The Adventures of a Chocolate Covered Almond: Where Does It Come from? Where Does it Go?
As I sat down to write this post, I thought about all the things in my life, whether it be food, water, heat, clothes, or just any material good. I thought about writing on water and how before the instant it comes out of my faucet, the long journey it must have taken. Water is always moving. In nature, it follows the water cycle: start from the ocean and evaporate up into the air, condensate into clouds in the sky, and fall back down to the earth as precipitation in the form of rain. In my home, the water that falls out of my faucet probably started from a glacier or mountain at some point in its long, long life and then was stored and proportioned to be shipped off to homes. Once, the water has been "used" through drinking, showering, or washing dishes, it finds its way back into the cycle and is sent more often than not to a plant where it is treated and cleaned and is sent back to homes. There is all this complexity when it comes to really looking into where the water that just fell into your cup from the sink faucet came from. We often do not think about the background, yet we just see the final product and how quick we were able to receive it when we so wished to.
At this point of my tackk, I realized that I was actually feeling slightly hungry. I went to my pantry and took out a packet of Chocolate Covered Almonds from Trader Joe's and brought it back to my desk. As I opened the packet and put a few almonds into my mouth. I looked at the small packet of maybe 15-20 almonds and I started thinking about where IT came from. Almonds are grown on farms by farmers. These farmers are no ordinary people. They devote their life to tending to the earth and mother nature and treating her in the most respectful way so that they may reap the fruits of what she bears. From the point of planting the seeds to reaping the harvest of almonds, the farmer and his land get into a binding relationship, a covenant almost. The farmer loves his crops. He talks to them, treats them like children, and protects them from the harm of pests or extreme weather. With all this hard work and loving affection it receives, the crops also grows strong and big. They grow a lot of fruit, vegetables, and nuts. When it is time to finally harvest, the farmer gathers workers and they go to every single plant and pick all the nuts. They then clean them and send them to a factory. At the factory, they clean the crops further more and then mass dump them into vats of melted chocolate. Chocolate, to get to that melted point, has gone through its own journey from being raised by farmers as cocoa beans and them being crushed and grinded into cocoa paste and then being made chocolate. Then, these chocolate dipped almonds and sent off to be packaged, labeled, and finally after a lot of traveling, they end up on a shelf in Trader Joe's. However, all I see is that I walk in and there they are waiting for me amongst a myriad of other nut choices. When I buy them or when I eat them , I am not thinking about the tireless efforts of the farmers or the long factory process. Most people do not.
More than being neglectful, I feel that it is mostly because people generally do not know the long process and origins of many daily items in their life. The clothes that people wear, that say "Made in China" or "Made in India" have no more meaning than the fact that they were made and shipped from the places not he labels. The deeper process of harvesting the cotton, dying it, sending it to factories, and having cheap laborers gruel over it to be worth money and then shipping it is the unseen, while the different sizes and colors that they come in on the racks of Macy's is what is known. Maybe we should all give a moment the next time we look at ourselves int he mirror or even the next time we eat an almond to think about where everything came from. IT will surely put life into a whole other perspective and make you feel much more gratitude knowing that the tireless effort of so many provides you with the comforts and simple luxuries of your day to day life.