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Can someone love food and still love the earth?

By on Aug 16th

Melanie asks:


This guy is fattening up this adorable bunny in order to eat it.

I am getting my first apartment in a week, and one of the biggest issues I have is food… I love it! I love vegetables and fruit and meat and fish and bread and… and food! I love food!

That said, I just recently became interested in where my food comes from. I am willing to be more responsible about what I buy, but from what I've read, grass-fed beef does not always mean humane, Dole bananas are picked by slaves, tomatoes are killing the earth with pesticides, and milk is made by abusing dairy cows.

So what I'm asking is: what's fact and what's fiction, and what can I do!? I feel like I can't eat anything without feeling guilty about it! Can someone love food and love the earth?

Oh honey, you have come to the right place. It seems you are experiencing your first pangs of conscientious guilt, and I feel you. I love food, too. Just about every time I sit down to eat, I feel as though I've never eaten such delicious fare in my life. I mmm and homnom and look at my food as if it is a long lost lover. And TRYING new food! It's all so good.

The thing about any diet is: you are disrupting something to get your food. We are not ethereal beings whose planet creates wisps of wheat for our enjoyment and nourishment. We are animals. We kill or we harvest and we poop it back out. It's the ciiiiircle of liiiiiiife. It moves us all!

What I'm saying is, even though Timon and Pumbaa didn't rip out the throats of antelopes, they still ate bugs. If there were, say, 7 billion Timons or Pumbaas, they'd have trouble providing bugs to all the members of their species and not using up all their resources, too.

That you want to make responsible decisions about what you eat is commendable. In the first world we live in a horn-o-plenty, and it can be hard to say, "I believe that the efforts of one person are measurable, and that it will make a difference if I do not eat X, even though it is readily available to me." Here is my advice:

If this issue is important to you, learn as much as you can about it. It will help you compartmentalize what's important to you, what isn't, and what changes you can handle making at this point in your life. A good resource for those getting started in conscientious diets is Omnivore's Dilemma and also Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, both by Michael Pollan.

I'mma be honest: I haven't read either book — though I did get blitzed at a party one night, discuss Omnivore's Dilemma with a friend, and wake up the next morning having declared myself a vegetarian. These books come up again and again as good resources for people questioning what they should eat. My friends love them, and I've heard interviews with Pollan which have lent insight into my own dietary choices. His books might help you get started down the complicated road of food choosing.

Homies, how do you weigh in on the foodie-with-guilt issue? What have you learned in making your own dietary choices?

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