Everything is Too Cheap!

By Cam Mather

Ever look at an English muffin and marvel at the wonder of it? Well you should. If you bought it at a grocery store you just have no idea what went into it. Michelle has made English muffins a few times and they were fantastic! Everyone loved them! The flavour was out of this world! A few weeks ago she was thinking about making another batch and she got out the English muffin recipe and left it on the counter. It’s been taunting me ever since, but like any smart husband who works in a business with his wife, and who is perfectly capable of cooking and baking, I didn’t say anything. Then we had our friends Bill and Lorraine over for brunch on Sunday and Michelle bought “Thomas’ English Muffins.” They are much better than the run of the mill ones we usually buy, but still not in the same league as home made.

So I finally decided I would make my own darn English muffins. Holy crap! You should see the recipe! It’s massive. There are 27 ingredients, 140 steps and it takes about 3 days! No way I was going down that road. Instead I decided to marvel and enjoy the Thomas’ ones that she bought.

This is a problem with life today – we don’t have time to appreciate things properly. The average grocery store stocks 45,000 different items and English Muffins are just one of them. When you look at the work of making your own you can’t help but pick up an English muffin with reverence and wonder and be humbled by the greatness you hold in your hand. Or at least you should, but you don’t. And that’s too bad. If we just took a minute to realize what we have access to these days and how affordable it really is, I think we’d all be happier.

Have you walked around a dollar store lately? I do and it takes forever because I keep running to find Michelle and show her something and say “How do you make that for a buck?” Or more accurately, how can someone make it for 50¢ since the retailer is adding his or her mark up. How do you buy the energy to make the steel and process the steel and shape the steel and add the plastic handle to make that… fill in the blank________ let’s say “can opener”, and then put it on a cardboard backing and manually put a couple of twist ties on it, then put it in a cardboard box and buy the energy to ship it from China to North America, all for 50¢. It’s a miracle! It’s crazy!

Now I have some idea how it’s done from watching the documentary “Manufactured Landscapes.” http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/film.php?directoryname=manufacturedlandscapes

It shows the reality of the Chinese economic miracle and it looks like a pretty miserable existence for the people who make these products. The environmental impact of much of this manufacturing is a nightmare too.

When Michelle and I got our first apartment together 25+ years ago a can opener cost about $7.00. Our plates were $5 each and towels $9 each, and cutlery and glasses and paintbrushes all cost a lot more than just a buck. Now if you were moving far enough away it might be cheaper to just leave everything in your old place and buy it all new at the new place. I’m not advocating this, I’m just suggesting that this is the crazy point we’ve arrived at.

I cannot change the world or the economic model that puts such a low premium on the environment that a can opener could be manufactured for so little money. What I can do is continue to be grateful that I live in a time of such abundance and I can enjoy every bite of the English muffin that I was able to purchase and not have to bake for myself!

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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