Monday, November 10, 2008

Ethical Eating

Here I was thinking that pregnancy had just totally killed all brain and energy I had and I was doomed to a couple of months of doing not much and only being able to read moronic chick-lit type books-turned out I was just iron deficient. Once I worked that out and started treating it I felt great!

So when I came across the ethics section of the library I stocked up. The Ethics of What we Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason was first up. Many people hate Singer but I find his books quite interesting and thought provoking-the one about Bush's ethics and morals (The President of Good and Evil?) was very good. Ethics of eating is rather relevant to our situation now. Before I fell pregnant I was loving cooking, and we were eating mostly fresh and homegrown food with very little meat. However when morning sickness kicked in I lost all interest in food and cooking-moving interstate didn't help, and even now i'm not particularly into it. So our diet has slid somewhat-some convenience food crept in, meat consumption increased and junk increased. Reading this has given me enough of a guilt trip to pull my socks up.

So the goals now are

Animal cruelty-no more meat. We'll eat what we have and that'll be it. We don't have much, but I did turn to meat products to fix my iron deficiency. So once it's out it's out, and we won't be eating it when we go out anymore either, we've been dithering for years and I think it's time for total vegetarianism. In regards to other animal products, we're dairy fiends so milk, cheese and other dairy products will remain. I've started replacing some cows milk with soy and that'll do until we get settled back into non-meat eating again, reducing it can be my next goal. Eggs-I don't believe any supermarket eggs are ethical to eat. Even 'free-range' hens aren't kept in anywhere near optimal conditions. I put in a request weeks ago to get some chooks but our RE agent is absolutely useless and can't seem to return calls-i'm thinking of getting them anyway, screw them, it's not like i'm asking to get a rottweiler. Until then i'll use the vegan Orgran Egg Replacer for eggs in cooking-we don't eat egg meals anymore because I can't stand the rubbery tasteless things i've been buying after our completely free-range eggs from our chooks. I'd already cut out most other non-necessary animal products a while back (eg Massel vegan stocks) so that's easy to continue. I also need to do more research on the 'hidden' animal products, like rennet.

Environmental-Cutting back on animal products goes a long way towards minimising environmental harm-one thing i've never considered before was disposal of animal waste from factory farming which is hugely polluting. An intriguing part of the book investigated the newish fad of locavores which is basically eating as locally as possible in order to reduce food miles. Their conclusion was that a lot of the time eating locally will produce more pollution if you have to go out of your way to buy it, due to the food making smaller trips from the producer to stores/market then home to you. I'll keep getting vegies from the local markets because they're so much fresher and better quality and it's less than 2kms away. I used to walk there, and will do so again once i'm not so huge. We're getting more organised with the garden now as well and focussing on fast-growing, high yielding foods rather than all our whimsical things (really, I don't need to be growing giant gourds in a rental). Until we buy we're somewhat limited in growing, but producing some part of every meal is my current goal-we're about halfway there.

Health-i'm making much more of an effort to cook from scratch again, I got pretty lazy there for a while. This generally means we eat masses of grains, fruit and veg because that's what I know how to prepare the best. I'll stick to making loaves of bread from scratch but will stop beating myself up about buying other breads like rolls-it can be a future goal when I get a better oven. I also now have a pasta maker which is awesome-how did I live with that terrible bagged stuff?? The snack foods I do buy can generally be bought 'better' so i'm doing that-eg organic, low packaging rice and corn cakes.

Another interesting part was about freegans who obtain all their food for free, mainly by 'dumpster diving'. I've heard of this before and was revolted, I suppose picturing eating from my bin. But the way it was explained here made it look like a much better idea, bringing up how much food supermarkets turf which is still completely packaged and within date. It wouldn't really fit into my lifestyle now, being rather time-intensive (but less so than slaving away at work to pay the supermarket) but I think i'd be open to it if it was just me to feed-i'd definitely go along for a trip.

That's it for the food for now-but I still have the rest of the lifestyle to bring back in line. A book about waste is next on the shelf, should be interesting.

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