Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Kale Came Back, or Lewis Hyde and the Gift Economy

Remember how good I felt being able to give away a few bunches of kale?

Today some of the kale came back.  And when it did, it looked like this:
That's granola with kale chips!  Homemade by my musician friend Gabriel, a talented, think-outside-the-box cook.

When I told Gabriel how much I've been noticing and appreciating the gifts people give me, he asked if I'd ever heard of the writer Lewis Hyde.  Nope, I hadn't.  But it turns out he is the author of The Gift, a book about gift-giving in different cultures and about the contrast between a gift economy and a market economy. 

Here's a nugget from  JoAnn Schwartz's review of The Gift:
In a market economy, one can hoard one's goods without losing wealth. Indeed, wealth is increased by hoarding--- although we generally call it 'saving'. In contrast, in a gift economy, wealth is decreased by hoarding, for it is the circulation of the gift(s) within the community that leads to increase--- increase in connections, increase in relationship strength.

I think part of the reason I love Fiddleheads is that although money changes hands at the check-out counter, it is also a hub of the local gift economy.   People donate books to the co-op's honor system library; musicians donate performances; someone even donated much of the shelving and refrigeration.  On top of that, it is 100% volunteer run.  Many people are giving the gift of time so that the co-op can stay open.

In other consumption news, I bought brightly colored plastic:
red, green and yellow plastic lids for sprouting jars, along with an assortment of seeds. 

Lastly--gasp--I bought these:

A gluten-free chocolate muffin and a coffee.  I didn't buy these to rent table space at a cafe while I talked with friends.  I didn't buy them because I was hungry and needed food.  (I'd brought split pea soup from home but ate this instead.)  No, this was strictly an impulse buy, probably the most wasteful (but delicious!) purchase I've made since I started tracking everything.  Let's just call it a gift I gave myself for volunteering at the co-op.

No driving today!  I think I deserve another muffin.

Today's Consumption Totals:
Sprouting seeds and lids: $7.76
Lunch (muffin and coffee): $3
Gifted to me: kale granola
Miles Driven: 0


  1. "To have joy one must share it. Happiness was born a twin." Unknown author - printed on a Christmas card my mother sent out when I was a child, and I liked it so much I kept one till this very day.

  2. What a surprise smile you just gave me, Kato. Thank you.

    I think I'm learning awfully late how to be generous and how to be thankful. I think this blog is helping.