Full disclosure: I am, by and large, a pragmatist. At least in the sense that I recognize that there are situations or circumstances that were not of my making and that are of a scale and level of entrenchment that, whether I think they are A Good Thing or not, the chances of me changing the system is, as they say “Somewhere between slim and nil, and Slim just left town.”
Which is why I am able to deal with the occasional pang of psychic discomfort resulting from the origins of the food I eat – principally related to products of animal origin, but also with regard to the costs to the environment and society from the mass production of all kinds of foods including fruits and vegetables.
So I am an omnivore, but not necessarily proud of it. Let’s face it, the human race evolved to be omnivorous for a number of survival related reasons – opportunistic reasons, to be sure. After all, if you can survive on different types of food which vary in availability, you may have an advantage over other creatures which are tied to a highly specific diet – call it the “sole source effect”, to fall back on my experience working with supply chains in business. If you rely on a sole source of supply for a critical raw material or component used in producing your finished goods, and there’s an interruption to that source… it can get ugly pretty quickly. Trust me on this.
In fact, the diet that K and I live on tends to include much less animal-source protein than for a lot of North Americans. And since the time we lived in France – where a culture of using fresh, seasonal ingredients is supported by the existence of neighbourhood farm markets in urban areas, we’ve been eating seasonally as much as possible.
Fresh strawberries in January? Um, no thanks, we’ll wait until they’re in season and become plentiful, not to mention actually tasting like strawberries unlike the ones shipped a gazillion kilometres from a more hospitable climate to The Great White North that is Canada in the winter (or mid-April, sometimes… where we live, this past weekend was punctuated with near white-out conditions at times; fortunately, the snow that fell melted almost immediately on hitting the ground).
Another way we manage to eat locally grown produce in season is by belonging to a CSA (short for “Community Shared Agriculture” in Canada) – ours is the Ignatius Farm CSA, and the farm that it’s part of is certified organic, so the produce we get in our share of the harvest during the growing season is organically produced as well as being local. A big plus is that you get to know the farmers and the interns (our CSA has a strong internship and education focus). Supplementing what we get in our weekly share are the vegetables we grow in our rented organic garden plot – the community garden plots are also part of the Ignatius Farm.
Out of season, we have to buy produce from the supermarket – but even then, we try to choose based on what’s in season.
And then there’s the animal protein side of the ledger. As I said, K and I eat less (probably a lot less) of it than most North Americans – a good 2/3 of our suppers are vegetarian (it’s probably an even higher proportion during the summer while we’re getting the CSA share), and for those meals that do include meat K usually only uses about 300 g (10-ish ounces) in preparing them. And that’s shared between the two of us, generally with enough left over for me to have as a lunch – from what I’ve seen people put in their cart at the supermarket, I’d say a lot of them think that 300 g of meat would serve just one person and skimpily at that.
While it doesn’t make me especially happy knowing an animal gets killed in order to provide me with that meal, I also don’t dwell on it – that pragmatism thing, you know. Short of becoming breathairian, I know that something, whether it’s animal or vegetable, has to die in order to provide me with food to sustain my life. I didn’t make the rules, and so far I’m still pretty attached to the whole “living” thing which means I can, er, live with the knowledge and not lose sleep over it.
There you have it, a post to cover “O” as today’s letter for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Funny, all of a sudden, I feel hungry…