Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Food Math

One of the comments made on the Day to Day story regarding green restaurants really stuck with me.

"Okay, so the calculus of sustainability is complicated"

I couldn't agree more. I have an unhealthy addiction to non-fiction books - I just finished Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry by Dan Hurley (review to come in a future post) and am in the middle of both Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich. The problem is that, aside from feeling like a bit of a freak for reading all these random books, the more I learn, the harder it is to make good choices, and the more complex the calculus gets. Since most of the non-fiction I read is food related, let me write out just a partial list of the things I have to consider when deciding what to eat:
  1. Is it locally grown or raised?
  2. Is it organic, or fed organic food?
  3. Is it sustainably grown or raised?
  4. If it's an animal, is it free range?
  5. Was it killed humanely?
  6. Was it raised in an eco-conscious manner?
  7. Was it allowed to live and eat the way that it would naturally have done?
  8. Are the workers who picked the food or raised the animals paid a sustainable wage?
  9. Are the workers given health insurance and benefits?
  10. Are the workers who sell the food and manage the people who sell the food well-paid and not laid off for being too old or making too high of a salary?
  11. Is it packaged in an environmentally friendly way?
  12. Is it packaged in a material that might leech into the food?
  13. Is it low in fat and calories?
  14. Is it high in vitamins and minerals?
  15. If it's enriched with vitamins and minerals, does it actually contain the amount that it says it does, and if so is that too much?

I could go on, but you get the point. By the time I get to "does it actually taste good?" I'm so worn out I almost don't care. And I actually like calculus - I can't imagine what would happen to someone who didn't!


Andy said...

Here are my food questions:

Am I eating alone?
How much time do I have?
How much money do I have?
Does it taste good?

If eating with someone else...

Am I picking up the bill?
Do I like these people?

Joy to the World said...

I know exactly what you mean about food. To me, food considerations come in two catigories: Is this food healthy for me? Is this food healthy for the greater picture? In the end, I think we should all remember WWII, and grow victory gardens. It's local, it's sustainable, and I know the workers were treated well ;)