Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What You Eat Can Be Political

Both of my children are vegetarians. Teenage Daughter sat at the dinner table five or so years ago with roast chicken on her fork, looked at it, said, "This used to be alive" and promptly burst into tears. She hasn't eaten meat since. Teenage Son followed about three years ago. I have to admit I didn't expect him to continue; I thought he was just jumping on his sister's bandwagon. He's hit that stage in his growth where he'll eat anything that's not tied down; anything except meat. Credit where credit is due.

I became a vegetarian when I was nineteen. In the nearly - but not quite - thirty years since, I've been a vegetarian, eaten only fish and eaten fish and chicken. These days I do the latter so I'm definitely not a vegetarian. Husband eats everything. He called from interstate the other night to proudly tell me he was going to cook his first ever steak. Ick. Better there than here.

These days Teenage Daughter is well educated on vegetarianism. She told me the other day that more carbon emissions could be prevented by someone eating a vegetarian diet for a year than giving up driving a car for the same period. Food for thought - pun intended.

The other day I blogged about the Slow Movement and about what we eat. I didn't really touch on the politics of it, however. We definitely eat out and get take-away. Teenage Daughter works in a family owned and run Chinese restaurant. Most of our dining and take-away is at or from there. The food is fresh and tasty and there is something for all of us on the menu. Eating in there is an exercise in Slow Living! I like that now that I'm used to it. Occasionally Husband and I buy chicken and chips from a local business.

These days we've almost entirely ditched chain and franchise dining. Speaking for myself that has been a conscious choice. Sometimes I meet friends for coffee or lunch and try where possible to choose, not only independent places but ones that use locally grown products. One I particularly like is The Organic Market and Cafe. I got caught out and about the other day; I had expected to be home for lunch but was still in the thick of running errands. I happened to be in a local bakery so I ate there. It wasn't the healthiest of lunches (a vegetarian pasty) but it wasn't the golden arches.

The large fast food chains concern me. I don't know who runs them, what's in their 'meals' and where the ingredients come from. I don't know where their profits go and I don't know what corners they cut to ensure those profits. I don't know what impact all that food growth and production is having on the environment. I don't know what the long term consequences of regular 'dining' there will have on our health as a community but I know it won't be good. The fact that they promote themselves as family friendly is particularly scary. I have similar issues with pre-prepared supermarket meals for the same reasons. I get that people are busy and that I'm lucky to be at home during the day. I also get that convenience and fast food manufacturers are playing on the fact that people are busy.

I'm off now to make some lunch!



  1. Hi Rachel,
    I visited Japan for 11 days a few years ago and was surprised by some aspects of what I observed in that limited time. For example, there was a lot of food available to buy from supermarkets, that was pre-prepared and heavily packaged, needing only to be unwrapped and heated, before consumption. It seemed to be prepared onsite. I'd been told that it was customary to shop frequently (daily) for small quantities in Japan - not sure what this was a manifestation of... I wasn't sure whether this was to cater for people too frail or too busy or too what, to cook for themselves? At the same supermarkets there were photographs on posters hung above every fresh produce bin, displaying for all to see the real people - local farmers - who were responsible for growing and marketing these fresh, in season, delicious things. Yet I have no idea who owned that particular supermarket, whether it was a chain, or a franchise, and where the money was going. The point I guess I'm trying to make is that I agree - it's very hard to be aware and to act upon the plethora of information. Making the "right" choices is not at all straightforward.

  2. Hi Melina
    Part of the reason for the frequent shopping and prepared meals in Japan - in the large cities, at least - is space. People live in small places and don't have room to store much food.