Last week I was so desperate for fresh produce, that in a moment of weakness I went to the grocery store and purchased a bunch of out of season produce shipped from great distance to Baltimore. I bought tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers and made myself a beautiful Israeli salad with feta cheese because I was craving it and I could. And- well- what can I say; good olive oil and decent feta is wasted on a salad that tastes like plastic. There's no way around the fact that out of season tomatoes bred for shelf life, produced in industrial systems and shipped half way across the world have very little in common with tomatoes grown with love and compost, picked from the garden and served up still warm from the sunshine.
My little salad breakdown made me think about food ethics and compromise and sustainability. I tend to not be dogmatic about my food ethics and will on occasion consume the stray piece of industrial meat or out of season produce if it falls onto my plate...although I generally regret it once I've done it. But I have friends who refuse to eat out of season produce, and I imagine they genuinely get the full enjoyment of eating their local seasonal fruits and veggies more so then those of us who compromise our ethics in favor of convenience and instant gratification.
My question to you is: to what degree are you willing to make sacrifices in service of keeping your food ethics? What does it mean to deny ourselves the instant gratification that is on offer all around us because we have ideals about how food should be produced? Or to spend more in order to buy food that is local, organic or sustainably grown?
I guess the question is the same for folks that keep kosher or halaal, who are vegan or vegetarian...but given that it's hard to draw any sort of meaningful connection between our individual food choices and the scale and darkness of our industrial food system; how important is it to live on canned tomatoes for 6 months of the year? How about to spend double to cost to get meat that was raised the way meat should be raised and never saw the inside of an industrial feedlot?
While I don't have any answers today I can tell you that when you know what the real thing should taste like...industrial veggies that only look like the real thing but taste like plastic just don't cut it!