Ethical eating

One of my pet concerns is food — eating ethically, being aware of where you food comes from, not harming the earth as much as possible, paying respect to the animals that provide us with sustenance, etc. I’m always on a quest to eat as healthily, and sustainably, as I can.

Given the fact that I live in Brooklyn within walking distance to good restaurants, farmstands, and supermarkets should make it easy. But we get caught up in our lives. We fall into thoughtless routines. We sometimes forget about the things we find important.

Thankfully, there’s the Ethicurean. Check out this excerpt from an email from Bonnie P., a writer on the site, to a visitor:

It’s not hard to eat ethically, but it does involve doing some legwork. You need to know what your values are, and if you are not buying directly from the farmers, what exactly the labels on food mean. Everyone has their own set of ethics that they may prioritize slightly differently. Maybe you want to help rebuild local-food infrastructure, and support drought-stricken Aussie farmers, so you would choose local non-organic produce over certified organic produce from far away. Or you think it is immoral to treat sentient beings such as pigs as if they are mere protein widgets in a massive factory: you would then eat only pork from pigs raised outside, with room to engage in natural behaviors. Perhaps you think its unethical to eat animals at all: it’s easier than ever to be vegetarian. Maybe you are concerned about the effects of pesticides and herbicides on the environment and on farmworkers’ health, even those far away: you would stick to certified organic produce.

And if you are concerned about ALL those things — like we are — you can start by avoiding processed food, factory meat, genetically modified food, and chemically dependent crops. Then start educating yourself: talk to the people who grow the food you are buying and ask them why they do it the way they do. If you can’t buy direct from the farm, then make sure you understand what supermarket labels like “organic” and “free range” and “natural” mean. They often don’t cover the things you think they do: for example organic beef in the U.S. can be raised in a feedlot on a diet of organic grain, rather than out in pasture eating grass as much as the climate and season allow. Some “humanely raised” labels allow beak clipping for chickens and tail docking for pigs.

Thanks for the reminder, Bonnie P!

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