My comfort food comes with a side of environmental baggage

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While I could hardly imagine a cooler job, there is a downside to being in the know of the world of good deeds. The quintessential angel on my shoulder embodying my conscience is one obese loud mouth. The implications of most of my actions and decisions are dissected and scrutinized meticulously. Beware friends and family; I nag my boyfriend about putting a single zucchini in a plastic bag in the produce section and make my friends go out of their way to meet me at a fair trade coffee shop. Being so vigilant can be a pain in the rear.

The perfect example is the guilt associated with my newly rekindled love for sushi. All the book and articles I’ve read have elbowed “ignorant bliss” out of the dinner equation. I pond whether the bite of toro roll I’m struggling not to drop with chopsticks before I get it to my mouth is made with over-fished tuna caught in the wild. And if not, is the farm-raised tuna feed a synthetic and unnatural corn-based diet in an overcrowded industrial fishbowl? Am I eating the McDonald’s of sushi or the last tuna of its kind to ever swim the great ocean blue? Ok, so I still eat it, but I feel justified by offsetting any harm done by other proactive measures (such as blogging about it).

Environmental awareness and activism are worming their way into our daily lives. And it’s not just for those on the fringes of the far left (there’s Honda Insight often parked outside of my apartment boasting a Bush bumper sticker). “Going green” is a profitable business strategy and consumers are quickly buying in. Restaurants , like British sushi chain Moshi Moshi, are seasonly reconfiguring their menus to excluded the endangered fish species. Check out their “Clear Conscience Sushi Set.” Call me a bleeding heart, but that’s what I want see more of in grocery stores and restaurant menus.


  • I was on the path to changing my consumption of food before I read the book but The Omnivore’s Dilemma certainly gave me a lot to think about. One of the main changes I made, both for health and political/social reasons, was to become nearly vegetarian. Concerns over factory farming and whether or not farmers are making a living wage make it hard to enjoy meat based dinners. Those thoughts in my brain just won’t shut up. Happily more restaurants are starting to commit to buying local meat and produces and telling people about it so there are times when it’s not quite so guilt inducing to order a burger.

    In other words, while I don’t share your love of sushi, I do understand your predicament.

  • I’m not all the way through the book yet, but like you, it has greatly impacted my thoughts and actions. I’ve started many conversations lately with, “you’ve got to read ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma…'” If consumers were educated at that level about the food they eat, it would change the industry massively. Policies would change, there would be much more transparency and more healthful and ethical food options. It’s hard to eat that way now, since Pollan’s book is not widely read and our options are limited as a result.

    Locally though, many restaurants display the “Kentucky Proud” label and we do have more and better options in terms of our grocery stores (such as Rainbow Blossom). Unfortunately that is only true if you live in the east side of the city, but that is a whole other issue.

    Thanks for the comment Michelle.

  • While I probably have Greg to thank for this, you are very much not along on the zucchini bag thing. I cannot abide waste, at least not in the many flagrant forms it manifests itself all around us. Single items do not need a bag, they are just as easy to carry without one, and they certainly do not need their own bag within a cart/bag, like in the case you mentioned.

    Now if we could just get places to make printing receipts OPTIONAL. I think I’ve come across two places where that is the case. Two. I usually make it a point to ask the cashier to throw it out for me, hoping that they might mention something to a manager at how much paper, ink, and time they waste.

  • I have not yet read the book, but will be looking into it shortly. As you said, Ashley, if consumers were more educated, it would impact policies, etc. I recently learned that the EU will soon be changing produce and meat labels to reflect the number of kilometers the food has travelled and also the amount of emissions from transportation. This is a huge step towards consumer awareness.

  • I think I remember mention of this in the book. If you’re interested enough to about the EU’s new policy, you will love The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I think it’s the best book I’ve read this year.

  • Hello Diana. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your work is obviously very different from mine, and abstract work is something I can only admire since I’ve never gotten into myself. I especially like the pieces where the layers are much thicker. I’m fond of that “heaviness.” Keep painting. One of my professors in college used to tell me when I would hit a wall “paint your way through it.” That has served me very well. Keep going.

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