9. Roberta MacDonald: To Have Life, You Have to Have Death
What does Cabot Cheese have to do with The Bucket’s mission of helping people lead more fulfilling lives by embracing their own mortality? Find out in this conversation with Roberta MacDonald, SVP of Marketing at Cabot Cheese and a long-time hospice volunteer. From the “Circle of Life” that takes place on the Cabot Co-op’s farms, to the “family truths” she sees revealed in the intimate moments of hospice, Berta tells us what she feels are the benefits of talking openly about death as well as why Cabot Cheese is a sponsor of Kimberly Paul’s “Live Well. Die Well.” You’ll also hear her weigh in on The Bucket’s mission and how time is like a checking account in which “every minute you have, think of it as a dollar. How do you want to spend it?”
David Abend: Hi, this is David Abend, founder of The Bucket and your host for today’s podcast with Roberta McDonald, SVP of marketing at Cabot Cheese. That’s right. Cabot Cheese. What does Cabot Cheese have to do with The Bucket’s mission of helping people lead more fulfilling lives by embracing their own mortality? Well, that’s what I wanted to find out. So, I took a road trip up to Cabot’s headquarters in Warren, Vermont to talk with Roberta.
Today, I’m talking to Roberta McDonald, SVP of marketing at Cabot Cheese, or is it Cabot Creamery? I see it both Cabot cheese and Cabot Creamery
Roberta MacDonald: It’s both. Cabot Creamery Co-op is the official name.
David Abend: While I’m at it, Roberta or Berta, I see it both ways also?
Roberta MacDonald: We’ll so how you feel.
David Abend: Before coming to Cabot almost 30 years ago, Berta previously served as Vermont’s first marketing director, a position created for her by Governor Kunin in 1984. She has been recognized with many awards for design, promotions, and high impact public relations programs, including the highest individual award by B-Corp. Prior to moving to Vermont, Berta provided marketing, consulting and/or staff services for the San Francisco Opera, National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, American Express, NYU, CBS, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Hello, Berta.
Roberta MacDonald: Hello David.
David Abend: We talked because I was being interviewed by Kimberly Paul, about her Live Well, Die Well tour. For people who don’t know, Kimberly Paul is going around the country in her RV with her German shepherd and spreading the word about end of life care and planning for death. She was interviewing me, and she talked about one of her sponsors being Cabot Cheese. And I said, “Whoa, Cabot Cheese?” It’s like why is Cabot Cheese sponsoring your trip. She has a great podcast with you, so my goal is not to repeat that podcast. And everybody listening should go to the Death by Design podcast. You can Google it. I don’t want to redo that. But for our listeners, why is Cabot Cheese sponsoring her tour?
Roberta MacDonald: Well, David, I’d rather hear why you think we are. What do you think even Kimberly said, I’d be very curious about your guess or insight.
David Abend: Well, from what I’ve read it’s two things. One is the whole idea of the farm, the death that happens on a farm, its death is part of life on a farm, and it’s, it’s healthy to think about that and to factor it into what is going on. So that’s the first reason. That’s the short answer for that. The second reason is it’s a passion of yours. You’re a hospice volunteer, and I’d like you to talk more about that, but that’s something you do. It’s actually a question that I had is you’ve been here almost 30 years, right? If you had been at someplace else for almost 30 years, would you be sponsoring Kimberly Paul’s Live Well, Die Well tour, or is it a combination of Cabot and Berta?
Roberta MacDonald: It’s a great question. It has to be a combination because I definitely was in the Manhattan two gin gimlet lunch crowd. I had the stilettos and the makeup, and when I dismounted my pumps and came to Vermont, it was strictly to have kids and to live a life more grounded. Would I have found hospice without Cabot? I rather doubt it because, in fact, I was traveling for Cabot, caught in a snowstorm in Philadelphia, started talking to a couple, who was looking for volunteer opportunity, which was the subject of our conversation because the kids were out of the home and it was time to, you know you mean there’s no sports tonight? You mean I don’t have to go to a fundraiser? It was like, Whoa, I have all this time I didn’t know I had, so what am I going to do with it? And, and they suggested hospice because they loved it. And I said, “That’s interesting.” I had a lot of friends who died. I was in San Francisco during the peak of AIDS. I naturally was attracted to people who are dying because they had no qualms about discussing openly what they were going through. That was just sort of natural. I think because maybe raised as a Catholic, you saw this guy a cross bleeding every day. I don’t know what sets you up for being open to death, but I always was.
Seemed to me that the only thing I ever had any fears about was perpetual wonderfulness. Heaven sort of freaked me out. That’s why I don’t like California. It’s another beautiful day.
David Abend: What took place that had you bring this idea to Cabot?
Roberta MacDonald: You have to know that everything I like to do has been what we’ve done for 30 years. In other words, I like to play poker, so for 10 years we had a put a bad beat on hunger at the Borgata in New Jersey to raise money for the food bank. We’d raised over a quarter million dollars just out of entry fees. So whatever I like to do, I could translate, but guess what? There was this underlying platform, consciously or not, that the farmers who are at the core of their communities, they’re the ones who drive the bus, they’re the ones who serve on the councils, they’re the ones people call in times of emergency and are certainly helped for their own. Those values are what made me want to work for Cabot. I certainly had choices, but to work for dairy farmers, to have the idea that you can support these generations of operations was pretty magnificent purpose for my work and that purpose connected with what do they like to do and what do we like to do? That’s where the volunteering came to. So we’re all about volunteering no matter what. I just happened to be about hospice, but we have other volunteers who built mountain bike trails or serve on EMT squads. We all here, farmers, employees, all volunteer some way, and this just happens to be mine.
David Abend: Everybody has things that they volunteer for? But I’ll bet not all of those people when they bring up the thing they’re volunteering for and asking for the company to get involved, get the same response as you did when you said, I want to talk about death.
Roberta MacDonald: No, it was a pretty. In fact, David, seriously, I want to take it as a comedy act. I sincerely think it could be really quite something. I said to Kimberly, forgive me for repeating myself, but for me if you think about what does a consumer of Cabot Cheese look like? Well, I’m pretty sure every one of them is going to die and I don’t know any other companies that are even relating to it. So, the only people that often relate to the subject of death are funeral homes, healthcare systems, if they do it well, and then very brave family members. But the whole concept of advanced directives, medical advocation, POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), COLST (Clinician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), whatever you want to call it, you didn’t have your paperwork with you, the EMT is taking you to the hospital and somebody shocked you that they didn’t know what your wishes were.
David Abend: Right. So what was the reaction in terms of running as fast as they could the other way or running to embrace you?
Roberta MacDonald: This is the truth. In fact, I just wrote an email of thanks. On our website there’s all my crazy little ditties. Maybe the people are just making fun of me. But all my crazy ideas, I do little books and one of my books is Josephine’s Answers and I tracked a five-year-old until she was eight. She’s very afraid of dying. I ask her questions, and these were her answers. So Jo Jo’s answers are the subject of a book, which has helped grandparents talk to their grandkids about dying, but it comes from kids know more than we think they do and we try to protect them.
“Well grandma’s just asleep, the dog’s just asleep on the side of the road.” We don’t talk about it. Well farmers can talk about it. The sales guys were so repulsed, but my group of farm ladies, not only did they embrace the idea of Jo Jo’s answers in the book, they wrote introductions in the book because for them it’s part of farm life, as you said in your introduction. Farm life is led by seasons. Those seasons are our lives. I, for one, celebrate the end as much as most people celebrate the beginning. I think the end, if you’re really lucky and you’ve got time to say goodbye, can be absolutely awesome.
David Abend: Yeah. That’s a really interesting way to look at it. Talk a little bit more about the whole idea of the farm and the cycle of life. There seems to be a parallel, if not a connection, between the co-op and the end of life care in terms of it being about a community. Do you see that?
Roberta MacDonald: That’s a lovely observation. We acted on it. We started an end of life doula certification at Lerner Medical School, affiliated with the continuing ed because of that relationship. On a farm every day somebody’s dying a cow, a family member, an animal, a tree. It is fundamental. To have life, you have to have death and it doesn’t have to be an equality. It doesn’t have to be an equilibrium you want to achieve, but it is certainly a part of the full spectrum or the full picture. You don’t have the picture that most Americans understand, which is there’s a house and there’s food in the store and food in your fridge, and there’s some birthdays and holidays.
Well, full spectrum is there’s dying. And, where did that food come from? We’re full spectrum opportunity. There’s so many cool farms. I looked at a magazine article that was written 25 years ago in Vermont, Where would Vermont be in 2020. My quote was boxed in purple, and at that point Kevorkian had just made the big news 25 years ago, and I really saw Vermont resorts, which I figured where the population was going, we would not have people spry enough to continue to ski. So, all these resorts with rooms would have to convert their operations to Kevorkian death centers. I thought, why not have parties? Little did I know, many years later Act 39 came along in Vermont, and I just witnessed my very first one last weekend. I’d never been part of a deliberate death choice until recently.
David Abend: I actually didn’t know that.
Roberta MacDonald: Yep.
David Abend: Wow.
Roberta MacDonald: Yup. Act 39. So that was certainly not part of our walk towards this. I don’t know. It’s kind of funny, but I love that the farm wives supported it and they had no qualms about it. It’s the people who don’t talk about it that do.
David Abend: The not talking about it that, I’ve heard you say that you’re unapologetic about talking about it.
Roberta MacDonald: I also use the word ‘die’ not ‘passed’. Which does that mean in a lane, on a highway?
David Abend: Yeah. Because that’s something at The Bucket we try. We have an article about the language and it is something that I think contributes to the taboo, contributes to the lack of thinking about how much time you have left. For us, we’re not trying to depress people, we’re just trying to shake people by the shoulders a little and say, “Think about how much time you have left. How are you going to use that?” And we think that being unapologetic and we use the D word.
Roberta MacDonald: I have been afraid that people didn’t face the reality since first grade. I can remember my first existential experience with the nuns and the way they spoke about purgatory and the way they frightened about death and dying. I kept saying, “Yeah, you’re all wrong and you only have five seconds. And by the way, infinity surrounds me.”
David Abend: I think I’ve told you we have this thing with The Bucket called the bucket age, which is your statistical life expectancy minus your current age. I think my life expectancy is 85 because it’s an easy number to subtract from. And I’m 61, so my bucket age is 24.
Roberta MacDonald: Mines only 17. I did mine right away.
David Abend: Okay, good. You did yours. What do you think about that perspective and do you think that’s a good way for people to look at it?
Roberta MacDonald: A very bright way to look at it. I think everybody looks, unfortunately because of social security they look at 65 as some precipice, right? You’re going to get there and then fall off the relevance cliff, but in my family, unfortunately, our number isn’t 85, it’s 105. I mean, we are generations of long living women. And the sad thing is they’re all smokers and drinkers and they still lived.
David Abend: So why do you have 17?
Roberta MacDonald: I’m going to take yours. I like that idea. I’d rather be very vigorous. I’m not here to just stay, stay. I really love the idea of purpose. As long as you can contribute. When we travel, I try to do hospice in different communities just because I want to see how they treat death and dying and very curious about it. I guess I’m describing a sport, aren’t I? But the interesting thing is how too often we park the elders, we parked them because sometimes we have to, they need so much care and attention, they can’t get it at home. That sort of attracts me to, okay, what’s next? Well, part of it possibly is what is that time of life about there? There really is purpose in every age. I’m just not sure we’ve figured out what old age is. I don’t know about you, but I love studying what the American Indians did with the elders or the Eskimos, you reach a point of non-productivity and you’re sent off on the ice flow. Well, we don’t have any ice flows, so they’re stuck, alright. But I really think we’ve got to find a better purpose. When I think of The Bucket, it’s not just to the end that you’re challenging, it’s all that time in between.
David Abend: Absolutely. Any one of the articles we have is just thinking like if you have something on your bucket list you can’t wait to do it if it requires physical, if it’s strenuous, you have to do it now. It seems like there are so many obstacles that we have that many of which we make up about why I don’t have time. I don’t have money. You know money is important to doing extravagant bucket things, but one of the things we try to have in the bucket are articles about “how-to’, like house swapping where it doesn’t really cost you that much to swap houses with somebody and you get this experience that you couldn’t have gotten otherwise and you thought money was in the way, but it isn’t. It seems like there are a lot of things where it’s inertia. It’s a feeling like, I don’t know how, and that’s one of the things we want the bucket to be is “this is how”.
Roberta MacDonald: I want you to take on a single people. Because sometimes the excuses, “Oh, I don’t want to go by myself.” I believe there are a lot more one-sies out there at a certain age than there are two-sies. So part of that too is finding those friends in your volunteer group who can swap the driving. It’s seeking companionship to go do something.
Often if it’s tied to a productive purpose, every college nowadays has, what did my daughter call it, something alternative spring break. One of the ways you can explore is find out where the school’s going for alternative spring break. It’s always a good-guy mission. It’s always go paint the church or fix the daycare center. I believe if you can ground your explorations or your bucket list in some doing good or paying back, you’ll find a lot more help getting there than you can imagine doing it on your own.
David Abend: What is she doing?
Roberta MacDonald: Well, this is what she did, alternative spring break, for five years in college. She did all kinds of different things. She’s now an ER nurse. Very proud of that little angel girl.
David Abend: So, in your hospice work you’re obviously seeing a lot of people at the end of life and one of the things that we want to prevent is it sneaking up on you. So, the Bucket Age is one of the ways we do that. Do you think for the most part it sneaks up on people, death?
Roberta MacDonald: Yes. Well, I don’t know the statistics on violent death, you know where you’re hit by the bus. Natural death, my hospice coach told me this. Do you know the number one cause of death?
David Abend: I don’t.
Roberta MacDonald: Birth.
David Abend: I fell for it.
Roberta MacDonald: Right on cue. The end of life is as varied as leaves in a forest. I don’t know how anybody cannot marvel at how families, the energy among families. I can’t tell you what an incredible opportunity is to serve at hospice. I get a little crazy cool about it. I just can’t tell you because it’s so human. It’s the most visceral of all our natures, how we behave when you’re stripped of everything you thought you owned and stripped of everything you thought you wanted and you’re left with you, by yourself, on a bed waiting for the next med. Who’s there? Who’s visiting? What did they say? What are you feeling? It’s huge.
David Abend: That must be really emotional for the person as well as the family.
Roberta MacDonald: It can be emotional, it can be a painful, it can be beautiful, which is one of many emotions. Emotions and then they are every color of the rainbow and you go through it all. You even get anger. You can’t imagine, why am I here? I didn’t want to be here. And they’re all tethered to a million tubes. So, are they saying they don’t want to be alive, or are they saying they don’t want to be in this place? We’re very fortunate in Vermont how Holly Miller and Lois McClure gave the last of their variable incomes to the formation of the respite house, which is like a five-star lodge.
I mean, each room is huge and you have plenty of rooms for chairs. There’s a sofa bed, so relatives can spend the night. It’s as pleasant as you could possibly imagine. The surroundings are as beautiful as you could ever afford, but it doesn’t bely the purpose of why you’re there.
David Abend: Right. One of the things that we are trying to do is make it so people live a fulfilling life and also die with fewer regrets. When we say die well, it’s not the act of dying necessarily, it’s that you don’t have these regrets. Like, I wish I had done this. I wish I had done that. What kind of regrets do you see on the deathbed?
Roberta MacDonald: It’s interesting when you get a chance to be alone. Most truth doesn’t come out unless it’s one on one, certainly with the family. I try to leave when they’re getting into family truths. But for individuals, regrets are always about people, not about things, always about coulda’, shoulda’ woulda’s to somebody.
One of the things that I find it a joy if I feel that they’re open to it is to discuss the impact of any action if you understand basic physics. You have no idea how you change something else, so perhaps your negative action created something positive so you can’t live there, you can’t go past. Now what I instead ask the people who are in that frame to imagine is, okay, it’s a do over, now what are we going to do? Let’s play it all out again. What happens now, so that it can on some level somewhere happen over. And I truly believe in that Imagineering, and I do believe the responsibility of each of us to imagine the very best as an outcome because I think that’s what we’re doing.
David Abend: Can you explain that a little more? Because you lost me a little and I think it’s really important that I understand exactly what you’re saying.
Roberta MacDonald: Well, what I’m basically saying is if you look at a cellular level of anything and you look at the energy that is the heart of the universe, what’s binding us together? Aren’t we all these individual cells, aren’t we all these? And that’s why I set it up particle level, atomic, subatomic. There is nothing. I mean, the Buddhist had it right, that there’s nothing. Therefore, what we imagine with that energy that is us can be whatever we want it to be. So, you dear soul, who are about to leave us, imagine what comes next. Imagine what you could have done differently because I believe that joy is what actually creates what comes next for..
David Abend: For?
Roberta MacDonald: Anybody.
David Abend: So you see people, families, friends change happen in them?
Roberta MacDonald: Oh, yeah.
David Abend: Talk about that.
Roberta MacDonald: I just had the experience recently of five siblings. One of the brothers was dying, two of the siblings were sisters, so there were husbands there. This family sat hours together and they were able to because of the first death of the sibling to express such gratitude to one another, to reflect on how they all grew and what they became, and then to pledge to what they were going to continue to together.
I was so grateful I snuck in food. I’m not supposed to cook. I cooked. I can cook for the clients from the larder there, but I snuck in a whole bunch of food on Sunday night and I made them all chicken parm, just so we could sit around and feast and not have another night of pizza, but that joy, that collective gratitude, that collective love. I mean, they as a family just themselves. And I got to witness that. It’s amazing.
David Abend: You know, I recently, interviewed BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger who wrote A Beginner’s Guide to the End. I asked him about regret, what he has witnessed and it was the same thing you just said. It was not about things. It was about people.
Roberta MacDonald: At some point, if you think about how much of our economy is driven on acquiring things, it’s why I love Vermont and why I love working for farmers because if they wanted things they would not be farming. It’s why I mock my two gin Gimlet lunches in New York City is because I was so high from all the energy and the hush and rush, it’s hardly a hush, the hubbub is what I meant to say that, that the concept of now, you know, bless you Baba Ram Dass around us, you don’t even understand what it means until you can sit quietly in a field or sit quietly with somebody dying and hold that space and realize it goes on forever in this solitude and healing and that’s presence and that’s all you need. No more things. We need food, but guess what? I’m working for the good guys, right? The farmers.
David Abend: One of the things I talk about is the choir, and it’s the death positivity movement, which I think is great. I think it’s wonderful, but I always feel like people listening right now, I think a lot of them are in the choir.
Roberta MacDonald: Right. It is hard to get people that are not in the choir to listen to anything.
David Abend: Right. And so, how do we get, people who aren’t in the choir to embrace this idea and see the value of planning for end of life?
Roberta MacDonald: I’m not necessarily inclined to do that, I just want you to know. But I do believe that every profession has a point of view about understanding the benefits of appreciating death. It’s kind of like solar, you just have to figure out what the angle is. So for a tax accountant, you think about death because you’re planning estates, right? If we understood death from a taxes point of view and an inevitability, we should understand that thinking ahead will save the family money and grief.
And anyone, you don’t have to use much of an imagination to publish stories about terrible deaths and terrible deaths are those that are sustained on equipment for months and months. As a society that has a limited capacity for compassion, because there’s going to be so many boomers hitting the Medicare. Is it cade or care? I don’t know. It’s one of those. No matter what, if we don’t start parsing out what we’re covering and what we’re supporting, we sure should give family bonuses to those that say, I don’t want anything. I think if we turned it into a financial gain as a subject, and we weave it into just daily operations, I think it’ll be an easier conversation.
I’m not kidding about the comedy. I have more fun riffing on it. There’s a woman in LA, did you hear about this? She has a suit that you just drop the body in and you plant that and you have mushrooms.
David Abend: I didn’t hear about the mushroom part,
Roberta MacDonald: I don’t think it flew as an idea. But pets, a lot of people bury their pets and so they ended up, it’s much more of a pet jacket since you don’t need the same laws.
David Abend: Yeah, I know that there’s the Italian company Capsula Mundi, which has pods.
Roberta MacDonald: We have a farmer with pods.
David Abend: What they’re trying to do is make it so you can actually bury the body in the pods and it’s the fertilizer for a tree, and instead of a cemetery of markers, you have trees that are grown up, but it’s still not legal.
Roberta MacDonald: I think we’re not far away from that. I just think most farmers, do you think their land might carry some bodies that aren’t legally planted there? One of my fundraising concepts for them is to create sanctuary areas.
Always along the river and between the river and land, there’s a riparian area that you don’t want to plant too far because you want to let roots grow down so that there’s no runoff. I would love to see our farmers sell acres to families that live in city so that they have a place to plant their loved ones or spread the ashes, but that then the family has a place to go to.
David Abend: That’s a great idea.
Roberta MacDonald: We just call it sanctuary lands. We’ve researched all the burial rules in every state, but it’s just one of those things. They’ll get around to it. The one thing, I’m not in a hurry, I’m really convinced that that we are just a nat of time. I mean, even think of the U.S. it’s just a blink. We’re so silly now with what we care about that we’ll get it right.
David Abend: Silly. In terms of…
Roberta MacDonald: Makeup.
David Abend: Oh, right. The things versus the people. I think the things are sometimes important. I admit that for me, doing the things that I want to do, which are things…
Roberta MacDonald: Doing things are not things. Doing things are requiring things. You can’t acquire a trip.
David Abend: Well, I love to kayak. I’m going kayaking next weekend.
Roberta MacDonald: You need a kayak. That’s not a thing.
David Abend: That’s is not a thing?
Roberta MacDonald: A thing to me is when you’re buying to have, if you have more than four of them, I think you have a problem.
David Abend: Good I only have two
Roberta MacDonald Okay. I’m just saying. You need an ocean on, you need a river one, you need different ones.
David Abend: My wife and I go on a tandem, and then I have two solos, but one of them I had for 15 years, and the other one I’ve had for 15 years
Roberta MacDonald: Do a new one.
David Abend: I guess I think that it’s part of that money doesn’t buy happiness, but that’s usually said by people with money kind of thing.
Roberta MacDonald: I don’t know. I don’t know. If you take the word money and substitute faith, I have a lot of faith. I don’t want to go into it’s not about the money, it’s about the values.
People can have all the money in the world. I think the Sacklers thought they are very thoughtful in what they’ve done for the Louvre or whatever, or Susan (sic) Walton for the Crystal Bridges Museum, or Carnegie or Mellon or anyone that had a lot of wealth, was very generous from a cultural point of view, maybe at the expense of individual employees.
I think anyone should acquire whatever they think they need, and I’m not going to judge. I just get very concerned, and I’m going to bring it back to your subject, when the end of life is not perceived as you’ve got this much time to make your life have been worth something. Okay? So, I don’t think lives are going to be judged on what you acquired.
David Abend: Yes. I definitely agree with that.
Roberta MacDonald: Okay. But they couldn’t be judged on how many cool pictures you took all over the world and showed people what Machu Picchu looks like., I have a friend who’s a forensic anthropologist and he goes to Mongolia, and I waited with bated breath for him to come back from his crazy desert thing so I can see what horrible things he discovered. Am I going to go there? No, but I’m thrilled that he can.
David Abend: What do you think of the, I hear this quoted a lot but I never see the source, that people don’t regret the things they did, they regret the things they didn’t do
Roberta MacDonald: Do you think we could ever do everything we wanted and say, Oh, over?
David Abend: No.
Roberta MacDonald: No
David Abend: But for instance, The Bucket, I’ve had this idea for over 35 years.
Roberta MacDonald: And you finally did it.
David Abend: I finally did it.
Roberta MacDonald: Good for you David.
David Abend: And it was something that started, I think I told you on the phone, a friend’s mother died of cancer at a young age and I went to the funeral and they built her a pine box themselves from scratch. It was the kind of family that did that. They grew all their own vegetables. And, so that wasn’t shocking, but as I was driving back into Boston, I was talking to my friend and I said nobody else knows how to do that. Like wouldn’t it be great if there was a magazine that talked about this? They gave plans for building a coffin and that told you how to deal with end of life and had articles about this because there’s nothing we’re so afraid of? It is such a taboo. That’s where this idea started and it’s evolved since then. But it would have been one of those things I’d have regretted that I didn’t do. It isn’t a success yet. I’m trying, but, I have done it now.
Roberta MacDonald: So that’s off your bucket list?
David Abend: It’s off my bucket list. I certainly hope it gets traction and gets more successful, but it’s off my bucket list as having the balls to do I.
Roberta MacDonald: Or the breasts?
David Abend: Yes.
Roberta MacDonald: Thank you. I’m going to very women centric business.
David Abend: I think that there’s something to be said for that. I would not have wanted to be on my death bed thinking I wish I had done The Bucket.
Roberta MacDonald: I hope I’m on my death bed saying that there’s lots of thing. I hope I run out of time. That’s the commodity, is using time. We have a farmer, Thorncrest Farm, the family has built the entire barn out of wood they hewn from the land. It’s faced so that it catches the summer solstice. It’s all by the stars. They use certain cows to make chocolate. He makes handmade furniture for some major celebrities. It’s how they’ve chosen to use time. So it isn’t so much about making the pine box, it’s taking the time to make the pine box. What’s so cool about what you’re doing is you put time into a perspective as this is your checking account. Every minute you have, think of it as a dollar, how do you want to spend it? People that make me crazy say, “Oh my God, I’ve just wasted an hour. Anything where they just disparage of using time poorly I keep going you’ve just blown, think of it as $1 million dollars. I mean, if we started to shift our consciousness about time, which is that is the commodity, to breathe in and out, which death assures you there is an end. You only get to breathe in and out so long. What are you going to do with that time?
David Abend: Where do you waste the most time?
Roberta MacDonald: I waste the most time playing poker or watching movies.
David Abend: Is that a waste of time though?
Roberta MacDonald: I love poker so much and I love it because it’s one of the few things I don’t think. I don’t think when I’m playing poker except about playing poker, and I love how they underestimate the old lady and I can win.
David Abend: So I know that you weren’t talking with me to promote Cabot Cheese per se, but let’s say I’m in the supermarket and there’s Cabot Cheese and there’s another cheese, why should I buy a Cabot cheese?
Roberta MacDonald: First of all, if you try it, you will like it better than any other cheddar. The taste, I think is just remarkable. We try to create Cabot Junkies. So trial is behind every activity we roll out. But I think more and more people are understanding that their dollars, which is now it’s appropriate to talk about buying things cause it’s food for the family, you should be worried about where it’s from and what does it serve when you buy it. If you compared our cheeses to many of the others, not all of them, because I certainly have Vermont brethren cheese companies that I would say,” please buy Vermont Creamery goat cheese.” But It’s from a co-op and we’re a certified B Corp, meaning our mission takes all stakeholders into account, our communities, our consumers, the environment. We give a damn, and I’m not sure all companies have sought out every affirmation of that truth we have. And so your money is your vote. I hope they vote for us.
David Abend: Thanks for listening. People like Roberta and companies like Cabot are an inspiration and helping change the way we talk about and deal with mortality in our culture. For more information about Roberta and Cabot Cheese, go to cabotcheese.com. For more information about the bucket, go to the bucket.com that’s the bucket, all one word.com.