Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pescatarian, organic, macrobiotic…and the list of dietary adjectives goes on and on and on…yawn. Let’s not forget to add on top of all this, adjectives like “free-range,” “fair trade,” “sustainably harvested,” “ecoganic,” “biodynamic,” “locally-produced.” With all of these words, how can we not feel a bit confused? They all say something about the way we think and our ethics, but which one encompasses all of your values? Is it even possible?
When it comes to ethical eating, the first thing we I tend to think about is the manner in which things are farmed and their impact on the environment. The tricky thing with food is that you can’t separate its ethical components. There is no way, shape or form that you can separate health from the environment, animal rights, human rights, economics or politics. They are intertwined. Back in my early university days, I took an economics course. I loved it! (I am a bit of a geek, so I’m vulnerable to loving such things). Anyway, the bleeding heart in me started thinking about foreign markets, and countries that were worse off than my current country of residence (Canada at that time). So I thought that by purchasing certain foreign goods, I was doing a good thing by supporting less fortunate individuals (I was a much less complicated individual back then). Today, I would consider other things like “organic,” “fair trade,” and my food’s carbon footprint, forcing me to put that tin of lentils back on the shelf. It wasn’t “unethical” to want to support a foreign market, but the carbon footprint of that item may have been questionable.
I want to say this very loud and clear. Unless that carrot has come from your backyard, you will never EVER get it just right. Think of all the wallabies your veggie burgers took out as it made the trip up from Sydney. Do you see what I mean? You can’t be a purest when it comes to eating ethically because you’ll starve trying. Your ethical priority list will constantly change based on circumstance, education, and experience. There is not a “one size fits all” ethical code. Your ethical code is determined by YOU, your standards, and the resources available to you. I cannot even create a list of priorities for myself because I know that I cannot separate the health of my children from the health of the environment. Two days ago I chose local organic bananas from a local farmer, today I’m choosing “ecoganic” bananas from the supermarket. Today I won’t be releasing 12 kilometres worth of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but I won’t be supporting a local farmer, and there will be some pesticide on those red-tipped bananas. What’s important, I believe, is that we keep being mindful of our ethics, that we keep striving for better. Not a very smooth finish, but my head hurts 🙁
Time for something lighter! How about a recipe? It only has one ingredient, so I’m not sure if it actually counts as a recipe.
If there are two animal products that I have a total naughty spot for, it’s bacon and butter (not together, of course). As I am trying very hard to reduce the amount of animal products that I use in my house, I have decided to have a go at making some coconut butter today. Not a very difficult task. Coconut butter is the result of blending the bejeezus out of raw coconut flakes/chips. The coconut flesh and oils blend together and make a yummy butter. Apparently it tastes great on toast with a pinch of sea salt or drizzled over some berries. Well let’s see, shall we?
Step 1. Blitz the coconut flakes in the blender or food processor (or Thermomixer) until they can be blitzed no more. This can take anywhere from 2-10 minutes. Use as much as you like. Since you’re at it, might as well whip up a big batch. Here is the result:
As far as food mileage goes, both products fail miserably. One is from Sri Lanka and the other is from the Philippines. Both are organic, but the one on the left (Eco Food Organics) gave a better result and tasted HEAPS better. Coconut butter does not replace butter, but let’s not be too picky here. I think the biggest mistake we make when we try to replace animal products in our home is that we dismiss them or except them based on how close to the original they taste. If they don’t taste the same, we decide that it doesn’t taste good. There’s another adjective that you could assign to this, and that is different. Your food tasted different, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing or a no-thing. The coconut butter did NOT replace the taste of dairy butter, but it was different, it was pleasant, and it was nice. Keep an open mind. Except with soy milk or tempeh…yuck! 😛
Have a lovely weekend xx