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Thanks to,, and similar web sites, I have been changing my buying habits over the past year.  I'll reflect on changes I have made.  I'm open to suggestions on other changes I need to make.

Some of the changes as a result of things I have learned include:
  1.  I avoid Wal-Mart at ALL costs.  This is THE one business establishment that progressives need to AVOID like Rush Lamebaugh due to its sheer scope and power.  Even other Republican companies look like organic hippie-owned businesses when compared to Wal-Mart.  Seeing the Wal-Mart movie made me want to not only avoid shopping at Wal-Mart but being anywhere near one due to the stench of corporate corruption and exploitation.  Hy-Vee probably isn't perfect and definitely charges more than Wal-Mart, but Hy-Vee has no power outside Iowa and has maintained political neutrality according to
  2.  I avoid Home Depot unless what I'm looking for is unavailable elsewhere.  I've only had to go to Home Depot for certain screws and bolts I couldn't find at Menards or Ace Hardware.
  3.  I seldom buy at Target.
  4.  I've begun doing more shopping at farmer's markets.  Unfortunately, I live in Iowa, so the season is only May-October.
  5.  I opened a new credit card from my local credit union as a replacement from my old MBNA credit card.  I'm about to cancel the MBNA credit card.  Yes, I know about DemCard, but I'm not eligible because I live in Iowa.
  6.  I stopped eating at Kentucky Fried Cholesterol because charges that the chain tortures chickens left a bad taste in my mouth.
  7.  I've avoided McDonald's ever since I saw the movie Supersize Me.  It's a great diet movie, because it will give you an aversion to fattening food.  Even after you recover the fat cravings, you'll still find starving more appealing than the Golden Arches.  Ba-da-ba-ba-ba- I'm hatin' it!
  8.  The common theme seems to be that one should avoid the biggest chains.  Let's face it - is difficult to navigate.  The overall pattern seems to be that major chains are the most likely to be prolific contributors to Republicans.  So I avoid not only McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Cholesterol but Pizza Hut as well.  In fact, you should avoid any chain that you see everywhere here in the USA.  An even redder flag is the chain's presence overseas as well.
  9.  As a result of reading the book Fast Food Nation, I avoid the Subway chain.  Subway treats its franchisees worse than any other chain and is known for opening new Subway restaurants near existing ones.  The corporate executives benefit from the increased overall sales, but the individual Subway franchisee suffers from the increased competition.
  10.  If you are in California and have to eat fast food, eat at In-N-Out Burger.  The beef is well-screened, employees are treated well, and no nasty artificial chemicals are added to the food as is the case at the Golden Arches.

SIDE NOTE: Kossacks who smoke have yet another reason to quit, as if the prospect of spending the rest of your life paying good money for something that clearly degrades and shortens it wasn't enough.  The tobacco industry heavily donates money not only to Republicans but the RELIGIOUS RIGHT as well.  That's right, your tobacco addiction subsidizes people and groups who insist that allowing gay marriage and teaching evolution in schools are crimes against humanity but selling cancer sticks and marketing them to children is honest business.

I know I'm not perfect.  Some areas where I have room to improve are:

  1.  Clothing: Where should I shop for clothes instead of K-Mart, Target, the Gap, and Old Navy?  One problem I have is my physical size - I am 6 feet tall and weigh a whopping 140 pounds in a world where clothing designers expect me to weigh at least 200.  This makes it hard to shop for pants and belts.
  2.  Meat: Are there alternatives to Tysons, IBF, etc.?  I read in the book Fast Food Nation about the EXTREMELY dangerous and unsanitary conditions in meatpacking facilities as well as the exploitation of individual farmers/ranchers/meatpackers/etc. by these corporations.  I've largely avoided ground beef products since Mad Cow was found in beef in this country.  Buying fresh meat and cooking it helps me to boycott evil makers of prepared food, but it still doesn't cut out the evil meat processors.  No, I'm not giving up meat.  (I'd have to weigh well over 200 pounds to be desperate enough to try that.  In that case, I would start by watching the remake of the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  That movie gave me an aversion to red meat for 3 days!)

Originally posted to jhsu on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 07:47 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (4.00)
    4's would be appreciated.  Of course, if you think I'm all wet, you can rate me accordingly.
    •  buying blue (4.00)
      while it may be hard to find in suburbia  or the city, rural folks are familiar with cooperatives, of which a credit union is just one example.

      Clothingwise, you might consider getting a few things made to order by a local seamstress. Such people do exist, if you look.  You get excellent quality, made to fit your wierd shape. Take care of these and they last forever, and you are supporting a local person. Learn to live with fewer but better articles of clothing and make them last. Probably costs no more in the long run. Lots of crafty people like that do local crafts fairs.

      -8.0, -7.03 don't always believe what you think...

      by claude on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:10:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  On meat. (4.00)
    I can't believe that somewhere not too far from you there isn't a small farm that raises and sells its own beef. We certainly have them around here. Check a farm supply store - the noteboard, usually by the door - or your local paper.
  •  A few things... (4.00)
    1. Well done on changing your habits!! It is really hard to do!!

    2. As for your meat questions....since you live in Iowa you may be able to find someone that runs an organic farm and you could buy your meats from them. Another thing you could do is (and I'm not trying to be the pushy vegetarian here) try some of the soy alternatives. I'm a vegetarian, but my boyfriend is very much a meat-eater. We've been eating the Morningstar Farms stuff for a while now and I can really highly recommend it. The fake Buffalo Wings are awesome, as are the Chik Nuggets and the Chik patties, and the veggie burgers and hotdogs are great too. The only stuff John doesn't really like from them is the breakfast stuff (the fake bacon and sausage, but he does like other soysauge). I'm not suggesting you should give up meat entirely, I'm just saying that there are some alternatives out there and that Morningstar Farms seems to be a pretty good corp, AND that maybe switching from meat to just one meat alternative for one or two meals a week may help:)

    3. I'm with you on the clothes thing...Patagonia is a great company and some of their clothes are good for things other than hiking, camping, etc.
  •  For clothes, try Roots USA (none)
    Roots USA main site

    I've bought Roots' clothes in Vancouver before they opened up a division in the States. They're comfortable, well-made, and durable--and this Canadian-based clothing manufacturer is socially responsible as well as ethical in its treatment of employees and suppliers.

    I realize their '06 Olympics logo clothing is going to be sold at Target; but other than that affiliation, I don't know if they tend to support one party or the other. Re: their attitudes toward human rights and high standards of working conditions, however, they're probably one of the more respectable vendors out there for everyday/activewear types of clothing.

  •  Farmer Markets (4.00)
    typical season is May-October or even November; which is the season for the local Farmer Market here.  Another option: co-ops and Costco.  

    I haven't touched a fast "crap" joint (Subway, McD, etc.) since...oh....1985?  I've never been big on that crap anyhow and could never understand why they keep being referred to as "fast food" since they don't have food.

    Ah well, just call very particular about what I put into my body, but I've always thought people should believe they deserve better.  And if people did, these places would go out of business.  Pretty simple way of thinking, I know.  But it's how I think.  Another thing:  don't eat at chain restaurants.  Living in Portland (Oregon) does that to you.  There's so many good restaurants/cafes around there's no need to to some chain.  Thank god.  Same here in Corvallis.

    Another thing is movie choices.  We see more of our movies at locally owned theaters; no Regal or Carmike for us.  There's a big Carmike here and well, it sucks.  SUCKS.  Oh thank the movie heavens for the small guys.

    One last thing:  all you need to really know about "progressive shopping" is to BUY LOCAL.  Or check out is another terrific site to gauge a company's record.

    "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."- "V" in "V for Vendetta

    IMPEACH Bush

    by smugbug on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:12:35 PM PST

    •  Ooops (none)
      just recalled the diarist here mentioned that is too confusing.  Okay.  Noted.  Just check out - you'll be happy.

      "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."- "V" in "V for Vendetta

      IMPEACH Bush

      by smugbug on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:16:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  hi jshu... (none)
    "The common theme seems to be that one should avoid the biggest chains.  Let's face it - is difficult to navigate."

    Care to offer some commentary?  I'm one of the folks who worked on the site and would be greatly interested to hear your ideas/problems.

    •  My gripe (none)
      I wish there were the option of displaying everything on one big page.  For example, at the alphabetical directory page, there are 10 pages to scroll through.  Can't you provide a way to display ALL of them on just one page?  (Yes, I know that some people have slow connections.  That's why I'm suggesting that you offer a "display all" OPTION.)
  •  More from the frugal front (4.00)
    We live very cheaply.
    We don't buy alot of "health care" products. We buy soap.

    • IF you DO smoke, roll your own. We get a full pound of tobacco (2000 cigs?) for $16. It doesn't have the additives of regular "fitered" cigs. Once you get used to a full rolled smoke, you will never desire a "store bought" one. (of course I'm not a smoking advocate, but for those of us who do)Don't pay for the cig company marketing and additives by buying brand name and filter/taylor mades.

    • We don't have or watch TV - We do that online and download what we want. We are close to dropping our phone line and going entirely on cell and VOIP for regular phone calls. Cancel your cable TV.

    • We scrap metal and alluminum - all metals. Don't laugh. Filling up a 5 gallon bucket with brass, copper and aluminum peices adds up. Add that to a pick up truck of old appliances to haul, and you've got a few bucks.

    • We cook

    • Buy Scotts or similiar toilet paper, one roll lasts as long as a pack of the cheaper "soft or fluffy" brand.

    • Don't buy shave cream, use a soap cup.

    • Make your own beer and wine and grow your own weed. (only if you can get away with it that is.)

    • Grow food and herbs. Individual Americans grow less food then ever. Grow your own spices in the window. Tomatoes. During WWII they were called "Victory Gardens" and were a patriotic duty.

    • make a soap ball of all your soap slivers. (a frugal man's delight)

    • Don't buy anything. Just don't do it.

    • Just say NO to credit.

    • Live free or die.
    •  My favorite TP (none)
      is not scott's but Shit-Be-Gone.  Union friendly, recycled, and the web page has instructions for better use.  Yes, there is a technique for preventing rawness.

      I will never disappear. I will always work for peace. Cindy Sheehan

      by Cather on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:06:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How do you make a soap ball ? (none)
      I've always wanted to do something with the slivers besides saving them in little plastic bags.
      •  You're on your way (none)
        skip the baggie - as they become slivers. Rinse them off - while in the bath or shower, smoosh them into a ball and set aside. You can shape them into a deer or bear. I like to make a nice round sphere. That's it.

        Does this sound gross> What is cleaner then soap?

        What did our grandparents do with soap and fascism?

        - Fascists eventually make soap out of people. Progressives make soap slivers while they can.

        •  Thanks. After asking you (none)
          I remembered Google and found some links to soap balls, but I like your directions better - no grating the little slivers on a vegetable grater, for example.
        •  Here's a better idea. (none)
               After the first use of the new bar of soap, wet the sliver, and rub it into the new bar of soap.

               Allow it to dry before next use.

               That melds the old sliver to the new bar of soap, creating a single and slightly larger bar of soap.

               For best results, meld the sliver to the side of the new bar that has the soap name. (The increased surface area improves adhesion.)

               Easiest way to to use soap slivers I've seen...

    •  Big Tobacco vs. Small Tobacco (none)
      As I posted somewhere else around here recently:  There's Big Tobacco, and there's Small Tobacco and there's a world of difference between the two.  

      Small Tobacco in the US is mostly pipe tobacco: made by small companies, many of which have ten or fewer employees.  For cigarettes, Small Tobacco is mostly the roll-it-yourself kind that comes in a pouch with a pack of rolling papers.  

      By analogy, if Big Tobacco is on the scale of Budweiser, Small Tobacco is on the scale of micro-breweries.  

      Politically, the problem is exactly the same as with other types of business:  Big Business is generally corrupt and supports the badguys, small business is generally more ethical and more progressive.  Think of the difference between WalMart and your smaller locally-owned grocery or hardware store.  Small Tobacco is politically diverse, with the common ground of dislike for "government in the bedroom."

      The only Surgeon General's report that broke out different categories of smoking, i.e. pipes, cigars, cigarettes, showed that while there is a huge health risk for cigarettes, the health risk for people who smoke only pipes and/or cigars is minimal: in fact pipe smokers live slightly longer than non-smokers.  This would seem like a paradox, but keep in mind that at one time all alcohol consumption was considered a health risk but today we know that moderate consumption i.e. one or two drinks a day is for most people harmless or slightly beneficial.  
      People who smoke pipes or roll their own cigarettes smoke a lot less than people who smoke pre-packaged cigarettes.  This by itself also reduces health risks.  Pipe tobacco is puffed rather than inhaled, so the uptake of nicotine is less.  Pipe smoking tends to be identified with two demographic groups: university students, and people over age 30; so there's less risk of teenagers picking it up.  

      Anti-smoking crusades are a form of moral zealotry that's not much different from the anti-sex crusades of the extreme right, and will alienate people such as myself who believe in keeping government out of individuals' private lives.  

      The approach we should take is something like:  "Dump Big Tobacco: if you want to smoke, smoke a pipe or roll your own."

      •  Correction (none)

        Anti-smoking crusades are a form of moral zealotry that's not much different from the anti-sex crusades of the extreme right...

        Not true. Smoking will give you cancer, heart disease, lung disease, etc.

        Safe sex with a monogamous partner should not cause anything more than a pregnancy in the worst case. (safe sex includes both partners getting tested in advance).

        will alienate people such as myself who believe in keeping government out of individuals' private lives.  

        This is true. People don't want to be forced to do what's good for them... even if it's good for them.

        But, what about the cost of the healthcare for smokers? Healthcare is expensive. Part of this cost includes taking care of smokers and ex-smokers, and that raises EVERYONE's premiums. Why should I, a non-smoker, have to pay increased premiums because you smoked? When it comes to healthcare, it's not YOUR individual private life because I end up paying for it. The same would be true of tax dollars that go to medicare/medicaid for smokers. In reality, if you smoke, I (partially) pay for it in terms of increased healthcare costs!

        Now, back to individualism. What about those of us that don't smoke? On the one hand, I should respect your rights as an individual to smoke. On the other hand, by lighting up in my presence, you are DISRESPECTING my desire to NOT breathe your smoke. The whole individualism thing falls apart, because smokers who smoke outside of their own homes cannot keep the smoke to themselves. In short, ONE of our individualisms will lose in this situation. Your second hand smoke harms me more than my desire not to breathe your smoke harms you.

        (yes, I'm from Cali.)

        •  correcting your "corrections" (none)
          "Smoking will give you (list of diseases)..."   If you're so certain you can predict the future, how'bout sending me next week's lottery numbers?   As it stands, your statement is false because it makes an unprovable prediction.  The truth is that smoking increases the probability of certain illnesses in a population, but that is not the same thing.  You take your choice and you take your chances.  I smoke a pipe, enjoy it greatly, and have no intention of quitting.  Go look up the Surgeon General's report where they break out pipe smoking as a separate category and show it's basically harmless.  

          Sex with monogamous partner:  OK, so now you want to legislate monogamy?  I happen to favor monogamy too, but I'll fight like hell for the right of consenting adults to run their own sex lives however they choose, as long as they don't defraud others by misrepresenting their STD status.  

          Health care costs: also false.  Smokers pay high taxes on tobacco, including pipe tobacco and cigars, for which the health impact is near zero.  Smokers pay more for health insurance.  If you want to talk about subsidies that are killing us, let's start with all the subsidies to automobiles and highways, which are causing global climate change as well as local pollution.    

          Ambient smoke:  Where did I assert a right to light up where it's going to annoy someone?  I didn't, you made it up.  Common courtesy says don't smoke where it will bother someone else.  If you want to live in a place with "courtesy laws," move to Singapore, but be careful not to chew gum in public or you might get a few lashes with the whip.  

          As for "outside their homes," are you really asserting that people shouldn't be able to make smoke when they're outdoors?   Last time I checked, automobile exhaust, not tobacco, was the leading cause of urban air pollution.  I'll stop making pipe smoke if you stop making automobile smoke, and no backyard barbeques either.    What's good for the goose is good for the gander, no excuses.

          What I've seen is that many zealous puritans are people who are fighting their own cognitive dissonance.  They secretly want to do whatever-it-is, but they can't admit it, so they go on a crusade in order to suppress the urge.  They can't tolerate the idea that others openly enjoy something that they can't even admit they want to do.  Think of all the adulterous anti-sex zealots.  It's almost understandable if someone quits smoking (or gives up having sex with the neighbors' spouses) and then gets all self-righteous, but it's still not acceptable to turn self-righteousness into law.  

          The rest of the zealous puritans are people who really do find whatever-it-is to be gross & icky (rather than secretly seductive), and then get all arrogant and insist on imposing their own preferences on others.  Hey, I think it's gross when people eat crabs: giant spiders, eww, they may as well be eating tarantulas!  I can say "eating crab grosses me out, but you can eat it if you like it."   But far be it for me to go ranting about it much less trying to legislate what you can & can't put in your mouth.

          Much preferable to live and let live.  What's so hard about that, eh?

      •  Started rolling my own... (none)
        ... cigs about 3 years ago.  I smoke about half as many cigs as I used to and a 6 oz tin of tobacco ($11) lasts me a month.
        I agree wholeheartedly about the difference between big tobacco and little tobacco.
        I began smoking packs of Marlboros in my late teens and smoked them for about 6 years before I found out about Philip Morris and their Union busting practices (not to mention their place in the corrupt republican money machine).  I then moved to smoking Camels and I smoked them for a few years, mostly while I was in college.  I moved to rolling my own now, American Spirits.  A good brand and a good company.  And contrary to what one may think, a hand-rolled cigarette is a much better smoke IMHO than a machine rolled one.  I'm not advocating smoking, but if you smoke, try it!
        •  sure, go ahead and advocate... (none)

          The antismoking zealots feel they can go around and advocate, so why shouldn't we?   Goose, gander, and all that.   So...

          Few things in life are quite as enjoyable as a good pipe.  Pure sensory gratification, contemplative and relaxing, minimal health risk, and minimal cost.  One of life's great pleasures.   Even if you've never smoked anything before, you really ought to try it.  

  •  As to meat,.. (4.00)
    ...we have a chain of organic food stores by us(Mrs.Green's) that carries it, as well as organic versions of most other products.  Although I don't generally eat beef anymore (for the same reason as you) we were able to get a certified organic turkey for thanksgiving.  It was a somewhat leaner but likelier a healthier bird.  

    Fear will keep the local systems in line. -Grand Moff Tarkin Survivor Left Blogistan

    by boran2 on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:16:21 PM PST

  •  Try bison instead of cattle. (4.00)
    I have ordered direct from Wild Idea Buffalo and found the meat to be excellent. The owner is a man by the name of Dan O'Brien and he wrote a great book in 2001 called Buffalo for the Broken Heart about his experience converting from cattle to bison. There are some very dramatic scenes in the book - it is a great read!

    Bison cooks leaner than cattle and the animals are humanely harvested in the field. The bison never sees a rendering plant; instead, the animal is rendered directly in the field. Try it and you will be hooked. No more slaughter house beef...

    Definition - Liberal (author unknown): A long extinct group of people that could think for themselves and were a danger to the collective.

    by exconservative on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:16:35 PM PST

  •  You know. . . (none)
    I am 6 feet tall and weigh a whopping 140 pounds

    An occassional trip to McDonalds might not be such a bad idea. . .

    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

    by LarryInNYC on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:22:24 PM PST

    •  Not McDonalds!!!! (none)
      Come on, I can think of fattening food that tastes good.  Tomaso's Pizza, pies (preferably from the farmer's market), In-N-Out Burger (not available here in Iowa, though), fruitcake, Buck's Pizza, ice cream, pot stickers (Chinese), and hash browns all come to mind.
  •  Good for you! (4.00)
    I too have become much more conscientous about where I drop my greenbacks since Chimpy assumed office.

    Leaving aside for a moment the issue of political support amongst various businesses, I would say just strive to always be frugal these days. You wouldn't want to give the administration or any Republican-inclined businesses that might get your money (and face it, the odds are overwhelmingly good that many will) any reason to feel encouraged by the current economic climate.

    As far as clothes go, J. Crew is a solidly blue company. I would also recommend trying to buy things used (keeps money exchanged between people, not corporations), though I realize that might be a challenge given your physique.

    With regards to meat, may I invite you to explore the possibilities of vegetarianism? I'm hardly militant about the matter, but I do feel good about my non-complicity in the destruction of the rainforests. Also, when Mad Cow breaks out, I'll happily miss that boat.

    You also mentioned avoiding K-Mart. I always thought they were safe because they were apolitical (no PAC associations). Am I mistaken?

    My other car is a pair of boots.

    by FutureNow on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:22:49 PM PST

  •  aoeu (none)
    sort of on topic...Maryscott O'Connor's fine diary on quiting smoking.
  •  Buy used clothing (none)
    I always shop for clothes at the Salvation Army.  I'm consistently amazed by the quality of clothing that I find there, and yet dismayed to think of all the waste, when people are giving away J. Crew, Patagonia, L.L. Bean, etc. by the bagful.  You're helping to recycle when you shop used AND you're reducing consumer consumption.
  •  Grocery stores (none)
    I looked, and you don't have either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, so I have no idea.  However both of those are good places to go for organic foods if you need a chain store.
  •  I was just thinking of composing a similar post (none)
    I'm not as much of a hippie as ZappoDave, but he's got very good points.  Regarding meat, you surely have local farmers that you can buy from, I live in the middle of Illinois, and our local market has three farms raising all kinds of meat, and you can get all the weird cuts if you're into that too, just ask 'em...
    These farms also are accessible during the winter months, you just need to let them know that you're interested in buying after the season.  Get a chest freezer (preferably an ice cream style one that freezes real cold, less freezer burn) and stock up during the summer, then you have free-range meat all winter.  I'm still getting eggs from one farm, and there's another that still has one more round of goat cheese coming.

    My question for this thread has less to do with food, I've mostly figured that out.  I'm curious for a target replacement, as that, walgreeens and walmart are all I have access to.  Is Costco the best bet to get toothpaste and such without filling the rethugs' coffers, or are there other online resources I should be looking at?

    •  Costco n/t (none)
      Costco if you can. We have a WinCo here, they are worker owned, they are great for food too.

      Hippie ethics and lifestyle? Or it's gathered from our parents and grandparents that went through the Great Depression together? Bohemian? Jazz?
      Maybe it's just "Americanism". Maybe that's what Americanism really is?

      But you would be correct. A proud Hippie here.

  •  Wow! (none)
    Thank you all for these great ideas on where to shop.  I am currently a volunteer and looking for ways to stretch my monthly living allowance without compromising my ideals.  

    I will never disappear. I will always work for peace. Cindy Sheehan

    by Cather on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:12:49 PM PST

  •  Sorry if this has been ,mentioned (none)
    but I've heard Costco is a pretty progressive company. That might be an alternative to Wal-mart/Target, if that's true. Lots of progressive buying habits are just plain good for your health. :)

    As if the CIA leak case wasnt complicated enough, now it turns out there are 2 reporters named 'Novak' involved -Maureen Dowd(paraphrased)

    by jj32 on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:32:13 PM PST

  •  Shopping (4.00)
    For food find a local Amish family and buy from them. They put up food for themselves and if you establish a good relationship with one or two families they will sell you just about anything. I get fresh milk that way. My family only has one cow so I have to go every couple of days while she is giving milk as they don't have too much extra. But if you get to know a family and then ask it should work for you.

    As for everything else:yard sales;garage sales;Salvation Army;DAV (Disabled Veterans)and local thrift stores. Only buy designer! You can indulge in GAP and all the rest of them with a clear conscience as they are not getting a penny from you and in fact,you are recycling their gear. I buy everything,and I mean everything,this way. 10 cents of the dollar,cheaper than 1950's prices. I have hundreds of silk blouses for 25 cents to 3.00 but no more. Shetland sweaters are about 25 cents at yard sales as they require careful washing so people don't like them. (I live in a red state,a neon red county and a scarlet town so believe me you can bottom feed like mad as they don't seem to get it. When I go to the stores to look I see what's coming and price it according to yard sale market value.I am talking about appliances,furniture,underwear,shoes etc everything.

    And go to your local freecycle group from yahoo. I get 20 emails a day of people offering and wanting stuff and it is all there.There is simply no reason to work just to buy retail. You will also see great bargains to resell on ebay. I run an  entire used book business on the internet this way.

    Please stop making the corporations wealthy.

  •  I'll shop for you (none)
    If you want I can shop for you at these places. You can email me with your preferences and sizes and I can hunt for you. I double the prices. If I get it for a 1.00 you pay 2.00. I leave the tags on so you can see. Also if you do it go to valpak and print coupons for the Salvation Army for 50% off. And check the colored tags for discounts and ask if there are specials on the day you go.
  •  Google John Menard + Taxes (none)
    Repeated multi-million dollar fines. The IRS just loves the guy. So does the Wisconsin DNR to the tune of $1.7 million in 1997 for violating Wisconsin's environmental laws. He also likes to plow under Wisconsin wetlands.

    "Home of the Midget Bar"~adverstisment seen on the Tri-State Tollway

    by ILDem on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 09:47:18 PM PST

  •  Bulk food delivered on a truck (none)
    Azure Standard ships organic produce & groceries to many states, including Iowa.

    They do carry organic meats. I have never ordered from them so I can't say if it's worth it-- I actually just found out about them last night.

  •  Since you asked, here's MY two plus cents... (none)
    For meat you can try to go directly to a butcher. There still are some around.

    For chains, there are good ones. Costco not only is rather blue but pays well, treats the employees well and also not only has quality products (quality being one of the qualifications for getting a product in) but supports local businesses in each locale including produce, milk, cheeses, and more. What you find in a California store isn't likely to be duplicated at a British Columbia store. Costco's also likely to be one of the best places to buy meat.

    BEEF Chat: Inside Costco

    Another thing about Costco is you can take your friends, family, neighbors (or pick stuff up for them too) and split the gas and time up amongst you especially since there are fewer Costcos than the evil WM. You can also split up some of the large sized products from Costco if you can find willing people.

    For other chains if you can go to a local, unionized one then that's better than the normal national big box.

    Whatever you do (and here is my preaching moment) stay away from Wal-Mart (which you've already done) and stay away from Tyson (even at Costco) which is essentially the Wal-Mart of Meat. A major race to the bottom in many, many ways and with Wal-Mart's help (read JR Monsterfodder's recent entries -- links to the rest in comments section -- for reasons to stay away and other helpful hints and links).

    Farmer's markets are really, really wonderful but it's also possible there are farms near you regardless of where you live, even if you live in a city, that grows year round and also possibly sells shares. It is something to Google. Here is the first one I came up with when I did a search and I wasn't even looking for something in Iowa:
    Sunflower Fields Farm Shares

    Here is how to get Iowa specific info:
    To find out more about where you can purchase Iowa-grown produce, contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship at 515-281-5321 and ask for a copy of their directories: "Farm Fresh," which lists farmers markets, strawberry producers, fruit and vegetable growers, honey producers, and Christmas tree producers; "Organic Producers and Processors"; and "Iowa Family Farm Meats."

    Fast food: In the Northwest Burgerville is a great way to go. A little more expensive but the quality difference is much more amazing than the price diff. They have seasonal items, healthy items, and vegetarian items that aren't soy/mushroom based (and my daughter says they even cook them on a different grill than the meat which is important to her) made with local ingredients. You can check menu items and locations at the link.

    Some things are a matter of degree. I believe anything is better than Wal-Mart (except maybe Tyson which ties with and is good neighbor to Wal-Mart). Therefore Target is the lesser of the two evils. For clothes The Gap is better than Wal-Mart hands down. Yes, the clothes are produced in the same countries as Wal-Mart clothes but The Gap will let third-party inspectors into factories their clothes are produced while Wal-Mart will not, not on your life. However, to really wear your heart on your sleeve you can look up "Made in USA" clothing on the internet. There are lots of places still to get not just clothes but also textiles still made in the United States. Quality is likely to be much better as well which means it will last longer and have resell value (at least for the 2nd hand shop if not you). If you are reading this you have internet access so theoretically can order clothes from the net as well especially if you aren't a mainstream size. Hanna Andersson is a good company all around from top to bottom in their practices for quality clothes that last and last and last (especially the children's clothing but there is adult clothing too) made with 100% cotton (including green) with lots of important details. Costs a bit more but the price per wearing is nearly nil.

    However, I've found I rarely like the current selections (for instance at Gap) so instead find what I want at eBay. For me it is better than driving to the thrift store (which does often help the community) to see IF they have something. I can search for what I want in my size and even the colors I'm likely to find appealing. Supporting the local clothing stores though is good though. Even in small towns there are often seamstresses/tailors (what is the gender neutral word for one who sews clothes?) who not only can make things from scratch or even sell clothes they've made but also can do alterations/repairs on clothes you already have.

    The shopping habit I've changed the most this last year is to stop buying material things for myself and especially for others' gifts. Birthdays and other occasions get memberships, magazine subs (to the more obscure like New Moon for Girls), or admissions to the comedy clubs (there is a family friendly one near where I live -- and in 22 other cities -- so makes for great birthday gifts for my daughter's friends as well as mine). The one material thing I do go for without reserve is books!

    For activities these days I'd rather go horseback riding (or a hike at least) or sailing or something than shopping.

    However, I do allow myself to splurge (somewhat, as splurge is a matter of perspective) on some things like yummy smelling bath soaps. I feel good when I use them. I spend more on clothes but I don't need as many clothes and the clothes I do get fit and wear really well and go with so much. I feel good when I wear the clothes. I spend a little more on food and it is yummy and I enjoy it. I guess it's important to figure out what's worth it to you.

    One cool splurge is to buy from businesses like this when you find them which are not just good but really, REALLY GOOD:
    Hot Lips

    I also agree with the cable TV sentiment. I rid myself of it a decade ago because I hated having another remote (and all the silly hoops like you couldn't record one channel and watch another). The main thing though was by paying such a price for it I felt I had to watch TV to get my money's worth. What a waste of my time and therefore my money. Besides TV watching these days is to buy into the materialistic thing. Anymore the only reason for TV shows is to be a vehicle for the ads that make you want and will get you to shop or eat. Even the shows can be nothing but an advertisement as with Dr. Phil and his ringing Wal-Mart endorsements (GAG!) several days ago. Less TV = less wanting = less shopping = less debt = more savings and time for the important stuff like people, home and excercise and hey... better health.

    I quit smoking too and just last night realized that this year before quitting I went through at least 20 cartons. That's $700+ I'll never get back. The only good thing about that idiocy is the  taxes I paid.

    Thanks for the post and solicitation for ideas. It was fun to share and fun to read what you and others have to say.

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