Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grass Clippings approach the cost of Weed

Editor’s Note: We try to limit CountryMouse to just a few anti-New York rants per year. It’s hard enough to live here without being constantly reminded of the dirt, pettiness, corruption, trauma, and various indignities that punctuate daily life here in Gotham. In this case though, we determined that since Country’s diatribe is not limited to New York and because there are broader points contained therein, we should run the piece and let the pieces fall where they may. Enjoy.

I stopped by the local health food store yesterday to pick up some vitamin C packets to help nail the coffin lid on my broncitis. I shop at this place because it’s the closest thing to reasonable in the neighborhood. For example Kombucha costs $4 there, which is the prevailing market price in the City, but a dollar less than anywhere else in the hood. Nothing can be described as ‘cheap’ around here anymore—except the quality of the new construction, which is more like ‘shoddy’ anyway.

Well I had paid my $1 for three Emergen-C packets and turned to go. The guy at the juice counter put a tiny (1 oz) paper cup in front of me, with a thick green liquid. Thinking it a free sample, I swigged that little shot down. (My assumption was not unreasonable based on the tiny product size and the fact that there’s usually some kind of crumbled nutrition bar on a little plate at that spot). On my way out, I asked the juice-barista what it was and he told me "wheatgrass."
Not unexpected at a juice bar.

As I reached the door, the store’s only other customer, a thickly-bespectacled hipster from England yelled, "Hey! I just paid for that!"

"How much?"

"Two fifty," replied hipster and cashier in unison. "It’s really good for you, full of antioxidants," added the man whose morning concoction I had inadvertently swiped.

"It had better be at that price," was my grumple (a grumpy rumble).

Of course, it's a fad-inflated supply-demand thing just like the kombucha. Still, its a sign of a dying society that folks pay the rough equivalent of $40/pound for grass clippings and then drink it. Sebastian goes most days without seeing a single blade of grass, apart from what I grow in my flower box to keep the soil conditioned. I can never shake the contrast between that and the amount of time I’ve spent mowing, playing on, and rolling in the green stuff.

I think humanity’s future is an urban one, characterized by much increased density. Yet the human need for green is irrepressible and comes out like, well, grass through cracks in our paved lives and this is a pathetic response to that need.

I’m sorry: I know you may like your wheat grass shots in your custom juice drink and I may have offended you. I myself have written many times in praise of chlorophyll’s nutritional benefits. But a little drop of sunshine on your tongue a few times a week is no substitute for clean air, a sky that you can actually see, and a soft earth to lay on. No wonder everyone around here is in therapy.

But ya know, it doesn't have to be like that...

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