I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages. AGES. Ever since I announced my partnership with Tom’s Of Maine back in May and was met with a lot of excitement . . . but also some concern. Which didn’t surprise me in the least! I wrote to the company right away, and since I believe in transparency, I’ll just show you the exact email I sent to my contact at Tom’s that day:
So I announced my partnership with Tom’s on my blog yesterday, and was met *mostly* with support. My readers are incredibly intelligent and fiercely independent, which is why I love them so much. So naturally, they have questions and concerns about the company (I can’t imagine a situation where they wouldn’t, since we are a “question everything” kind of crew) and I just wanted to check in with you before I engage in a dialogue.
My readers are mostly concerned with Tom’s being owned by a parent company, Colgate. I feel very strongly that smaller, natural branches of larger parent companies should still be supported – for all sorts of important reasons. I would like to speak freely about this with my readers, to share my perspective on why I think it’s so crucial to support companies like Tom’s, despite their larger parent company.
Are you okay with me speaking freely about this?
Back on the day I announced the partnership here on the blog, I joked about how my big mouth was going to get my butt sued. So yes, I definitely wanted to run things by the folks at Tom’s and make sure I wasn’t going to breach my contract by speaking out about this.
And of course, they said yes, fine, no worries. Speak freely! I set up a conference call with another contact at Tom’s, so that I could learn about the history of the company, the details of the sale to Colgate (and why that decision was made – it was intentional, by the way!), and how it’s affected the company since. But scheduling meant our conference call had to wait a week, and then right after that I was administering midterms, and the week after that I was grading those midterms, and then a psychotic misogynist gunned down 6 students at my University and everything went into crisis mode for a few weeks. And then finals.
So this post, which I wanted to write when I could give it my full energy and attention, was pushed to the back burner. Until now! And now I want to talk about how Tom’s is owned by Colgate, and how I’m [mostly] totally okay with that.
To be clear, these are just my own thoughts on the issue; my own personal perspective. Your mileage may vary. And I’d love to hear your own thoughts down below, and as always I encourage discourse as long as it remains respectful. Yes? Onwards!
So let’s begin by talking in a big picture, abstract, non-Tom’s-specific sort of way. In the most general sense, I support the idea of small eco-conscious companies growing bigger for one simple reason: wider reach. If I believe in a company and what it’s doing, then why wouldn’t I want it to grow? Why wouldn’t I want more people to gain access to the products? I think (I hope? Or is this like when your favorite indie band gets radio play and suddenly you’re too cool to listen to them?) we can all agree on this. I hope.
The problem with small companies growing larger comes when those companies suddenly become lax around the ethical standards that drew us in to begin with. More business might mean larger manufacturing facilities, maybe outsourcing production overseas, maybe re-sourcing ingredients from less-than-stellar vendors, and on. Many eco-conscious companies start out small and wholesome, then begin to grow, and start cutting corners to support their growth. That’s green washing, and it’s a big problem for conscientious consumers.
But luckily, that’s just not an issue here. Because Tom’s is green, through and through. This is a company as green as any company I could possibly imagine. That hasn’t changed as they’ve grown, and it didn’t change one single bit when ownership was transferred. So yeah, you can call them out for putting beeswax in their dental floss (so unnecessary, why??!) or you can complain about them relying too heavily on SLS (and go ahead and tell them about it too – they really listen), but man, you can’t claim that they’re not on the absolute cutting edge of environmental stewardship in sustainable manufacturing. You just can’t.
Seriously, I encourage you to visit the website and learn about what they’re doing in terms of environmentally-friendly production practices, because it’s really sort of revolutionary. Read the Goodness Report. It’s incredibly thorough, and damn impressive. Read about what it’s like to work at Tom’s. Tell me you don’t want to work at a place like that! And then check out their Stewardship Model. Okay, now show me another major corporation that’s living up to that standard.
Guys, this is NOT green washing. This is actually a really, really good company. And I hope it goes without saying that I wouldn’t have decided to partner with them if they weren’t.
And look, I know the company’s not without its flaws. I’ll be the first to admit that – and I don’t have any problem saying so! Hey Tom’s, why you gotta put bee-derived additives in products labeled “free of animal ingredients”? That doesn’t fly with the vegans, dudes!
I can support the company, and admire them, *and* want them to do better. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Back to the Colgate thing. My question was, why did Tom and Linda sell their super-hippie company to Colgate in the first place?
Well apparently, it wasn’t an accident. It was a calculated decision. A choice. Because they knew that Tom’s would remain unchanged (as stipulated in the terms of the sale), while also reaching millions more people. Essentially, they wanted Colgate for its distribution. So that now, because Tom’s is attached to Colgate, Tom’s can be distributed wherever Colgate is distributed. And I love that. That was my original point! I love that everywhere, all over the country in grocery stores and Wal*Marts, from the inner city to the rural middle-of-nowhere, people from all walks of life and in every situation can choose a natural, cruelty free, and healthier product for their family. I believe that everyone deserves to be able to make that choice.
Listen. Here is my own truth: I may dream of an ideal future, but I am not an idealist. I’m actually a realist, maybe even a radical realist (just ask the vegans who want me to shut up already about all those EX-vegans), so I prefer to see a situation for what it really is, here and now.
And what that means is, I know it would be wonderful if we could all be making our own body care products at home out of coconut oil and baking soda and other simple ingredients. I encourage anyone who has the time and energy to do that, to do that! But not everyone has that kind of time. And for people like that, I’m so glad that they have access to a healthier product like Tom’s.
In my ideal world, we might also all support independent, local artisans. That would be amazing, and for those who can afford it, I encourage you to do so. But again, not everyone has that kind of disposable income.
I am not willing to ignore the financial or lifestyle limitations that millions of Americans face. To do so would be to erase them from our conversations about what it means to be a vegan or an environmentalist.
Clearly, I’m talking far beyond toothpaste. This brings up much larger issues involving social justice, equality, and perhaps the sort of realistic expectations that I believe our compassionate and eco-conscious community would do well to consider, if we truly want to make progressive change.
Not everyone has the means to meet the ideal. For people in that position (a position I was in less than a year ago, and which I am still working my way out of), I am so glad that Tom’s provides a natural choice that’s accessible to everyone.
So yes, that is why I think it’s important to support small sustainable subsidiaries of larger, big-mean-nasty parent corporations. Because they allow greater access to natural products for people who would not otherwise be exposed to such things, and also because every time you choose Tom’s over Colgate, it sends the parent corporation a very important message about the direction they may want to take Colgate itself in the future.
I know what the other side says – that the money trickles up, that buying Tom’s will ultimately line the pockets of Colgate. And I understand that, I do. It’s just that . . . I don’t necessarily find that to be a productive way of thinking.
In the same way that I shop at grocery stores that sell animal products, even though I’m opposed to eating animals, and even my little super-hippie Co Op in Portland sold eggs and dairy, and some of my very favorite restaurants that make an awesome vegan meal also serve up dead flesh, and I’ll support the delicious sorbet at my local creamery, even though their main focus is un-vegan gelato, and do you see where I’m going with this? This is my point about ideal versus reality. If you shop at a grocery store or a restaurant or any other place that sells items in conflict with your ethics, then you’re really no different than people who buy from green companies owned by a parent corporation. Which is not to say “Nyah Nyah, GOTCHYA!”, but is instead meant to illustrate that it’s all of us. We are all doing it. We all draw our lines in the sand, wherever we feel comfortable and in whatever way our own unique circumstances allow. But ultimately, our lines may not be as different as we prefer to imagine they are.
Personally, I’d rather see people give money to a company that reserves 10% of net profits to donate to charity, a company that’s busy thinking about how to reduce water waste and increase energy efficiency on the production line, a company that’s got an entire team of people thinking about the littlest things, like where they’re sourcing the glue that holds their packaging together, and how maybe they can switch from a petroleum-based binder to a vegetable-based one (seriously, this is what they’re currently doing). That makes me happy. I think it’s a good thing, and something I very much want to support.
But . . . that’s not my point. My point in writing this was not to try and convince you to purchase Tom’s. Not at all. In fact, like I said – if you have the time to make your own personal care products, I think you should. Or if you have the means to buy the small-batch local stuff, I think you should do that as well. I think that you should do whatever makes you feel best, within the constraints of your own actual reality.
My point, I guess, is that I don’t believe this to be as black and white as it’s so often presented. There are larger issues at play here. And I don’t know that it makes sense to blindly or blithely write off entire branches of the eco-friendly marketplace. I do think, however, that in order to be intellectually honest, we need to have a more nuanced conversation.
But that’s just me, your resident radical realist. Like I said above, your mileage may vary.
♥ ♥ ♥
Hello, happy Friday! So firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who left a sweet or supportive note on last week’s “Pictures Of Things” post. I was having a rough time, and your words of kindness mean more to me than you know. Thank you so much for that.
This week, things are looking up. And this week I’ve tried to be especially mindful of all the treats and treasures around me, all the time. Which is sort of the point of these posts, and one of the reasons I’m enjoying this new series here on the blog. Because it forces me to pay attention to the world around me. Constantly. Looking for pretty pictures to capture, well, it keeps me very present!
And now, one of the easiest things that we can ALL do to make the world a little bit of a better place: Le Love List!
Deep cleaning my kitchen. Scouring the inside of my fridge. Ahhhhh. // My dahlias (hybrid, grown from seed instead of bulb) are finally beginning to bloom. I’ve been waiting for them! // Sex-positive people. Listening to the Savage Love podcast non-stop (FYI, that is graphic and explicit, NSFW, NSFkids) while I clean and putter around my house. // That incredible impromptu dinner picnic + magical soak in the natural hot springs, with my two very most favorite humans (as pictured up there ^^^). That was a really good one. // Every few months I’m surprised by a bit of money arriving in the mail. I’m surprised every. single. time. And I get to go “Oh yeah, I wrote a book and people actually buy it!” Good feeling. // Fermenting ALL THE THINGS. // And oh yeah, label makers are pretty neat-o. // Breaking 2000 followers on Instagram. It’s my favorite social media platform by far, and man do I suck at social media! Oi. But truly, I love Instagram and would love it if you joined me there. // Having dinner with my godparents and their children, and my child, and their children’s partners, all of us together is so rare and SO precious. // Last week I was gutted over a smoking engine and expensive, unexpected car repairs. And today, on his day off, all day, Jeremy was working under my car, doing things I don’t quite understand. And he somehow saved me over $600. And . . . I just . . . I don’t . . . HE is at the top of my gratitude list this week. This week and every other, I am so thankful for the winding path that led me to Jeremy. ♥ ♥ ♥
Alright guys, now it’s your turn! I hope you’ll leave your own little Love List in the comments below, and let us all know what’s making you smile these days.
I remember, very clearly, sitting in a cafe in New York City. February 2013. I was in town for Main Street Vegan Academy, fresh off a redeye with nearly zero sleep, hollow-eyed exhausted and so happy to be right there exactly where I was. Amped on adrenaline, espresso, and green juice, I fell into an easy rapport with my dining companion. We were playing catch-up – life, the universe, and everything – when Gena looked across the table at me and kind of smiled this secretive half smile, and confided: “So I sort of signed this book deal.”
I squealed of course (I blame the redeye) because Gena, and her blog Choosing Raw, are two of my favorite forces in the vegan community. We talked a bit about what she was hoping to do with the book, as we finished our brunch that day. And we talked about the project some more when we caught up with each other again a few months later, at Vida Vegan Con. But Gena waited a long time to announce it on her blog, and many many months went by, and I have to admit . . . I kind of forgot about it!
That is, until I got an email a few weeks ago, announcing the release.
You guys. I’m not going to lie: this book is fucking AMAZING. I know, I know. She’s my friend and you think I have to say that. But seriously, this book is A – MAZ – ING.
It brings together everything I love about Gena and the work she does over at Choosing Raw. It’s smart and sensible and thorough and thoughtful and practical and did I mention smart? And it’s gorgeous, full of vibrant photography (thank you to the incomparable Hannah Kaminsky for that). And it’s more than just a cookbook. Gena is a certified clinical nutritionist, and operating on many years of personal experience in the vegan and raw communities. Which is why the first 95 pages of the book are devoted to words and words alone – advice, nutritional information, raw food FAQs, health myths and misconceptions (my favorite part, everything from protein to soy, oil to supplements, and so much more), and a complete 21-day meal plan. For reals, this book isn’t messing around. It WILL become my standard new-to-vegan/new-to-raw recommendation.
But okay, enough of my gushing. You want to see the food, right?? Well, last weekend Jeremy and I spent an entire day eating directly from these pages, and taking many pictures along the way. Here’s what that day looked like:
Oh hello! Good morning!
Jeremy and I enjoyed our lazy morning coffee in the back yard, flipping through the pages of the cookbook, deciding exactly what deliciousness we’d be [un]cooking up that day. Not a bad way to start the morning, I’d say.
It was, in a word, divine (but I’m sure you can tell that just by looking at it!)
This was one of those weekend days that drifted along. No plans except to putter about the house, which is exactly what we did. I was in my pajamas until well after noon. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon cleaning my kitchen from top to bottom – and I mean *really* cleaning. Like, polishing up the cabinet faces, on hands and knees at the baseboard lip, taking everything off the shelves, that kind of cleaning. It felt great but unfortunately, that sort of day doesn’t make for many pictures.
Jeremy ventured out for a haircut, and to pick up a few odd ingredients at the market. And when he returned, it was lunch time. Creamy Basil and Ginger Noodles.
I must admit, I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe. For one, I have a love-hate relationship with kelp noodles that often leans more towards the “hate” side of things . . . but then, I had multiple bags of them just sitting there, taking up prime real estate in my fridge. And two, my brain has trouble putting “basil” and “ginger” together in a sauce.
However, I trust Gena, and so this strange flavor profile definitely intrigued me. Thus, Creamy Basil and Ginger Noodles it was.
These were so good! I sun-dried the kelp noodles after soaking them in a solution of water, salt, and apple cider vinegar (lemon juice works as well) to try and loosen them up. If you’ve never eaten kelp noodles before, they have this strange sort of “popping” texture which can be a bit off-putting (on the other hand Waits loves them, but then again he’s uncannily attracted to foods which have almost no calories, oof, so that makes sense). But after laying them out to dry in the sun (half an hour or so), I was beyond thrilled with how they turned out. For the first time ever, they were wonderfully relaxed and delightfully non-”poppy”. And of course the sauce turned out to be delicious and Jeremy and I devoured the entire batch.
Oh also, I’m me so I added white beans because PROTEIN.
Right after lunch I whipped up the dressing that we were going to eat with dinner, and if you think I’ve been raving too much already, then I’m sorry but it’s about to get worse. Much worse.
You guys. This dressing!
This dressing tastes like summer. Like tangy summer! Herby and savory and amazing with umami but also that lightness and freshness of flavorful herbs. We had it for dinner that night and I literally woke up craving it the next day. So do you know what I did? I ate salad for breakfast. And then I ate salad for lunch. And then I ate salad for dinner I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING THREE MEALS STRAIGHT.
This is my new favorite dressing, which is why I made a double batch of it again just today. And why I begged Gena to share the recipe with all of you! And you lucky ducks – she obliged:
Green Herb Dressing
Makes 1 1/4 Cups Dressing
1 cup packed fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup fresh dill
1⁄2 cup packed fresh basil
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄2 teaspoon Herbamare (a very delicious and healthy seasoned salt and herb mix) or sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 green onion, green part only, chopped
Blend all the ingredients, along with 1⁄2 cup of water, in a blender until smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Dressing will keep for 5 days.
I spent the afternoon and evening back and forth between kitchen and yard, tending to whatever needed tending. It was such a lovely day, lazy but always in motion, working while also relaxing. A podcast to keep me company, and easy, steady housework.
And then finally, it was dinnertime! All said and done, we had a butterleaf and tomato salad with the Green Herb Dressing, and Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls, paired with our favorite Spanish Rioja.
But we weren’t done yet! For dessert I’d made the Raw Key Lime Pie.
Jeremy said this was the best dessert – okay maybe the best thing – I’ve ever made. And since then it’s been approved by both wee Waits Rebhal, and Jeremy’s roommate.
This is good pie.
And thus concludes our day of eats, and this cookbook review. I do hope you’ve enjoyed both, and I hope you’ll check out Gena’s book, Choosing Raw. And if you’re not already doing so, for goodness sake go read her blog!
♥ ♥ ♥
I’ve always promised to keep this blog authentic. To share the bad as well as the good, the sad as well as the happy, and everything in between.
So. This week.
This week was hard (hence no primary post). And let me count the ways: on Tuesday morning I dropped Waits off at school only to notice that my engine was smoking. Like, a LOT. My car needs major repairs. Also, this week I found out that my house, my little tiny cottage that I love with all my heart, has been sold. I don’t know what that will mean for my residency here, but I’m feeling pretty heartbroken about it. And also, this week I had to make a very difficult decision regarding my path in graduate school. The new path is better, but I had to let down someone who’s done a lot for me, and that hurt (it was also empowering, something I don’t think I’d have been strong enough to do even a year ago, and a testament to my personal growth . . . but still, of course, very hard). So yes, it was an emotional week, and all that on top of life’s ever-revolving parade of small stumbling blocks.
And now, since I started this post with a big ‘ol grumpy grumble, how about a quick little gratitude adjustment: Le Love List!
Picking my very first homegrown tomato of the year. It tasted like pure unadulterated summer! I ate it on toast. // Filming a video with Waits all about raising, and being, vegan kiddos! I can’t wait to share this – coming soon from Eco-Vegan Gal. // Therapy. I wish it for everyone. I believe it should be offered for free by the government, for reals. Just think of the jobs it would create! // Spending quality time with my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. You don’t [have to] divorce your family. ♥ // Raw food recipes for summer. // Planning a massive road trip/camping extravaganza with Jeremy and Waits. It’s going to be so fun! And of course, I plan to blog all about vegan camping. // Fresh herbs in everything. // Growing. Feeling myself grow. Knowing it. That’s just so good!
Alright guys, now it’s your turn! I hope you’ll leave your own little Love List in the comments below, and let us all know what’s making you smile these days.
I hope you all had a happy happy weekend!
I have this weird compulsion with this blog, this self-imposed requirement that says everything I post has to be “valuable content”. Recipes, instructionals, that sort of stuff.
But when I read other blogs, do you know what I love?
Pretty pictures of everyday life. “Bits and Pieces”, “Life Lately” – those types of posts are what I love to look at in my rare and precious downtime. And so, here and now, I’m giving it a shot. It’s a big step for me! And since I cannot silence that little voice in the back of my mind hollering about creating value, I will leave you with a Love List and ask that you please leave me with yours. Because there’s nothing more valuable than shared gratitude. Yes?
Okay. Here we go! Oh also, if this becomes a regular thing on the blog (and please let me know if you’d like it to — or if not!), it’ll need a nifty name. I’m open to suggestions.
And now, the best way to kick off the weekend, I’ll show you mine if you please show me yours . . . Le Love List!
Fireworks! Can’t help it, I love them. // My video interview with Eco-Vegan Gal all about raising vegan children, preventing ex-vegans, and all sorts of other good stuff. It was so much fun and Whitney is amazing – I hope you had a chance to check it out! // Growing starts from seed. A million little sprouts. I love my garden. // I’m watching Reality Bites right now, it is one of the formative films of my youth, and it is fan-tastic. // The ocean is warmer than it’s been in years. I don’t know what’s going on or why, but I’ll take it! // I wrote my very first grant proposal. Like a wee baby bird, my advisor pushed me out of the nest with one firm shove, and I was flying solo, flapping madly for a few crazy days. But I got myself centered, buckled down, and got it done. And . . . I think it actually turned out pretty dang good! Either way I was proud, but please cross your fingers for us to get the grant and fund our work this summer. // Giant salads. Always. // Partnering with Vegan Cuts to curate a Vegan Family Starter Kit! That was a really fun one. // Bad tv marathons that just don’t stop. // Waits’s bedroom is really coming together, I can’t wait to show you all the whole giant makeover! // Inspired vegans who never fail to inspire. // Summer. Summer. Summer is heeeeeeere!
Alright guys, now it’s your turn! I hope you’ll leave your own little Love List in the comments below, and let us all know what’s making you smile these days. And, if you have any thoughts on these picture posts, let me know. Either way I want to hear. I promise!
Happy weekend, and American readers, have a safe 4th of July!
♥ ♥ ♥