Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Cookies, Cutting the Fat and More...

My Obama Cookie

My husband was in Ottawa this past weekend after the visit of President Obama. He had some time to go to the ByWard Market and found "Obama Cookies" for sale at the bakery stand where the president had purchased the red maple leaf treats. They were selling well as people lined up to buy a little piece of the week's history. The vendor had a good marketing edge over other sellers with the new name of his cookie. And I don't blame him for taking advantage of the short-lived fame he has earned. Tim brought two home for us and the large cookies were very tasty indeed, made with good quality fat.

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day...

Today is the day to get rid of all the fat in the house in preparation for the start of Lent tomorrow. In times past, Lent coincided with lean times at the end of winter when food, particularly eggs and meat were less available.

It is easier to fast if the cupboard is bare.

I have read that a few churches are encouraging their adherents to reduce their carbon footprint in this season leading up to Easter rather than giving up chocolate or sweets.

It is easier to do this when the economy is taking a prolonged nose-dive and jobs are being lost in large numbers.


"Cutting the fat" has more than one meaning this year. The big automakers are doing it, my employer is doing it, and many people are doing it through no choice of their own. My father emailed me an interesting article yesterday about the current economic crisis. A Financial House of Cards written by Mark Levine outlines history and attitudes that led up to the events that are now affecting the entire world. I found this comment on our society most interesting;-

People's identities were now increasingly defined by what they consumed rather than their religious beliefs or social actions.

The size of one's home, car and flat-screen TV, or the price of one's clothes, mobile phones and holidays became of paramount importance.

This economic ideology - based on the possibility, and desirability, of limitless growth - created an ethos of rampant materialism and individualism.

This attitude led to a borrowing binge that was not sustainable.


On one hand we are being encouraged to save our money, and on the other, to spend in order to boost the economy. These mixed messages are very confusing.

What do we really need? Our basic needs of food, water, clothing and shelter have enlarged to include a car, cell phone, cable TV, computers, internet and much more. One of my patients had an absolute melt down last week because she could not afford the TV hookup above her hospital bed. It didn't matter that the patient dining room has cable TV available to anyone, she felt she deserved her own unit. And she is no different than many other people, including myself. I don't care if I have TV, but I sure like my new camera and would be upset to be without high speed internet. I went to Walmart to buy two buttons the other day and walked out with $30.00 of merchandise. How did that happen? Retailers know how to display those things we think we need at the ends of aisles and around checkout counters.

For the next six weeks I have decided to make an effort to buy only what I need. I will try to stop and think before I pass money or a credit card over the counter and ask myself why I am making the purchase. I plan to keep track of the money saved and give it to a worthwhile charity. My "needs" may be hard to define at times, but this cutting of the fat before I really have to do it will undoubtedly be an interesting exercise in self control.

18 comments:

  1. What an interesting post! I like the idea of reducing one's carbon footprint. Work is only 1 mile away from home, so I try to walk to work as often as possible. I've heard that one can't reduce one's carbon footprint by a huge percentage, but it seems to me that any effort is worthwhile....

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  2. Terrific post, lots of stuff to think about. Giving up 'carbon' sure sounds way easier than chocolate, too!

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  3. jeannette St.G.2:07 pm GMT-5

    It's easier to expand than to reduce our expenditures! To me "extra's" are okay when we can afford them (that means to me, to save for them instead of buying on credit). Just this summer I made the decision that I need to control myself more with clothes, not to buy 2 items of the same but one. thanks for remindinding us with this post!!

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  4. Wonderful post. I have tried cutting my spending and do well for about a month or so and then my old buying habits creep up on me. I don't buy anything fancy, just a little bit of this and a little bit of that which all ends up being a lot of nothing in the end.

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  5. We adhere to the old fast and abstinence routines. On Fridays we have a meager meatless dinner, then put the money we would otherwise have spent in a container. After Easter we donate the money to the local food pantry.

    It is everyone's responsibility to reduce his/her carbon footprint. We all must do it.

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  6. I agree with Mark Levine's opinions. This lifestyle identified with possessions has been coming for a while.

    I like your story of the Obama cookies. That retailer knows what he's doing.

    Laughed at your Walmart story. I've done the same thing. Or going to buy milk at the grocery store, being tantalized by the smell of fresh bread and walking out with a loaf I really didn't need.

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  7. Ginger- It is easier to live selfishly rather than thoughtfully. Little changes do add up especially if we all do something.

    Deborah- I agree, carbon is easier than chocolate, lol!

    Jeanette- "It is easier to expand than reduce"...so true in more than one way.

    Kim- so true, and unfortunately many of us indulge our children irresponsibly and they carry those lessons to adulthood too.

    NCMW- I admire your meaningful observance of Lent. Fasting does increase our spiritual awareness and helps us see beyond our own desires.

    Wendy- The article does make several very interesting points. This crisis was years in the making.

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  8. Always good food for thought here, Ruth. Thanks...

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  9. It usually comes down to "what do I need?" instead of "what do I want?" doesn't it? Good reminder for me, especially as we move into the Lenten season.

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  10. Very interesting issue. I giggled about the $30 bill at Wal-mart. How often do we do that? I decided that I must go to the store with a list and for the most part I stick to it. It has helped in more ways then one...I tend not to overspend and the list helps me not to forget things. Forgetting items would mean another trip to the store and perhaps more unnecessary spending. Now if I can just remember to throw out the pocket full of lists I have accumulated.

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  11. Cutting the fat makes sense in so many ways. I carry a note in my wallet, "think twice before you buy." I don't do lent, however giving up the fat of greed seems like a great idea. Hope you enjoyed you cookie. Great post.

    BTW, the Darlingtonia are quite harmless, to us anyway. I wouldn't want to be a fly though. LOL

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  12. Well said!
    I like these cookies.
    We begin fast for Easter next Monday on March 2nd. Do you have the same fast with us in Orthodox church?

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  13. I loved this post and what a good challenge to pare down our expenditures for the next six weeks. I was actually trying to think about lent and sacrifice and this is a good way to observe it. Thanks.

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  14. I tend to like to take on a challenge rather than "give something up" and this is more of a challenge to me too Ruth. I think it's a great idea.

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  15. I think a lot of us are being more careful in a lot of ways.

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  16. I do appreciate this thoughtful post, Ruth! Indeed, every small change we make to reduce our carbon footprint does add up!

    Just imagine if everyone in North America found a way to use 1 gallon less gasoline each week!

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  17. Good luck to you Ruth for the next 6 weeks. I think you will be surprised at how well you do. (For an interesting look at this concept, check out Judith Levine's book called "Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping" at your public library, if you haven't read it yet.)
    After cleaning out my closets last year and taking an entire pick-up load of clothes and other household "stuff" I don't use anymore to Goodwill, I realized I can live with a lot less. And learning to buy only what I need has definitely helped me live within my budget (and I actually do still have a little bit to give away to charity).

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  18. Interesting post.-Gone are the days where I go to a store just to browse around for no good reason.-This used to lead to my buying things that didn't really need.

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