The Ethics Of Food

When you sit down to your evening meal, it’s unlikely that you take a moment to think about where the food has come from. We have all become accustomed to having what we need, when we need it, from gluten-free options to low-carb keto-friendly recipes. We can eat strawberries in January and exotic fruit from the other side of the world, such are the delights of the modern diet options.

While you should always enjoy your food, it is worth spending a moment thinking about the ethics behind how we eat. There tends to be a price — sometimes financial, sometimes environmental — for everything that hits our plate. Sometimes, that price can be extortionately high, and one you might not be willing to pay if you know the extent of it.

Below are three examples of the ethical questions surrounding modern food, and how you can make small changes to address some of the issues raised.

#1 – Fair Trade Food

For third-world countries, globalization has meant that there are more work opportunities than there might otherwise have been. However, it’s wrong to assume that the citizens of these countries are in work that pays well and supports their living. Sadly, multinational corporations have a terrible history of exploiting their third-world workers in an attempt to boost their profit margins.

The Fair Trade movement is an effort to combat this issue. Farmers who work within Fair Trade practices are paid a fair wage, one that is enough for them to live a decent life on. If you’re curious to see how this works, you can find out more about the Fair Trade movement at fairtradecertified.org.

One note: Fair Trade food is a little more expensive than non-Fair Trade items, but the difference is relatively small– and can make a huge difference to the lives of farmers around the world.

#2 – Overfishing

Overfishing is becoming a huge problem throughout the world. Fish are being caught at such a rate that the declining populations don’t have the chance to reproduce and replace.

Companies who produce fresh and tinned fish are well aware of this issue. That’s why some companies have banded together to try and increase sustainability in their offerings. If you’re curious about these programs, then visit globalsalmoninitiative.org for more information on one of the leaders in this area, and see the difference these initiatives can make.

You could then put that knowledge into practice, and ensure that you’re always

#3 – Food Miles

Being able to eat any food you want at any point in the year is wonderful, but there’s a serious downside when it comes to the carbon footprint of that food.

Out-of-season and exotic fruit has to travel a huge distance to reach our stores, as it can’t be farmed naturally in the US. All of that travel is catastrophic for the environment, which is then made worse by the sheer volume of food waste the world creates.

It’s far better for the environment if you stick to locally-grown produce. Yes, you will be restricted to fruit and vegetables that are in season, but it can be fun to branch out and see the meals you can create with only local goods.

As it turns out, the food that goes onto your plate and the process is went through to get there is more complex than you might have originally thought. With a few small changes, you can be sure that you’re eating as ethically and sustainably as possible.

Gluten Deprivation Project: Day 17

gluten photoI know at least one of you is eagerly waiting, with baited breath, on the edge of your seat, for the latest goings on of my endeavor into the land of the glutenless. I haven’t posted any updates on this since what…day two? Wow. Sorry about that. I am on day 17 now!

The struggle has been real, yo. On day 3, I came down with a nasty cold that laid me out for a few days. Still, I gluten-freed my way through it. However, that was right when Rachael came down with the same thing. Not a good introduction to a potential lifestyle change, but we survived, looking forward to the positive changes to come.

The Positives

I will recap the positives first. We found that Asheville has a lot to offer the gluten-freers of the world. Not only do the grocery stores help out with options and signage (Earth Fare in particular, for most options in one place, Ingles for signage), there are restaurants that have large amounts of GF options on the menu. One in particular, King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles, even has a separate GF frier. We’ve been back twice to get the hankering for fried food satisfied.

After too many trips to the grocery store, we finally found some things that were not too bad, including the Udi’s pizzas, Glutenfreeda burritos, and Glutina crackers.

Rachael also came up with some good recipes that we tried. I got into weekend omelette making as well. Hash browns and bacon pulled me through.

As for beers, I found that Omission was the best option for something close to a decent IPA. My GF work buddy informed me PBR is close enough to GF to count too (way under 20 parts per million). Still, being in Beer City, USA, I have missed my favorite craft brews for sure. (Foreshadowing: Dale and Shiva, I’m coming home!)

Other positives include:

  • I am pooping regularly, like a champ (probably because I’ve been eating a lot of pumpkin and sesame seeds as snacks).
  • Uh, that is all.

Which brings me to…

The Negatives

I have found myself wanting to cave on this effort more than once. The main reasons I got into this were to see if all the benefits I’ve heard about going gluten free would work for me. I was hoping to lose a few pounds, see some improved skin/complexion, feel less fatigued, and most importantly, see a reduction in arthritic symptoms I tend to have in my hands and wrists.

Sadly, none of those things have shown any sign of coming to fruition.

So, I have decided that this blog update will also serve as my official notice that I am going back to gluten! I am definitely more aware of how much gluten I was used to in my life before this effort, but I see no reason to avoid it any longer — with the exception being overly-processed white-bready types of things. Those, I will stay away from as much as possible. It will be my homage to the Great Gluten Deprivation Project of 2015.

Let’s go have a beer and a burger!

Photo by Whatsername?

Gluten Deprivation Project: Day 1

Get it without the bun. Boom: gluten-free.

Get it without the bun. Boom: gluten-free.

[Note:  The comment system has been fixed!]

Today was the first day of this experiment, and it didn’t take long for me to realize how much my routine is going to be altered by not eating gluten for one month. I kept realizing that I couldn’t do the things I was used to: grabbing a cereal bar to take with me, nibbling on cheese crackers as an afternoon snack. More importantly, enjoying the many fine selections of beers available here in Beer City, USA.

Luckily, I did learn that there are gluten-free craft beer options around Asheville, though I have yet to try them. However, I also learned that PBR and Coronas have little enough gluten in them to be considered GF.

The guys at work announced they were hitting Burgerworx for lunch today, and urged me to join them. Even though I brought the carrot and tuna salad lunch that Rachael so kindly packed me last night, I decided to keep it in the work fridge and go along with them today, mainly because I was curious about being a normal citizen while attempting this gluten-free thing.

Not having a gluten-free bun option, I ordered a burger with no bun. Luckily, I didn’t need to hold back on toppings, so some chipotle ketchup with grilled onions and cheese made it quite delicious.

For dinner, I ate a rather bland GF frozen pizza from Trader Joe’s. It wasn’t the most stellar thing, but it was edible. Having stopped for chocolate on the way home from work, I knew a little reward awaited me, so I took solace in Mr. Goodbar. And he was indeed good.

TL;DR:  It’s only day one, and I have survived. I don’t feel any different. There is gluten-free beer.

The Gluten Deprivation Project

glutenStarting tomorrow, the 19th of October, Rachael and I are going to start a one-month gluten-free diet. Affectionately termed the Gluten Deprivation Project, it will be a journey in learning to change the way I eat. I am looking forward to it much the way I look forward to a tooth filling.

I figured that, as a guy who has typically been resistant towards these types of Earthy diets and lifestyle changes, I’d blog about my experiences here.

If you are a dude who enjoys things such as po-boys, burgers, and beer, you might find this interesting. You might find it interesting anyway. Or not.

And now, for something completely different…