lowlier-than-thou

I feel like my last two posts about veganism have been so goddamn holier-than-thou that something is needed to balance them out. You folks have so many great comments and thoughts and I’m looking forward to jumping into a great discussion.

But first.

I have a compulsion to cop to ways I’ve failed at the endless game of goodness in the past few weeks.

How this balances out my quest for vegan perfection I can’t really explain, but I’ve had a day-long stomach ache thinking about how I can be so uppity about veganism when I’m so flawed in other areas—so just bear with me.

First of all, I’ve bought a bunch of crap made in China recently. Some of it I needed for the business. Some of it I needed to get my cat to stop pooing by the front door (hellooooo black light). But some of it was just fucking clothes. Sweatshoppy clothes.

I am having a problem with saturday.com. I ordered a pair of jeans from them a few weeks ago because they were super cute and because they said “Made in the USA” on the website. I liked the jeans and decided to treat myself to a few other items. I hadn’t bought clothes in a while, and they reeled me in by introducing newer, cuter, more weirdly colorful clothes every week, and now I’m stupid hooked. The problem is that everything but their jeans is, as it says on the website “imported,” or, as it says on the label, “Made in China.” Direct violation of New Year’s Resolution, obvs. Until this moment, I have been steadily ignoring this fact. Truthfully, I’ll probably still ignore it, because those goddamn Utility Pocket Shorts fit me like a dream. A sweatshoppy, sweatshoppy goddamn dream.

Next. A nonprofit group advocating for ethical food misrepresented my business online and I FREAKED OUT. I sent them a crazy 1 am email (sample excerpt: “Please explain ASAP to me on what insane grounds you wouldn’t recommend my chocolate, when it is PRECISELY what you should be recommending. I’m insulted, confused, and hurt. Shoddy work like this undermines your efforts.”) and, when the founder of the group called to talk it out with me I was curt to the point of rudeness and got so hotheaded that I HUNG UP ON HER. Then I calmed down by talking to L and M at work and we decided I should call back. I did and we had a good chat, but STILL. COME ON, LAGUSTA. Ridiculous. It was a mistake and they apologized and we straightened it all out, but why freak out like that? I hate freaking out like that.

And then, someone published a recipe in VegNews that was clearly influenced by one of my recipes. I politely emailed the author asking for attribution to be added to the recipe, but they never responded. Then through internet snooping I saw that the author of the recipe had “liked” a comment from a friend of theirs that included the line “fuck that lady” about me because I politely pointed out, on the vegnews.com page for the recipe, ways it could work better (people were having a lot of issues with the recipe, I saw what was happening and wanted to help—and, of course, wanted to politely work in a line about how this recipe was inspired by mine…). This “liking” action proved guilt, to me, so I wrote BACK to the author saying again how, for serious, I was NOT TRYING TO BE AN ASSHOLE (it was not in all caps), but COME THE FUCK ON (It was much more polite than that)—cite your sources! Have you ever written a high school paper?

Why the hell do I even freaking care? Just keep your head down and focus on your work, man! This is how things go—they wend through the culture and it’s ridiculous to think you can keep your name attached to them. Just let it go. I hate it when my ego gets in the way like that. The thing is, it used to be that when you Googled “this recipe I’m not going to name” you got my recipe, and now with the crap-reputation of VegNews you’ll get that recipe and—oh, IT BURNS! I worked so hard on perfecting that recipe. The irony is that their recipe changed fundamental things that will actually make it much worse, too.

Writing about these things now, they don’t seem that bad. But man, they took a lot of time and effort out of my soul.

What else. My stupid produce supplier sent me non-organic haricots verts FROM NEW ZEALAND for this dinner I cooked and because I was short on time and really wanted haricots verts and not plain green beans I used them, even though that right there goes against alllllll my principles.

Tofu marinated in homemade miso for three weeks, garnished with wild watercress, dry-fried green beans, Shanghai-style strange-flavor smoked eggplant with ginger foam. Ramp sauce.

Tofu marinated in homemade miso for three weeks, garnished with wild watercress, dry-fried green beans, Shanghai-style strange-flavor smoked eggplant with ginger foam (foam not pictured. I forgot.). Ramp sauce.

And I bought a bag of Tings during a moment of intense stress yesterday. Knowing full well I was eating GMOs.

And I didn’t brush my teeth last night.

And I’ve been wearing the same hoodie for three days.

Sometimes when I come home at 1 or 2 am I know I’ll be too tired to get up and go back into the kitchen after the cats are done eating to turn off the light, so I feed them and turn off the light and trudge upstairs and make them eat in darkness. (Cats can see in the dark, right?).

Sometimes I leave my clothes in the washing machine for days and days. And days. And then I rewash them, because they get mildewy.

When Jacob’s not home to gently spray the cats with water when they scratch on the new couch, I sometimes pretend not to hear the scratching.

When customers I don’t like come into the shop, I hide in the back room.

I sometimes drink whiskey in bed at night, straight from the bottle.

When Jacob’s on tour I almost always eat dinner at or past midnight. (Could have something to do with the stomach aches…)

Oh, and the wild strawberries thing.

A Prominent Vegan Baker has been selling these cakes with what they are calling “wild strawberries.” I’ve been going into the woods every other morning to check on the growing status of fraise du bois, aka wood strawberries, aka alpine strawberries aka wild strawberries, and every time I see their teeny green fruits, the size of my pinky nail and the size of half of Jacob’s pinky nail, I get a bad stomach ache and have to walk it off before I get back in the car to go back to work. See, this Prominent Vegan Baker—who I’m pals with, who I like, who does amazing work for veganism, who has a fantastic heart—doesn’t, to my knowledge, use any organic ingredients. And since they make strawberry desserts year-round, they’re using non-organic, imported strawberries. Much has been written about the modern-day slavery on citrus groves in Florida and farms all around the world, including most particularly strawberry farms, so I’m kind of burnt up about this.

But you know what irks me the very most about it?

That they’re NOT ACTUALLY USING WILD STRAWBERRIES. They’re those cottony white things, the size of a fat baby’s fist.

AND I AM.

Truthfully, that’s MUCH MORE annoying to me than the fact that PROBABLE HUMAN SLAVES PICKED THOSE STRAWBERRIES.

See, the next giant huge 10-course 30-person fancy dinner I’m cooking is in June. The theme is foraged food. Originally I thought I’d call on my underground mycelium of foragers for ingredients, but now I have this idea that I will forage for everything. FUCKING INSAN-I-FUCKING-TY. I know this, but I can’t stop going to the woods to see what’s around and I can’t stop thinking about, since the dinner is 3 weeks away, how to preserve my foraged bounty until then. The fraise du bois have maybe two weeks until ripeness. I’m thinking I can either dry them, or lightly pickle them in a very sugary, southern-style (think bread and butter pickles) pickling solution. They fruit all summer up in the mountains here, but I probably won’t have time or luck to get them, since I’ll be too busy scratching through the woods getting everything else, in the days right before the dinner.

Fucking ego.

Fucking ego.

Fucking ego.

I have to go now. It’s a bit sunny. It rained yesterday. I need 27 more morels in order to serve morels at the June dinner.

Into the woods, stomach ache and all.

12 Responses to “lowlier-than-thou”

  1. deerly beloved bakery

    Hey Lagusta! I hope your stomach ache is better now. I just wanted to say that I don’t think it’s wrong to get angry about how they basically stole your recipe/idea for Veg News. The ‘Yokes’ are even fucking piped the same way! So much stuff goes on like this in the food world (I was going to say vegan world but I think it happens in everything) I have my cake pics used by people who pass them off as their work and this really hurts!
    Also as you said Wild Strawberries are not ready yet as I have some in my back garden that are mere flowers with a hint of an evolving green centre. I know ours in the Uk won’t be ready for at least another month!
    The other day I made a cake, sadly it has been one of my most popular cakes, it was my Oreo cake and after reading your posts from the last few days I thought ‘what am I doing?’ Why am I using these cookies when I only use local, organic where possible and natural ingredients? I got more lost in how everyone was raving about how Oreo’s are now vegan in the UK that I think I lost my way and thought how great it would be to celebrate this. Why would I want to celebrate this? That a shitty cookie is now vegan when I make AMAZING cookies from scratch! Why did this cake sell out at my stall super quick? Quicker than my big cakes normally do? I will be sticking to my home made honeycomb, balsamic brittle and ganache from now on to top my cakes. Thanks for reminding me of my values in your last two posts.
    XXX

    Reply
    • lagusta

      You, my friend, are too too cute. I’m happy to know you. That is all.

      xoxox to you!

      Reply
  2. zoe p.

    While I have positive, feminist things to say about creative and intellectual work v. “intellectual property,” I just don’t have it in me right now to write it out.

    I was sort of looking for that post about your side pain, though, because this week on Mad Men Joanie had an ovarian cyst. Christina Hendricks’ physical transformation fully expressed how deeply painful these can be, and also what a brilliant actress she is. I’m not sure you watch anymore, and I respect that, but I thought you might want to know ; ) She feels you.

    Reply
    • lagusta

      I just watched four Mad Mens (it’s been a busy month) then checked my email and saw this comment!

      Of course when I first saw Joanie clutching her side I said, “Hey, that’s what happened to me!” My mysterious pain only hurt that one day, so who knows. But thanks for thinking of me.

      I can’t quite get a handle on MM this season enough to have anything smart to say about it. What do you think?

      Mostly I just want to see more Joan. Always.

      Reply
  3. Randal Putnam

    Foraging alone for the entire meal could negatively impact the meal. Sounds like too much! Pay your suppliers to forage for you and save your energy for cooking and whiskey drinking. Everyone wins.

    Reply
    • adriennefriend

      I have to say I agree. I think the theme is awesome enough. Maybe forage for one or two ingredients. But don’t forage the whole thing unless you’re charging us much more each! :-) <3

      Reply
  4. ann

    I honestly don’t think foraging is supposed to give you a stress ulcer, unless that is you ONLY source of food.

    Step away from the forest.

    Reply
  5. Irene

    Just stumbled upon your amazing writing today! I went to NGI in 1999 and I so get what you were saying in another post about how different it was back then. My sis lives in Cold Spring and next visit I am determined to make a trip to your shop!
    You are clearly passionate about so many things and I think its admirable and strong and I so understand how ego sometimes gets in the way but all we can do is catch ourselves and do better next time? I don’t know since I am figuring things out every day and every day things change.
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and honest writing!

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Thanks, Irene! What a lovely comment. Ah, yep, the NGI. Now it seems so…formal! No crazy headscarves!

      Reply
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