Sunday, August 3, 2008

What Eco-Conscious Consumers and French Women Have in Common

Last year a book came out by Cliquot Inc President and CEO, Mireille Guiliano, espousing the virtues of enjoying food, as a diet. Her bestseller, “French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure,” rocked American readers who always wondered how cheese, chocolates, mousse, bread, and wine yielded a thinner French physique (the obesity rate in France is 11% as compared to our 30%, which is 30 pounds over a healthy weight.)

Anecdotally, this makes sense; slow down and engage each bite with consciousness. The only problem with that is the food has to be good, but really good. Produce hauled for days in refrigerated boats and trucks, dairy heavily processed for longevity, and meats packed in ice for shipping as is the case with most chain grocery goods don’t stimulate the palette to entice anything but wolfing food down.

This is where sustainable eating comes in. Local produce plucked within days of consumption really tastes better. Seasonal dishes dictated by the weather outside and in-tune with what your body craves, yields foodgasmic results. Eating fish caught within 24 hours tastes how a great sentence reads, and demands a full stop. Not just a comma or pause in which to shovel more food into your mouth.

In 1988 Susan Sommers wrote, “French Chic: How to Dress Like a Frenchwoman,” which addresses the question, why do French women have such polished, elegant style? Sommers answers, unlike American women who purchase cheap trendy pieces frequently, French women use common clothing items in uncommon way, combine high-end designer with thrift-shop, and tend to buy durable clothes that work for many seasons, if not decades.

“Cute dress, Kathryn!” I recently told my roommate. “Yeah, it was only $14.95 but I can’t wash it because it will fall apart.”

If purchasing a cheap dress means one time use, the conscious consumer must ask the question, shouldn’t I save up and spend a bit more for a quality garment, that is healthier for me and the earth, and that I can wear and wash for years to come?

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