While proctoring that midterm yesterday, I discussed eating and ecology via facebook with a cousin of mine. I brought up the idea of having Food Rules: some hard and fast things that, when shopping, you stick to but which can be forgiven when you go out to eat, as it’d be really hard to pursue. Though Mr. Pea and I don’t eat out a lot compared to many of our peers (we ate out on a weeknight this week and felt indulgent–then had lunch on the road today), we do like to try a variety of places, so, for example, the grass-finished beef burger place is one we can only frequent so often. Food rules, at any rate, would be good for my memory (I get confused with various reports on food, ecology, etc. routinely), my conscience, and help me make better decisions when overwhelmed at the store. And after reading in a couple of places (most notable, the New York Times) about the ways in which eating antibiotic filled meat make us more susceptible to diseases that resist antibiotics, I’ve decided to put that at the top of the list. So here we go.
1. All meats purchased must be free of unnecessary antibiotics and hormones. In an ideal world they’d all be happy, free-range animals once, but I can’t afford that just yet. I can compromise. Perdue, incidentally, does not use unnecessary antibiotics nor hormones in their chicken. Milk we already purchase free of those things. Ideally, we’d also find cheese, too, that’s hormone-free.
2. I will not buy vegetables conventionally grown nonlocally that are on the Dirty Dozen list. I say nonlocally because often local farms use sustainable methods, minor amounts of pesticide, and things like biodynamic farming but can’t afford organic certification. So this applies to the grocery store. Many veggies and fruits, especially this time of year, come from abroad. Most countries that sell us produce, from what I’ve heard, can use even more pesticides than American law permits as healthy. The dirty dozen includes: bell peppers, apples, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries and strawberries, celery, potatoes, and spinach. Currently we only make a point of buying organic apples; this week I made sure to get an organic pepper. From now on, once what we have is gone (ie, the sack of taters in the fridge), it’s all organic or locally grown.
4. Buy local milk. We buy ours from a CT dairy. Local dairies are really suffering right now for a variety of reasons, so supporting them means they’re happier and you get a fresher product.
5. Resist buying what I can make myself, especially at the grocery store. The cupcake from the bakery is ok, as that’s a little local business that needs support, and one shouldn’t have a dozen decadent cupcakes in the house, anyway. But mediocre cookies from Keebler? We haven’t bought those in ages, but sometimes crack under the pressure of grocery store apple pies when we’re feeling lazy.
I can’t think of anything else right now. I’m on day 4 of a mild cold and day 3 of my sleep being broken up multiple times by an eager cat, so I’m a bit zonked. Suggestions are always welcome!