I'm going grocery shopping in an hour at the local "they've got EVERYTHING" grocery/department store, Fred Meyer, and for once I see exactly how I have to act. I've got to clarify my own food ethics and then see if I can live by them today.
Quick backstory: Any interview with Michael Pollan's going to be a good interview. So what could he possibly have to say about The Compassionate Instinct? Absolutely nothing. The fact that the editors put this interview into this particular book shows their utter lack of relevant content.
And yet: This piece struck me as more enjoyable and action-inspiring than virtually anything else in the book so far. Why? Michael Pollan knows his complex topic - food systems and how choosing our food relates to our ethics - better than just about anybody, and he can convey his knowledge to us with clarity, humor, and an utter lack of preachyness. He sees food choices - and I suspect all our day-to-day choices - as opportunities to clarify and exercise our own particular ethics. And, as he says, in what other realm do we get to vote for what we believe in three times a day? This strikes me as absolutely right, and I gotta respect him for not prescribing a view, but instead illuminating the complex repercussions of our choices.
What struck me after reading this interview was that I'm not entirely clear about my own food ethics right now. Am I more about humane treatment of animals or about habitat conservation? Sustainable farming methods, organic farming methods, or local farming? Personal health or economic & environmental well-being for all?
To make better choices, I really do need to prioritize a bit. So:
1. Starting today, no exceptions to the "no factory farmed proteins" rule. I'm actually about 90% on this already, but let's go for 100%. If I'm going to purchase a non-veggie protein, then it's got to be not simply organic or "cage free", it's got to be demonstrably humanely raised.
2. I'll choose locally farmed, organic produce whenever possible, because that uses less fossil fuel for transport and supports a local, living economy.
So then, if those are my newly-focused rules, what could be an actual plan for when I'm standing in the produce section?
How about this?
a. Set a reasonable budget for food I want to buy.
b. When at the store, gather the items that are locally, organically grown and humanely farmed first.
c. Approximate how much of my budget I have left, adjust, and get as much of the rest of what's on the list as I can afford.
OK: Freddy's, here I come!
P.S. To sample Michael Pollan, just try Michael Pollan.com.