Food with a conscience is something most of us want more and more. We visit the supermarket and try to think beyond what we want on our plate. Yes, we want healthy food, but we also want to know where the food comes from.
However, the more we have to buy, the more difficult it is to keep track of our good conscience. That’s why I’ve made up some rules of thumb for ‘food with a conscience’.
Straight from the field
When I lived at home with my parents this was totally different. We used to buy our food everyday. Most of the food was cultivated nearby. Now and then we went to a farmer to pick up food ourselves straight from the field.
I always very much enjoyed going to the shop and the farmer. My brothers and sister hated it. Often, I also spend time with my mother in the kitchen when she was preparing the food. When my sister left our home she could not even boil an egg. I was able to prepare a complete dinner.
The logistics of a proper meal
From early on this made me understand the importance of the logistics of a proper meal. You have to imagine the way back from the food on your plate to the farmer. And everything that comes in between.
You want your food to be fresh and warm when it goes from your plate into your mouth. From your kitchen onto your plate. From the shop into your kitchen. And from the farmer to the shop.
Sharpen your food conscience
Why is it important to know how the food got from the farmer to the shop? A friend of mine told me last he couldn’t care less. Yet, when you’re aware what the farmer had to do to get the food growing, to harvest it and get it at the shop, and this all just in time, you will respect the farmer much more, as well as the food.
Besides, you will be better able to understand what you can do with the food. How you have to clean and prepare it. This is also why you should always smell the fresh food you bought. Does it smell different when you cut it? And what about after you prepared it? This is a very simple way to sharpen your food conscience.
Another advantage, when you know where the food comes from and how it grows, is that you will be able to know what food to buy in the shop. It will also make you realize that shopping for food with a conscience is not something you can do unprepared. Or just by racing around the supermarket and throw the same stuff in your cart as last week.
You need to make a list with the things you want to prepare. Or, when you can only go shopping once a week, you need to think back in your mind which meals you want to prepare the coming week.
This is the more important when you have to watch your budget. Which might also influence your choice of supermarket or specialty shop. As well as how you go shopping. There was a time I went shopping with my bike once a week. I stopped doing this after I noticed that this was very dangerous. Other traffic participants never calculated the risks I was in.
When you’re budget is restricted, shopping for food with a conscience is even more of a challenge. Food prices have come down substantially in the past 25 to 50 years. However, with appalling consequences: loss of biodiversity, depleted soil, food without nutrients, etc. The current costs of food will at the most only take a fifth of your budget. Yet, the food you buy is responsible for half of all the environmental problems.
This is why we always buy organic food. Many people say that organic food is far too expensive. At the moment this is still true for about half of the organic foodstuff and mainly for fresh fruits. Organic onions, leek, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, all sorts of cabbages, even zucchini, eggplant, paprika, and cucumber, are as cheap as their regular versions.
Food with a conscience: rules of thumb
There are some rules of thumb when you want to buy food with a conscience:
- Eat before you step into the supermarket.
- Avoid plastic. “In the supermarket?” I hear you think, “Impossible!” There are however enough alternatives. Try food in cans or glass, when you buy prepared food. For fresh food this is way more difficult in the supermarket. This is another advantage of organic fruit and vegetable shops. They use paper bags. And Hannie made special nets that weigh nothing and are as good as paper bags.
- Buy as much organic as possible. Most supermarkets have organic departments at present.
- Use the smallest cart available. Seducing is an art that must have been invented by supermarkets. A small cart forces you to buy only essentials.
- Plan to avoid food waste. Make a list, on paper, in your mobile, or just in your head of what you need to prepare your meals, for one day, and most certainly for a whole week. Such a list is important, because last year the USA passed the 50% rate of food waste. Meaning that people threw away more than 50% of the food they bought.