I'm pretty sure I look confused and lost and generally out of tune with my surroundings while I'm food shopping. Every once and awhile I'm snapped back into reality from a can slipping out of son 2's hands or the feeling of ripping flesh at the back of my ankle from son 1's mini-cart as it plows into me from behind. Mostly, I walk around appearing clueless to passer-byes while thoughts of "what's for dinner and lunch and tomorrow's dinner and snacks and....." spin through my head. So goes the problems of a middle-class mother in the developed world.
Somewhere, another mother is ladling a paste of ground roots and unpurified water into her son's mouth with her bare hands. And she's probably a righteous vegetarian.
"Can I help you find something?," the young woman with blond dreadlocks at the co-op asks me. "I'm okay, thanks," I reassure her. Son 1 begs for some string cheese and the girl smiles and suggestingly adds, "all the meats and cheeses are in the next isle."
"MEAT?!?" Son 1 exclaims, as if she just dropped the f-bomb at us, "we don't eat MEAT! We are vegetarians!"
"That's awesome!" Responds Ms. Dreadlock as she turns to me, "ya know, only in the first world do people eat so much meat. Most of the world is vegetarians, like us."
I tried my best to hold back. I wanted to give her well-meaning self a small lecture on why the term "first world" isn't even accurate terminology. I wanted to tell her the Cold War is over. I wanted to ask her why her nose is pierced and her nails painted blue and green and glitterly. I wanted to zap her into pause mode so I could just go back into the fog of grocery shopping.... But I couldn't. She continued to glorify the righteous choices of developing world peoples and somehow her rambling entered something about how Africans use and eat plants that they gather on a daily basis. How fresh and ..... How very, very Vegetarian.
"The thing is," I heard my mouth start to spill out, "most of those vegetarian developing world peoples would and do die for a piece of meat. They don't choose to be vegetarians after some PETA video or after a Dr Oz show. They are not eating meat because they simply do not have the access to it. Some are hardly sustaining on what they can gather. I'd hate to ever have to look at even one of these individuals in the eyes and explain to them why, with the access that is given me (such a blessing), I've chosen to be a vegetarian."
The fog began to lift and her nose-ring came back into focus. Her sweet, well-meaning expression had faded into an expression that could only say, "what's your problem, lady?" And so I just flashed a quick smile and moved onto the next isle. Back to the problems of a middle-class mother in the developed world. Back to "what's for dinner next week?" and "gee... I need a haircut!"