years, but now when I look for the little pink bottle it's surrounded by dozens of other bottles, some of them made by the same company, but now called "total effects, 7-in-1 anti-aging mature skin therapy." I bought this with a coupon; don't like it.

Last spring, I couldn't find my traditional Coppertone 4, to allow tanning but prevent burning. The closest I could find was Hawaiian Tropic 6. Glad I never had a coupon for "Vitamin D Deficiency 15."

Standing there in the middle of the farmers market, I looked at my adult life and asked myself a question: What's with the coupons? Yes, they save money on what you plan to buy anyhow; but why do I let myself be manipulated into buying things I don't need in order to save 50 cents?

The Grace Farm lady offered me a sample of her "gentle daily moisturizer. It's not pink, but it feels like my old Oil of Olay. Bought a bottle, without a coupon; it was not only "made in Massachusetts," it was made in Lynn and wrapped in American-produced packaging!

And this is just face cream, folks. Think what I do with food coupons! No wonder I can't lose weight; my favorite ice cream treat, which I first tried because of a coupon, is on sale! Two for one!

Have you bought cereal lately? Facing all the varieties and flavors of Quaker instant oatmeal, I decided to buy the original round box, cook it five minutes, and add fruit from the farmers market. Whoa, that's a long five minutes. Glad I didn't buy the original, original oatmeal that you cook overnight on the wood stove.

I know, lots of people have long been urging a return to a simpler lifestyle. Buy local, anti-consumerism, that kind of thing. I've avoided them because mostly they seem to be liberals who also want higher taxes, gun control, politically correct speech and Obama's re-election. And they'd probably be annoyingly inconsistent, choosing the original, original oatmeal even though it takes more energy to cook than the instant cereal, then complain about global warming.

But unlike many conservatives, I'm not looking for "growth" either bigger, better, faster, more, more, more. The vital economic question is: How do we create jobs without constant, and often annoying, innovation?

You've never seen me cry; but then you haven't been in my house while I was trying to program my phones, or after I lost a caller because a finger accidentally hit a tiny button on the tiny handset.

For some reason, my living-room radio comes on by itself at 8 p.m., while the portable radio in my bedroom comes on at 7 a.m., then shuts off an hour later. What did I accidentally program, what did I do with the instruction booklets?

Please don't feel bad if I refuse you as a friend on Facebook or whatever. I have merely rejected Facebook itself, and all the other social whatevers.

I will not Twitter. You want to know what I think, read my column. (It took me a lot more than 140 characters to get all this out of my system!)

And I haven't even started on how I'm not getting a Kindle, which I've tried and hated.

The simpler world I glimpsed at the soap stall would probably damage what is left of the national and world economies, as people preserved, repaired, made do and enjoyed a book-swap paperback instead of buying the latest new stuff and frantically keeping in constant touch with limitless new friends.

Innovation, which has driven all world progress, has become enough of too much. Now what?

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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