I love the blogosphere.
Caitlin, over at her blog Healthy Tipping Point posted great answer to the question What Does “Ethical Eating” Mean? yesterday
I’ll get to Caitlin’s thoughts, and my own in a minute. But you need to know, this post pretty much made my day. It’s basically the post I’ve been trying to write on this blog for weeks. Over the past few weeks (possibly the past few months), I’ve been going through another phase of debate over what I should (or shouldn’t) be eating. There’s so much information out there and so many opinions. It seems as though the more informed you are, the harder it is to make the right decision. Should you buy all organic, or is organic an irrelevant label? Is sugar, stevia or agave healthier? Is some meat okay? Just humanely raised meat? Should I go vegan? (I have articles to support all of the above opinions, and more, if you want them). It’s easy to feel confused and its even easier to feel guilty.
I love Caitlin’s definition of an ethical eater:
“ethical eating” means you strive to make educated decisions about your food choices and the impact such choices have on our community, animals, and our environment, and then you strive to reach the best conclusion for YOU…Because I believe that every positive effort you make is important and worthwhile.
At this point, I’m still a flexitarian (in other words, still eating meat). We just used up the last of our supermarket purchased ground turkey (which had been in our freezer for some time because I just don’t think to use meat anymore) and the plan is if we want to cook meat in the future, we’ll buy it from one of the local farms so we know where its coming from and how the animals were treated. But I don’t think that ethical eating is only about meat. There are so many other types of food that impact our health and our environment. We’ve stopped buying products with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I make things from scratch as much as possible and read ingredient labels. We rarely eat out, which helps us know as much as possible where our food is coming from. I try to make it to the CSA, farms and farmers markets regularly. Those are our choices, based on the conclusions we’ve made.
Caitlin goes on to say,
When I say that I am an “ethical eater,” I mean that I strive to understand WHERE my food comes from and the IMPACT that my choices have. That does NOT mean that I am perfect.
Well said. I too want to share what I’ve learned (hence the blog) and show other people that eating ethically isn’t as hard as they imagine, but (another Caitlin quote), “Mama Pea said it best when she said, “I think being militant about any lifestyle choice is one of the biggest deterrents to invoking change in others.””
For me, this issue of ethical eating also involves the purpose of eating. Food should be more than just about nutrients and health (though those are really important), it should be enjoyed and it should be a social event whenever possible (I’ve been reading Michael Pollan lately, maybe you can tell?). Therefore, I don’t want my eating decisions to make me unhappy or cause others to not want to spend time with me. Now, when I say I don’t want my decisions to make me unhappy, I don’t mean I’m going to eat whatever makes me feel good. Being overweight would not make me feel good. Knowing that the meat I’m consuming was mistreated does not make me feel good. Not knowing what’s in my food does not make me feel good. Taking on the vegetarian label (which I almost did a month or so ago) is taking on a lot of negative connotations and a lot of expectations. I’m not sure I want to do that. I’d rather just be that girl who loves to cook yummy food, and most of its pretty healthy too.
As Caitlin makes clear, eating ethically is a tricky thing, especially when everyone’s got their own definitions. I’m far from perfect, but as Food, Inc and many other sources note, we vote for what we want our food system to be like 3 times a day, but there are a lot of gray areas. I try to make the best decisions I can, but I’m a newlywed (or not…) on a budget, still learning to cook, just starting my teaching career (which is more work than you can imagine) and I’m not going to make myself insane trying to do all the “right things” at once. Change doesn’t have to happen over night and I’m making the best decisions I can for myself based on what I’ve learned so far.
I’ll echo Caitlin’s question here: What do you think of the ethical eating debate?