Dear Umbra,

I’m a conscientious baby boomer who would like to do things to help the planet. I’m simultaneously enjoying a midlife crisis. I have spent more than eight years in college, studying to be a psychologist/chef. Where in the eco-field is there a place for a reformed business owner/computer teacher/chef with years and years of experience in the psychology of women?

Dr. Thom
Jacksonville, Fla.

Dearest Dr. Thom,

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Get a job that takes the cake.

The “eco-field” is not a profession. It’s not the Law, or Medicine, or Elementary School Teaching. The eco-field is like unto a mighty river whose tributaries run through all professions. Despite the best efforts of the current federal administration to stem the eco-field flow, it won’t be long before the river breaks the banks and levees built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and floods all remaining untouched professions.

If you followed my rhapsodic waxing, you’ll have understood my point. All roads lead to Rome, and it follows that you should do good by the planet while doing what you love, whether it be more years spent on the psychology of women or teaching computer classes or (my personal preference) opening a cake shoppe. Whatever you choose next, you can make your work part of the eco-field river. I know lawyers, carpenters, musicians, and cartoonists who have all floated their boats on said river.

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Take that hypothetical cake shoppe, for example: Bakers and chefs are in a perfect position to support environmentally sound suppliers and to advocate for sustainable food systems. Chefs Collaborative is a national organization of environmentally minded chefs who have banded together to be responsible producers and purveyors, emphasizing fresh, local ingredients and sustainable seafoods and meats. Chefs in the local Seattle chapter (FORKS: Fields Oceans Ranches Kitchens Stewards) buy from organic farmers, purchase wild-caught fish, hold events to promote sustainable agriculture, and generally have fun eating good food. The market for ecologically sound cakes is currently unlimited: I’m sure you could contract with an organic wheat grower who would be relieved to start diverting some of his/her crop from unpredictable commodity markets. The sustainable chocolate trend is also on the rise.

The more I think about it, the more an ecologically sound chocolate cake shoppe seems to combine all of your talents: business acumen, cooking, and the psychology of women. Your midlife career change toward an environmentally beneficial career is limited only by your imagination.


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