Monday, April 12, 2010

Nom nom nom

I wanted to supplement my earlier post about my move towards organic/sustainable grocery shopping. My first few days have left me very well-fed and satisfied. I have made panini caprese, and egg salad sandwiches in an effort to use up my delicious sourdough bread before it goes stale, and both meals were absolutely fabulous. I fear I may have too vehemently condemned the prevalence of boxed/frozen food in American society, because it is not the fault of the consumers, but of the larger corporations that run our society that our groceries have made this shift.

Realistically, most people have busy lives. I know in my own family between kids school, sports and activities, college, work, church, homework etc, there was very little time left for us to spend together at all, let alone to make and eat dinner together. Having more commitments means more needs to happen in spare time, or that you need to be more efficient to create more spare time at all. This is a capitalist concept in that you are trying to produce surplus; you want to get more out of what you put in. Under that principle, it takes less time to make a meal from a box that from scratch, so if you want to save time you should cook the prepackaged meal.

This was marketed towards us, make no mistake. There are corporations behind everything suggesting the best choices to make. Corporations decide that prepackaged meals are cheaper than individual ingredients and they enjoy the profits. So although there is certainly consumer choice involved in the matter, there is a reason so many people choose to eat out of a box. I maintain most of those foods will not taste as good as homemade ones, but sometimes we have to compromise - time and price for quality.

I do not condemn people for not making a move towards ethical shopping because I realize in our capitalist society we want more bang for our buck. Maybe your bottom line is that you can get more food at Cub than the co-op for the same amount of money. You would not be alone; Americans are raised to be good, patriotic, capitalists after all. My point is there is a trade-off by making that choice (because it is a choice) and each person has to weigh their own concerns.

I have come to the conclusion that buying ethically and making my own food from scratch is more valuable. I have free time in my evenings and enjoy spending some time cooking - although my cat would prefer I spend it brushing him and he makes that very clear. My roommate made me a beautiful apron that I can wear while cooking; it may make me miss her while she flits around Europe but it's nice to think about her all the same. I hope to nurture this skill of cooking because it is one I have not paid much attention to, and I am all about learning new things! I enjoy my homemade cooking better; I have so many things in my pantry that I never feel like eating because they just aren't very good! I cannot wait to go home tonight to make some delicious mushroom and swiss quesadillas!

I will continue to critique the system and the status quo it enforces. The way food is marketed is classist and not everyone can afford to make the ethical choice. To make a true change however, there needs to be a demand by the public, and for that to happen, the people who can afford it have to make a change. If we demand ethical foods, they will be supplied and made more available. This can be seen in the growing number of vegan/vegetarian restaurants and co-ops in general. There is a growing demand for these foods and the market is responding.

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