Friday, September 24, 2010


I've been thinking a lot lately about what we eat and where it comes from.  As I mentioned only half jokingly in my last post, I had to buy asparagus for a recipe for my gourmet group and I struggled with that for a moment.  It's not in season.  Not by a long shot.  Where was it from?  Peru, I believe.  Never mind the hefty price tag. 

Not too long ago that asparagus wouldn't have even been a blip on my radar.  But thanks largely to those I've met on Twitter, I'm becoming more and more aware of how unsustainable our current food system is.  Yes, I used a buzzword.  I may even throw "locavore" into the mix (beyond just the book, which I whole heartedly recommend!).  Anyway, the passion of local foodies is contagious.  And it's not just about me anymore.  I have two wonderful children.  And a choice to make.  Do my husband and I raise them to simply make healthy choices in what they eat?  Or do we raise them to be aware of not only what they eat, but where it came from? 

Some wonder why it even matters.  But when I read about a woman who found a chicken head in her basket of wings in a Toronto restaurant, what struck me wasn't that she'd found a chicken part in her chicken parts (okay, it would be freaky, but not a total shock).  What struck me was that the chicken was from Brazil!  I would have never thought that meat being consumed in a Toronto restaurant would be from Brazil.  The U.S, maybe.  But a different continent altogether?  I've been somewhat sheltered, I guess.  When I saw a flyer from M&M meats earlier this year I was surprised to read that some of their beef is from New Zealand.

Maybe I'm naive.  I don't understand why we import things that we can and do grow and raise right here.  Why are there peaches from the U.S in stores during peach season?  Especially right here where tenderfruit is king?  Why are we exporting produce and meat that we're also importing at the same time?  Why don't we grow to feed our own first, and supplement with what we can't produce enough of, or cannot grow here after that?  The system looks broken to me.

I want to do what I can for my own family and community.  I just called the local butcher shop that we go to.  I wanted to know where the meat comes from.  It's not "local," but it is all Canadian.  I guess I feel better about that.  I think I'd go elsewhere if the meat were from the U.S.  Most of it is from Ontario, with a bit from Alberta, apparently.

I know that we can't afford 100% local, organic meat all the time.  But we buy it when we can.  And I know that I said I buy factory chickens.  Since that time though I've pretty much stopped buying grocery store meat.  Largely due to quality (or lack thereof) rather than conscience, though that is creeping in too.  But I'm still often buying it from a butcher who I am sure sells only factory farmed meat.  But at least I know it's Canadian.  Eating with ones conscience is a strange balance to try to keep. 

So that's where I'm at.  With knowledge comes responsibility, right?  Hence the reason I haven't watched movies like Food Inc yet.  I don't think I'm ready to take that step yet.  It feels like a bit of a leap from where I am.  But not as much of a leap as it was even a year ago.  Baby steps.

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