Thursday, July 24, 2008

Food Ethics Meet Poor College Student

In the beginning of May, in the death-grip of finals, I decided to make a major lifestyle change. After reading Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I came to the realization that I could no longer ignore the way I felt about where my food came from, and went from a girl who ate meat whenever she got the chance to a kind of pseudo-vegan.
I found I could no longer justify eating meat or animal products that were not obtained humanely, and made the switch to free-range meat. I don’t include “free-range” products from grocery stores, like Whole Foods, simply because I feel that label is not telling the whole truth. The problem with making this switch is that I can rarely afford the free-range meats and other animal products at the Union Square Greenmarket, and so I ended up as a sort-of-vegan by default.

So let's detail how this process works for me.

1. Meats and animal products must be humanely raised, free range, preferably organic.
2. Eat local.
3. Eat fresh.

But most importantly -
4. Do the best you can.

What do I mean by that? I can't always abide by my own creed. For one, I never want people to feel uncomfortable because of the way I choose to eat. If I am out with friends and there is no vegan option, I do the best I can. Also, I need to have yogurt every morning because of a chronic health problem (probiotics have done great things for my urinary tract!). I try to buy it from the Greenmarket when I can afford it, but $7 is a lot for a container of yogurt. Otherwise I go organic, like Stonyfield's.
Sometimes there is a conflict in the rules. In trying to be careful about the meat I eat, I turn to vegan options in the freezer and find even less fresh options there - they are riddled with ingredient names that even a person who has taken organic chemistry, like me, can't identify.
And sometimes I have to give in. Like that meal above, with the slices of fresh mozzarella. Or a certain carton of Ben & Jerry's frozen yogurt that always makes its way into my freezer. When I go to New Jersey do I turn my nose up at a fat sandwich made with Steak'Ums and mozzarella sticks? Oh, hell no.

It may not be a perfect way of eating, but I'm proud of the changes I've made in my life. Not only do I feel like a socially conscious eater, I also feel a hell of a lot healthier. And there's nothing imperfect about that.


Kristin said...

Steak'Ums and mozz sticks? Oh man, you made my dieting tummy hungry. Haha. AND FINALLY AN UPDATE! YAY!

Laurie said...

Sounds a lot like my diet, except that I have been falling off the wagon a lot and now my cholesterol is high. So, I'll rephrase: sounds a lot like my diet refined.

casey said...

Kristin - Hopefully I will have more for you in the upcoming weeks.

Laurie - Hah! I know what you mean, though. It seems my diet goes out the window almost every weekend. I had fried dough and a chocolate covered banana, as well as a massive grilled cheese. Carnivals will do that.

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