We’re just over a week into our 40-day focus on Ethical Eating.  Many of us have picked specific actions to take for these forty days.  Here are some of our reflections:

Rob: Drinking Fair Trade Coffee
At the bagel shop this morning–which did not have fair trade coffee–I was thankful that I had already drank a cup of fair trade joe before I left home. I need to keep that in mind for the future if i’m going to eat somewhere else for breakfast. Fair trade coffee: don’t leave home without it!

Rowan: Saying Grace/Taking time to reflect on where my food comes from
The first couple days were really challenging for me. Five bites into eating, or worse–after I finished, I’d realize that I had forgotten to stop and gratefully reflect. I’d put down my fork and try and think about my food and where it came from. Though I’m passionate about food and food issues and could talk to you for an hour about bananas, the urgency of the moment made it difficult to think of anything meaningful. I decided to pick weekly themes to help me focus on different aspects of Ethical Eating, starting with a focus on labor.

I’ve gotten better at remembering to stop before I start eating, and the theme is really helping me focus. I can’t believe how many people it took to get me my breakfast cereal! All the people involved in saving and planting the seeds, growing/harvesting/storing the crops, processing/packaging/marketing the cereal, shipping/storage/selling the product, and not to mention all the people involved in making the packaging, logging the trees, designing the font, mining the materials to make the machinery, the fuel, etc. I’m done with my bowl of cereal before I could possibly think of everyone it took to get me this cereal (and the bowl, milk, and spoon). For their work, I am grateful. This increased awareness is pushing me toward buying simpler ingredients, in which I can know more about each step of the process.

Meg: Eliminating Cane Sugar
I’m doing it. The hardest was being at a long conference where all snacks involved sugar—luckily there was usually fruit, too. I’m proud of myself! It feels positive to do something with others. And I just made rhubarb with maple syrup—yum!

Nicole: Eating locally in Boston, MA
So, in that Murphy’s Law kind of way, I’ve found my first week difficult, but not unsuccessful overall. One issue has been that the official farmer’s market season doesn’t start till mid-May here in Boston; my first shipment of Boston Organics arrives only today, and I opted for the “Dogma Box,” which promises at least 8 locally-grown items in it (excitement!). But in the meantime it’s been hummus (local), some more fiddlehead ferns (not sure if I love or loathe them), locally made bread, eggs, butter, and locally grown tomatoes. And accidentally, some food at a restaurant that was not local (I’m becoming such a pain in the butt to my friends).

The other (personal-life issue) has been that I’ve been bumbling around with a herniated disc for almost week, making cooking, shopping, standing, and often-times consciousness kind of a bummer. I think I’ve had Ben & Jerry’s every single day since it started (it’s from Vermont, that’s within my challenge constraints at least).

Life on the go and/or life temporarily impaired/immobilized, makes it really tough to have convenience, variety, and locally produced foodstuffs in this challenge; can’t have it all, I suppose. Lugging around bags of food like a hermit crab (because they lug around bags of food, of course) is also a tough one. I’m seeing that my lifestyle choices (some by necessity, though) definitely impact the way I eat, and make this challenge all the more…challenging. At least it has me thinking (constantly).

Orelia: Humane & Sustainably-raised Meat
My resolution was to only eat meat that is locally produced and sustainably farmed. I got some great sausage at the farmers’ market last week, and I found myself talking to the vendors more than I would have otherwise about their animals and their farms. I’m privileged to live in an area where there are many farmers’ markets, and when I want to buy meat and can afford it, I have a lot of options.

I’m finding that in social situations, when I’m eating at an event or potluck, it feels uncomfortable to ask people where they got the meat that they used to prepare their dishes. In these situations, I will probably just tell people that I’m a vegetarian and deal with their confusion if and when they ever see me eating meat. Sometimes it works to share my resolution with people, and sometimes it feels less awkward if I keep it to myself. I know that I’m not doing this so that I can shout it from the mountaintops, I’m doing it because I think it’s a way that I can live sustainably that makes sense for me. My decision might not work for someone else whose geographic, health or economic situation differs from mine. After the past week, I feel more aware of the fact that others might have their own ways of living sustainably that are equally valid and meaningful for them.

Alida: Saying Grace
At the dinner table we now follow our routine moment of silence with spoken observations about the sources of our food, the workers who helped bring it to our table and the animals whose lives have been sacrificed for us. Last night we observed the cultural influences in the particular foods. Our 9 year old son is way into it. We give thanks for the “efforts and sacrifices that have made this food available for us”. It has really made us more aware and grateful. Good new practice!

About the Author
Rowan Van Ness

Comments

  1. Robert Murphy

    Environmental justice is a major concern for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth. We’re located on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. It’s a beautiful region and the congregation is very concerned about environmental protection. However, we’re also concerned about traditional social justice issues, including issues like affordable housing…. As a congregation,
    we try to bring everything together – we want justice and we want a healthy environment – and
    we make a special effort to work with other congregations…. At the end of the Earth Day season, we joined with seven other religious groups to raise money for the local food pantry
    and for overseas projects. The food pantry supports an organic community garden.

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