Sunday, July 25, 2010

Urban Outfitters outrage

If you've been following the blogs of various celebrities or fashion critics, you've witnessed more than just a few grievances about trendsetter Urban Outfitter's latest creation, a tee advising its wearers to "eat less."

Icons like Sophia Bush have voiced their dissent with the company demanding that the corporation apologize for its "sickening" message, most often citing that the shirt encourages girls to "starve" themselves and only furthers the crisis of body image in teen girls. Quite frankly, these icons are missing the point.

Those who have followed UO's edgy and affordable mission have recognized its early jump on the "green" trend, often times using words with double meanings to provide that edge its buyers have come to know and love (come on, what twenty-something urbanite doesn't love the attention and the controversy?). The "eat less" shirt has once again followed in that selling strategy.

First and foremost, "eat less" is in no way referring to anorexia or eating disorders of any kind -- it is the latest mantra in healthy eating; that in our day and age of overconsumption and ginormous portion distortion (that's kind of catchy...), nutritionists and health specialists alike are regularly recommending that America, well, eats less! The fact that our favorite celebrities have chosen to take a stand on a controversy that is not built-in with this slogan only points to the little follow-up these celebrities do in the realm of health and beauty.

Sure, UO probably left the true intention of the shirt open for discussion. But considering they're a business, you can bet they did this on purpose; controversy is free advertising! To say that the company is promoting unhealthy body image or should donate "hefty" amounts of money to an eating disorders unit is ridiculous. The tee's message is actually one worth considering, one of eating less junk for the sake of our health, less processed food for the sake of our bodies, and less carbon-creating products for the sake of our earth.

Yeah, I said it -- these celebrities don't know what they're talking about! So buy away, spend your hipster dollar at the UO guilt-free. Make sure to tell Sophia hello for me while you're there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Agvocacy: advocacy in the fields

When the typical suburban/urbanite hears "farm," picturesque visions of tractors and bales of hay under a dandelion sun play across the screen, complete with perfect black and white-patterned cows munching grass, muddy pigs sitting behind white picket fences, and a head farmer in overalls and a straw hat. But Facebook? Not exactly the first though that comes to mind. But believe it or not, farmers are jumping on the latest trend in communication and tweeting about their tractors and YouTube-ing farm tours.

This new form of agriculture advocacy, dubbed "agvocacy" (or "agucation" when it comes to the educational aspect), has sparked more than just a trend in the world of farming and cultivation -- it's sparked the national conversation that the field has been desperately attempting to start for so long! How often do we know the source of our food, let alone the work our area farmers have put into that very food? When have we been able to sneak a peek at the routine of the workers of the land; the four or five am wake-up calls, the prayers to the weather gods, the Sundays and holidays that demand work over play?

By equipping farmers with the skills to use technology most effectively, we're opening doors for ourselves and our communities. When Farmer Bob's corn is at its prime, your Twitter feed will remind you to pick up a few ears. When you're low on ideas for dinner, you can register online for your area CSA and discover a world of produce fresher than you'd ever imagined. Even when you're simply curious about the where your cage-free egg came from, a simple click can transport you to the family farm in the form of a Facebook video. When we are able to make connections between our food and our farmers, we take on more responsibility for our actions and our power as buyers. We begin to trust the people behind the produce, then build a relationship based on that trust and fuel that relationship with our dollars, votes, and voices. This pools money into our local economy, boosting the need for the farms of our community to grow, leading to more jobs, more resources...and more yummy product!

While the average American is two generations removed from the farm, social networking can again reconnect the public with the plow. Who knew that being an agricultural activist would eventually only require a click?

P.S. A prime example of the effect technology is taking on farming, check out Local Harvest, a search database that can help your find the farmers market near you!