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October 06, 2006

Lunchtime Guilt

I feel guilty about my lunch. And my dinner. Not just today, but most days. Today's lunch is navy beans, broccoli, and olive oil. I'm not a vegetarian, I just prefer to save my animals for dinnertime. I don't feel guilty about the olive oil -- it is a "good" fat (still fattening, but not cholesterol-producing) -- nor do I feel guilty about the navy beans. They are cheap, full of fiber, minerals, and protein, and they are organic. The part that's got me hanging my head in shame is the broccoli. On Tuesday, David and I went to Kroger, which was having a sale on frozen vegetables -- a dollar a pound. I bought about twenty-two pounds: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, okra, spinach, and corn (which is not a vegetable at all, but is still delicious). Given that I eat a pound and a half of vegetables a day (12 oz. at lunch and 12 oz. at dinner -- this is why I feel less guilty about breakfast), this purchase will last me about two weeks.

I was actually feeling pretty good about the fact that I wouldn't need to buy vegetables again until mid-month, until yesterday, when I read the chapter on Judaism and ecology in Michael Lerner's Jewish Renewal, which describes an eco-kosher ideology

that questions whether food that has been grown in ecologically destructive ways, or food that has been harvested by underpaid farmworkers, or food that has been produced by companies that are exploiting their workers or by companies that are destroying the environment, can really be considered kosher.
Each element of this sentence felt like a stab in the belly. I know that Kroger vegetables are grown in ecologically destructive ways and harvested by underpaid farmworkers, I know that the transportation to get the food from wherever it was grown to my local Kroger freezer case is destroying the environment, and I know that Kroger as a company has a history of exploiting its workers. I felt even guiltier when I picked up Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver's new book of essays, and read that, not only does she shun conventional produce, but she refuses to eat anything that has traveled more than an hour to get to her!

If I feel so guilty about my the impact my vegetables have on the planet, and if I live in Ann Arbor, where I not only have a vibrant farmers' market two days a week, but I also live in walking distance of a food co-op that boasts a not-too-shabby selection of organic produce, why do I even buy the Kroger frozen stuff? I have to admit that I'm seduced by the convenience (not to mention the price). Though I once loved cooking, I have grown bored by the tedium of washing, chopping, boiling, steaming, and roasting vegetables. Or maybe bored isn't the right word. I guess I just don't find it as entertaining as I used to, and today there are so many other things I would rather be doing: blogging, reading, knitting, watching television (yes, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it's the truth), or playing with David. I guess life is just all about compromise.

Posted by eklanche at October 6, 2006 01:47 PM


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