I'm really keen to go and see the new film Food, Inc; but I'm scared.
Already, ethical eating creates a bit of a death match challenge for me. It's a juggle between the environment, our health, and the budget, and when one wins, another usually loses.
For example, a can of organic tomatoes is pretty cheap these days: (win: BUDGET and HEALTH) but they are bottled in Italy (lose: ENVIRONMENT.) Etc, etc, etc....
I try and really limit our processed food. I bake our bread and cook from scratch most of the time. I'd like to make more: the muesli, the mayo, the jam, the pasta... but it doesn't happen enough. I dream of a kitchen garden like Jamie's:
...but growing our own is not an option yet. Apart from the small detail of being a crap gardener, by the end of the day I am happy to have kept the family alive and watered, let alone the vegies too.
We're not vegetarians (lose: ENVIRONMENT), and increasingly I struggle to buy meat that I feel OK about. I worry about factory farming, but organic meat is usually really expensive. So we eat free-range chicken, and when we eat red meat, it's usually lamb (which is more likely to be pasture- raised, I've been told.) Sometimes I buy hormone-free,pasture-fed happy-lamb from a nearby butcher who also stocks preservative-free bacon (win: HEALTH, lose: BUDGET.) Really, I'd like to buy a deep-freeze and purchase half a happy-lamb at a time, but Keith's not keen because of the energy cost of running another big appliance (win: HEALTH, lose: ENVIRONMENT.)
We often get a weekly box of veges from the organic co-op (win: HEALTH), grown ata local community farm (win: ENVIRONMENT) but it is expensive (lose: BUDGET) and the quality isn't that great. I've tried the fruit box (win: HEALTH, lose: BUDGET) ) but I'm not sure how to feed a family of four on seven grapes and half a pomegranate. Plus sometimes I can't be arsed putting together something witty with daikon radish and kale. I just want to watch Masterchef and eat a rissole, dammit! There's a local fruit and veg that is fantastic and so cheap (win: BUDGET, ) but the veges are conventionally grown (lose: ENVIRONMENT and HEALTH.) I feel really worried about pesticides and other interference with our food.
Can you even imagine what future research may discover we are doing to our physiology with the amount of pesticides, chemical-enhancers and GMO technologies used to make our food visually appealing, long-lasting and full o' flavour (TM)? It's only over the last two or so generations that it has become so normal, in the West, for us to eat so much processed, modified and out-of-season food. I hate to put on my crazy hat (it's made of foil and it has flaps) but asthma? autism? peanut allergies? ...could it be...?
Recently, Mamamia printed a useful list of 12 top and 15 worst pesticide-affected vegetables - a good one to print and clip for the wallet, I think, when judging purchases and planning menus.
Chocolate's another one. Personally, I count it as a food group, but can I enjoy it any more? No. It's only bloody grown using child slave labour. There is, luckily, a Fair Trade line from Cadbury that's stocked in the big supermarkets.
Sometimes a little information is a dangerous thing. Looking at a trolley next to me stocked with potato chips and processed cheese, obviously the groceries of a woman without a raised food consciousness, I feel the little voice inside me whisper. It's not judging though. No, it's saying 'Oh, you lucky cow.'