"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:
- Is it locally grown or raised?
- Is it organic, or fed organic food?
- Is it sustainably grown or raised?
- If it's an animal, is it free range?
- Was it killed humanely?
- Was it raised in an eco-conscious manner?
- Was it allowed to live and eat the way that it would naturally have done?
- Are the workers who picked the food or raised the animals paid a sustainable wage?
- Are the workers given health insurance and benefits?
- 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?
- Is it packaged in an environmentally friendly way?
- Is it packaged in a material that might leech into the food?
- Is it low in fat and calories?
- Is it high in vitamins and minerals?
- 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!