Tuesday, February 19, 2008

LOAFing Again

My attempts to become an ethically-responsible consumer have plateaued since the last update on my LOAF plan. I'm still doing a lot better than I used to, but also have some way to go to reach the level I would like to achieve. Reading Small is Still Beautiful has given me a nudge which I hope will tip me further in the OA direction - organic and animal-friendly. Schumacher-Pearce (where does one stop and the other begin?) waxes eloquent on the evils of industrial scale farming ... animals produced in "factories", genetically modified crops, oversized fields, narrow base of breeds and plant varieties, mechanically intensive, dehumanising, unhealthy ... the list goes on.

All my instincts agree. As the daughter of an old-style farmer, my personal experience of farming is grazing animals, traditional field rotations (crops ... grazing ... hay meadows), natural fertilizers (as a child I spent a lot of time up to my ankles in noxious substances!) and everything on a human scale. I know, on a deep level, that this is how farming should be. But these days, the only way such human, animal and environmentally friendly methods are economical is when they are used on organic farms that can charge a premium for their produce.

There is the rub. The price premium and the lure of cheap food. My heart and my conscience wants to buy organic. My budget doesn't. Which is why I have prevaricated. Yes, I get my organic fruit and veg boxes, and the occasional organic beefburgers or minced beef if they are on offer as a token nod in the direction of organic meat. But chicken? Ugh! The price of free range chicken is scary, and the price of organic chicken is enough to make me stick my head in the shopping trolley and sob!

How to square the circle? Budget more carefully, and eat less meat. This Lent I am eating vegetarian, and I am gradually increasing the number of vegetarian recipes in my repetoire.
While I don't intend to stay vegetarian after Easter, I can cut down the amount of meat I eat quite easily - if the budget will only run to organic meat for two-and-a-bit, I can eat a vegetarian option with Star. Also I have found a couple for new veggie recipes that Tevye enjoys, which I can use to cut down our meat requirements without leaving him feeling a deprived carnivore. Then squeezing out waste elsewhere will allow me to increase my meat budget. Hopefully between the two that circle can be squared.


Catherine said...

Funny, we are going through the same issues here, but without having read the book. I have started buying half organic and half "regular" produce and hope to increase it to all organic as our budget increases. We eat a LOT of fresh produce, so this is an important issue for us. My mom also ate a lot of fresh produce (not organic), and died of breast cancer at 61. Hmm.

Shari said...

Very thoughtful posting. I have been musing over your review of Small is Still Beautiful (a book on my short list to buy) and today you've taken it to a new level. How much are we willing to sacrifice for the cause? You have inspired me to do more not just complain more. Thank you!