Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sometimes you have to eat the pork chop.

Today we're going to talk about a topic that we aren't necessarily fond of, and that's the reality of food when you leave your home. The quote in the title comes from The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend. To paraphrase a chapter in her book, sometimes you can't eat perfectly, and you just have to eat the (deep fried) pork chop. If you want a good read, that's a book well worth it. It was one of the books that have informed the basis of our philosophy. I want to discuss that a bit today since it became a focus for the Lady of the House and I as we traveled to a convention to sell her art.
At home it's relatively easy for us to talk about eating well. We have a yard full of greens to eat, not all of which we planted or even have to work for. We've built our lives at home around trying to eat well, and while we aren't perfect we do well. When you leave the house though things HAVE to change. Restaurants aren't geared around ethical eating, or even healthy eating most of the time. Some areas are worse than others of course, but even in good areas most food in our price range isn't ethical food, and if we're out with friends at a restaurant, or at their house we aren't going to examine every aspect of our meal, demand ethically raised and cared for food, or not eat.Whether it's because we need to eat, or we want to not be anti-social, or not offend our friends when they want to feed us. Sometimes we just have to eat what's in front of us. That's exacerbated when traveling outside of our "home range" as we did last weekend.
When traveling one can only bring so much food with you on a practical level, and what you bring has to be non perishable. That means preserved most of the time. We brought a fair amount of good food with us, and tried as much as possible to eat it, we even did fairly well. That said we also ended up eating fast food 4 times over the course of 4 days. In all 4 of the cases it came down to we'd either been working, or traveling all day long, and just needed some hot food. I'm going to be honest, I didn't even think about food ethics for 3 of them, I just needed food, and I needed it now so I didn't fall asleep while driving. So where does that leave us, given that we try to live better than that? The big thing in my mind is, making small changes in our every day lives matter more than occasional lapses. It's part of our philosophy of, small changes are better than no change. Obviously, the better we can do, the happier we'll be with ourselves, but if we're going to maintain this dual life, sometimes, we'll just have to eat the pork chop.


  1. In terms of mindfullness, you would accept that you did not do something the way you wanted to, promise to try harder next time and move on. Don't let the residual guilt of the Puritan founders get you down (*shakes fist at Puritans*).

    Or, if you want you could approach it from the practical side of the fasting monotheistic religions: Even on Yom Kippur, if you're sick, young, pregnant or on your period, you eat. God would rather forgive you than have you die. During Ramadan, if you're young, sick, pregnant or on your period, you can eat during the day.

    So while it's better to eat ethically, it would be *less* ethical to not eat, pass out, and crash your car.

    Barbara Kingsolver covered eating ethically while traveling in her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (which I found unrealistic and sanctimonious, but interesting).

    1. Well said Margot.
      I agree that being mindful and not lying to ourselves is important. I also agree that you can't always go hungry or make your child go hungry because the food options are limited to that which you would rather avoid.
      Avoid unethical practices whenever possible without being unkind to yourself. When it is not possible to avoid unwelcome food sources, don't fret over it; rather be thankful that you are in a position to mostly be able to choose your food source and to contribute in your way to the availability of good local, ethical food and caring neighbors.
      Thank you for the honest entry. It is indeed food for thought.

    2. I completely agree with both of you, and thanks for the comments. I think the point about "Avoid unethical practices whenever possible without being unkind to yourself." is a really important one. I should do a serious sit down look at food ethics again, maybe in a format that wouldn't be so blog appropriate because I think while pithy lines are great, thorough ethical writing is a bit dense, and long for this format.