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Friday, December 17, 2010

Food Guilt

Unlike 90%* of American consumers, I think about what goes into the food I eat. I notice the mono and diglycerides, the modified corn starch, the sodium stearoyl lactylate, and the partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

As a fallen vegan, I notice animal products on the label. My informed children make their own choices on the marshmallow question—Dylann, at six, abstains ethical grounds, while Robin, at three, says they're "sad, but delicious." I drink milk and cream from the neighbor's cow and goat milk from my own two does. I also consume store-bought dairy products, but not without a moral burden. I realize that it's the wrong thing for me, with my position on animal welfare, to do. I would like to stop.

In a perfect world, I would like to cook from scratch. Grow my own. Avoid all animal products except those raised in my very own yard, produced by happy, healthy animals, and produced in a system where all male offspring of said animals could end up in happy pet homes. It's not a viable solution for many, but it could be within reach for me.

Parents, what do you do when you've gradually slid into the habit of feeding your children tinned peaches and Annie's mac 'n' cheese? How do you retrain palates that have been introduced to Krispy Kreme donuts and A&W floats? How do you convince your kids that eating with the seasons really does mean no strawberries in December? 

I still have dietary restrictions. I haven't eaten red meat since 1987, and I won't eat a bird again once I finish the sad obligation of eating the 20 home-grown chickens in my freezer. That was an experiment in meat-eating that failed, personally, for me. It just doesn't feel right. I don't eat produce from outside the US, save the occasional B.C. grown-tomato or imported avocado (my weakness). I praise my children for their vegetarianism, and feel grateful that my two littlest ones avoid (non-fish) meat completely.

I would like to say that I won't eat dairy again, unless it's produced by my own very happy goats. I would like to say that I will never touch a soy- or corn- byproduct with a ten foot pole, and that all of my food will be grown in or around this productive valley. I would like to say that my children, my animals and I will eat locally, sustainably, organically, seasonally, and ethically. From experience, I can tell you that those would be false promises. Perhaps, in this season of resolutions, I should say this: I will think about what I'm buying. I will think about it with less guilt and more self-empowerment—not in terms of blaming myself for each choice, but in terms of thanking myself for each choice. I will take credit, in my own mind, for what I do RIGHT. Perhaps my right choices will snowball, and I'll find myself eating without guilt. 

M

*not a real statistic—just pulled this one out of thin air

3 comments:

  1. I really like your thoughts and concerns. I hear you. I have the same dilemma because I cook for people with no concerns and have to please their palates. I think about what I buy and am sad that that's all I can do.

    My other concern is the use of plastic. I think it can be very harmful to keep food in and wish there was some other, safer packaging material.

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  2. No kids yet, but I do have a picky husband. I'm also not remotely a vegan, but I think we share concern and contemplativeness about our food sources and choices. When I buy crap food, I feel like crap, and I think my husband does too. That's what keeps me on the straight and narrow - I want to feel good. It's so much easier to call Dominos than to think of what to cook, yet again - but Dominos is crap food, made from crap ingredients, and it makes me feel physically and mentally icky to eat it. Do you feel better when you eat right? Remember that :)

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Thanks in Advance for Your Mulish Opinion!

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