Saturday I rode my bike to City Market. They have a really exciting program, the SNAP program, where people with food stamps get their cards swiped and then get double the amount of tokens to go buy food. Some things are cheap at City Market and some things are more expensive, but it’s worth getting as much as I can carry. Plus it’s great to avoid some of the hidden costs of buying industrial food. In a book called Life, Inc, about how corporations have taken over, the author said that an organic apple shipped across the country does more environmental damage than a conventional apple bought locally. It pointed out that Whole Foods uses huge shipping, warehousing, and distribution systems that are virtually indistinguishable from the way Wal-Mart operates, complete with having to buy from large corporate suppliers in order to fill their needs.
So I bought two pecks of apples and loaded them on the bike. I can load a lot of stuff on the bike. That day I filled the panniers with baked goods and vegetables, then just put the two big bags of apples on top of the rack and tied it down with inner tubes (bungees for bicyclists).
I rode to where my friends were meeting at YJ’s across from the Arts Incubator for the 3:00 Explore the Urban Core bike ride. Pretty often my friends give me flack for carrying lots of stuff on my bike. They especially razzed me about time I slid two three pound iron railroad spikes into my panniers to take home for my 9-year old nieghbor who loves railroads. Then I forgot about the spikes and rode around with them in my bags for two weeks till I finally investigated that odd clunking noise. So I gave all of my friends fresh fall Fuji apples before the ride. If you’ve never had orchard fresh apples, they are incredible. Much better than stored apples. They were so good that my friends kept asking for seconds and thirds on the apples as we got further into our ride.
But the apples were pretty heavy. Two pecks is a lot of apples. We rode our way to Kaw Point on the Riverfront Heritage Trail where we ran into some homeless guys that are my friends. Last week I’d been trading them hot pepper ice cream from Tropicana for beer while they told me about a crocodile that lives in the Kansas River. They’d seen some homeless dogs run over to the river and the dog’s leader ran into the river and started swimming circles and barking around the crocodile. Neither dog nor crocodile got eaten that day. I’m not sure crocodiles can live in our climate but it made a great story along with the ice cream and beer. The hot pepper ice cream was so hot that even the Cuban and the Mexican had to eat it slowly.
So those were the homeless guys I ran into on the bike ride. They asked me where I was going, because they knew I lived fairly close to the bike bridge where they were hanging out. They said, “You ought to leave those apples here and just pick them up when you come home.” The Cuban said, “No one will take them. We’ll just see them and say, ‘Oh, some apples,’ and eat a few of them. But I’ll just take them into my house here and they’ll mostly be right here when you come back.”
So that’s what I did. I just kept about six of the apples with me in my panniers because they were so delicious that my bike friends and I might need them on the rest of our ride. I rode around the rest of the afternoon with my bike friends, rode to the Mexican restaurant, rode to my one friend’s house on Paseo to help him carry stuff, rode to my other friend’s house in Kansas City north for a party, rode to the overlook on Main, and came back after midnight for the apples.
There they were, minus the 1/2 peck that me, my 9 bike friends, and the 3 homeless had eaten all in one day because they were so delicious.
That’s how we improve our economy – by building local, sustainable livable communities, then just living out enjoyable lives and talking to one another, and making friends with everyone around.