I am not a locavore. When local things are in season, I eat them in abundance, because they’re delicious. The thought of giving up foreign ingredients makes me unhappy though, especially because much of it I associate with my own Trinidadian home food, or other ethnic cuisines that I eat every day. This winter I’m going to make every squash recipe I can get my hands on, and learn how to do it well. It’s not something I ate growing up, but it’s very Canadian, so I figure I should really learn how to cook it.
I am not a vegetarian. I was for a few years in high school/university and I was severely anemic, and I find a bit of red meat every week vastly improves my energy level and mood. I do feel like a jerk though, if I stop to think about it. To paraphrase herbivore-convert Jonathan Safran Foer, I don’t eat meat very much, except whenever I feel like it. At home, I rarely cook meat. Probably two or three times a month. Our weaknesses are seafood, good sausage and a bit of bacon. I have bought all my meat from the Healthy Butcher, Cumbrae or the St. Lawrence Market for a while, and since it’s shockingly expensive I can’t see cooking more meat anytime soon. Summer barbecues increase my flesh consumption, for sure and I do tend to eat meat when I eat out, because most restaurants have pathetic vegetarian options (especially since I don’t eat much cheese). I rarely eat chicken. I don’t really like it that much, and it irritates me that so many so-called healthy diets are obsessed with chicken, when factory farming is totally unhealthy for people, animals or the earth, at all. My attitude to meat is like so many things in life: I don’t understand why people do it so much (the concept of Meatless Monday seems overly simple to me) but the thought of saying no forever seems drastic (read: cigs). I like to call it moderation, but more likely it’s a lack of commitment.
With organic, I buy as much as I feel I can afford. That varies daily. I way prefer to buy from small indie stores and farmers than big grocers: as Michael Pollan pointed out in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the monocultural farming practices of big organic producers like Earthbound Farms are also pretty crummy for the earth.
I don’t eat a lot of processed food, mostly because I am just too fussy about how things taste. But recent articles in the New York Times (here and here, for starters) don’t hurt, either. About two months ago I started cooking my beans from scratch, because I eat a lot of beans and the bisphenol A thing was freaking me out. It’s actually not that hard—thanks, Mark Bittman. I eat a few other things from cans: tomatoes and tomatillos would be the main ones, and I can’t think of any off-season substitutes.
Generally, I walk around with a massive load of guilt about everything, so I feel tortured over my ethical lapses, but probably in a self-congratulatory way. But hey, beans and squash. Don’t they count for anything?