I'm easing into this whole self-examination thing:
For a few years now, I have been increasingly pursuing what I call "ethical eating." I'm not sure where I came up with the term because it's not something I hear often, so I did what any reasonable person does when curious about something, I Googled it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Unitarian Universalist Association seems to have coined the term and is running with it! I must be slacking in my UUness!
So, before I go on with my own food-related babbling, if you're at all interested in Ethical Eating, please check out the UUA's Ethical Eating website. It includes an awesome, in-depth booklet on all aspects of ethical eating, from world hunger and climate change, to animal rights and trade and labor. I am soooo excited to have found it. Seriously, check out the booklet.
ANYWAY, I've been pursuing ethical eating more and more for a while now. It fits perfectly hand in hand with my constant drive to eat as healthy a diet as I can manage (and foist said diet onto my family). Ever since my very first Anthropology class, oh so many years ago (like, *gasp* 9 or something), I've tried to eat in a more anthropologically based manner – meaning mainly veggies with the other food groups thrown in in smaller proportions and everything eaten seasonally. Obviously, I'm not SUPER anthro about it. I don't eat everything raw. I do eat a number of foods that are changed from the way ancient humans would have eaten them (like cheese. Mmmmmm cheese). And for as much as I try to stay seasonal, I just can't pull it off all the time. And let's face it, there are a lot of benefits to the way things are done today. Like sanitation and not half starving during the winter.
We have been getting better and better at it, and many of my health goals go hand in hand with my ethics goals. Trying to avoid pesticides and eat seasonally brings us to local farmer's markets. We were going every single week until just before the holidays. We've planted our own veggie garden and are looking forward to expanding it A LOT this spring. I try to incorporate veggies into every single meal we eat, including breakfast. I don't always succeed with breakfast, but I don't think we've had a dinner that didn't include veggies in months and months. Probably years. Meh, that's probably an exaggeration. I'm sure nuggets and fries have wormed their way in there somewhere, though now when we do fast food, it's a sub place 95% of the time, and at a sit down place Punky is required to get a veggie side. Fries is NOT a vegetable.
To the greatest extent possible, we buy organic, local, Fair Trade, and Equal Exchange. I am super excited to have discovered a World Market nearby with a huge selection of organic, Fair Trade, and Equal Exchange coffees and teas, and even a number of organic wines. We've also started drinking a lot of Fetzer wine – produced sustainably and often from organic grapes.
Then we come to the animal issues. I have been pushing more and more towards becoming a vegetarian. First, I stopped buying any factory produced meat. We buy local meat from the farmer's market that we know is humanely treated. But I was still ordering meat when I went out to eat then feeling guilty about it. So I finally had a talk with myself over what is more important my love of southern BBQ or the lives of the animals tortured to make it. I haven't ordered meat at a restaurant since. It's been about 2 months. Seeing me make that jump (and Punky following me, surprisingly giving up her beloved chicken tenders for pasta marinara when we eat out), MacGyver has joined in.
He has been on board with not buying factory meat from the beginning, but he was balking at the idea of cutting out some things (read: bacon – we still haven't found a local pork farmer). But a few days ago I was happily surprised when he proposed that we go fully vegetarian on weekdays. (Really, that's not much of a change since whenever I cook or shop its vegetarian anyway and if MacGyver is cooking I usually shop and vice versa – I swear that makes sense). So our entire family is officially vegetarian 72% of the time. And I'm vegetarian even more than that.
We've also been getting our eggs from some friends of ours who keep chickens. There are seriously NO really ethical egg companies that provide eggs to common grocery stores. The stuff they do in the egg factories is completely and utterly sickening. This was recently reinforced to me by this article in The Animals' Advocate, the journal of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, of which I am a member and HUGE fan. Please read it if you eat eggs.
We eat a lot of eggs, especially since the vegetarian leap, and are so grateful to have found someone to get them from. MacGyver is currently planning on getting us some chickens of our own.
And that's where I currently stand nutritionally and in my ethical eating journey. I have a way to go yet, but am super happy with where I am now, nonetheless.
If you thought this post was long, wait until you see the one on my post-baby body . . .