“Ethics is about the basic choices we ought to make in our lives and one of those choices is how do we spend our money?” Peter Singer
Welcome to our 3rd annual food issue! We generally think of what we eat as a very personal matter, but what about how we are getting our food?
I recently saw a video clip about a French supermarket chain that started buying all the misshapen and discarded produce from their suppliers. They marketed these “ugly” fruits and veggies by preparing soups and juices to prove to their customers that “ugly” doesn’t necessarily mean less delicious. It was a success, both financially for the company, but more importantly, in cutting down on food waste. According to the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology consumers in North America and Europe waste about 209 to 253 pounds of food per person every year and “Appearance Quality Standards” can cause human-grade food to be used as animal feed or waste because, say, a carrot curves a little bit more than a supermarket finds desirable.
In June , Germany ’s first packaging-free supermarket opened it’s doors. Original Unverpackt will sell food largely sourced from local suppliers as a means of reducing transportation costs and pollution. The products are then sold in bulk using gravity bins (upside-down containers with a lever where the user can decide exactly how much they need). Customers will bring their own containers to take the produce away, borrow reusable containers from the store or use bags made from recycled paper. One of the things I love most about my life in Mexico is how close my food is to the earth. The other day I bought a bunch of swiss chard and a few mushrooms (still covered in dirt!) from my local vegetable seller. When I got home I made a delicious meal with the following, that despite my black thumb, has managed to grown in my garden; limes, purslane, chepil, habanero chiles, pitiona, basil and tomatoes. YUM!
The best food I have ever had, whether a taco on the street or at a Michelin starred restaurant, has had one thing in commonfood that is close to it’s source! I would go so far as to say that while what we choose to eat is still personal, our food choices have definitely become political. It is no longer enough to bring reusable bags when we drive to the heavily air conditioned superstore to buy organic granola.
There is no better time than summer to start shopping at farmer’s markets, which should be easy since the number of farmer’s markets in Canada and the US has quadrupled in the last 15 years. Also look for independently owned businesses or ones that are closely tied to your community. Check online to find out about your favorite brands; where do they source their food from, how do they treat the people that work for them, are they socially responsible?
While what we eat is a personal matter, the corporatization of our food source requires that we make informed choices. We need to make choices that will take us from consumerism to sustainability and by making better choices for ourselves, we end up helping each other.
See you next month,