The other day a well-meaning friend and I were talking about chicken. This is a person who cares about the environment and is raising her kids in a conscientious and responsible way. When I asked her why she didn’t buy the chickens from the store nearest us, she looked at me with a smile and said “I can’t afford them.”
This isn’t the first time someone has indicated that my choice to eat the way I do is based on the fact that I can afford to do so. I thought nothing of it and got on with my day. A few hours later, however, it realized how angry I was. My anger wasn’t directed towards this person but rather at the concept that to eat “healthy” you have to have money.
First of all, what does anyone know about anyone else’s finances or monetary decisions?
But, more importantly, my choice is not (just) a question of economics. It is, however, about what I am able to afford. I am able to afford healthy food because I can’t afford to be ill. I am able to afford the nutritional choices that I make because I can’t afford to trudge through my days with low-energy. I simply can’t afford to while away my time at doctors’ offices or in bed, with aches and pains and sniffles. Being down, or borderline depressed isn’t something I can afford.
Mankind didn’t always eat this much meat. In the past, servings were the opposite of what they are now: vegetables weren’t side dishes, meat was. I’m not a yuppie health freak – or maybe I am; regardless of labels, what I am interested in is feeling well, being happy, sucking every last second out of life, be it in my exercise routine, in my job, in my relationship, in my work and, of course, in every second I spend with my daughter.
Yes, I choose to eat mostly organic produce. And I get as much as I can from farmers’ markets or from the farm deliveries (the UK equivalent of a CFA in the US). Yes, when I do eat animal protein, I choose to do so from sustainably, humanely raised animals.
Some fruits and vegetables are sprayed more than others – so if you’re watching your wallet (and who isn’t these days), you can educate yourself as to which ones are more important to buy organic. Check out the Environment Working Groups’s list of which fruits and vegetables are most/least sprayed for more information.
And is having meat, fish, eggs or poultry every single day actually healthy?
If your answer to my previous question was yes, I invite you to read Michael Pollan, Dr. Dean Ornish and Colin T Campbell for starters. Mr. Pollan isn't vegan, he doesn't have blue hair, nor does he live in a teeppee (or a yurt). But he does advocate that we "eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." And with good reason. Dr Ornish has demonstrated time and again through clinical research that people can reverse coronary heart disease through diet and lifestyle. T Colin Campbell is a Professor Emeritus at Cornell with more than seventy years of research experience. He also grew up on a dairy farm.
We vote with our money, we send messages to huge corporations and small farmers with the food choices we make. I can’t afford to spend mine on chickens who are fed chemical crap, crammed in cages smaller then their bodies, with no access to light, fresh air, the outdoors. I can’t afford to eat GM vegetables topped with pesticide sauce. I can’t afford to not think about where my food is coming from – not as a mother thinking of my child’s future, not as an inhabitant of this earth, not as a woman concerned with my own health.
Interesting articles and further reading on the subject:
- The LA Times on routine antibiotic use in animals
- Moms for antibiotic awareness
- A recent study comparing supermarket prices to those at farmer’s markets
And now for the zucchini recipe...
In the past few months, I have been a little remiss about posting recipes. You see, right now, my time in the kitchen is extremely limited. These days, it's more about throwing things together in fifteen seconds than being able to spend hours testing, tasting and perfecting. That is my life as a new mother, apparently. To be honest, I wouldn't mind so much except for this blog. So, I kept putting off posting new recipes because they weren't as exact as I wanted them to be. But for now, I guess my life is going to be more chaotic, my time is going to be minimal -- maybe you'll indulge me in less formal posts, dishes and measurements for a while. For my part, I promise I won't post recipes that are any less than wonderfully delicious.
Zucchini and herb salad with broccoli flowers
(serves 2-3 as a starter or a side dish)
- 3 good sized zucchini / courgettes
- 1/3 hard pear
- approx. 1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
- approx. 1/8 cup fresh mint, chopped
- approx. 3/4 cup rocket (arugula), roughly chopped
- handful broccoli flowers
- sprinkle of rock salt
- 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
- splash of good olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade (392 Fahrenheit).
Cut the zucchini into three pieces and then cut those pieces into quarters, lengthwise. Spread on a baking tray.
Using a sharp knife, cut the pear into slivers as thin as you can get them, and then sprinkle over the zucchini.
Roast for about 20 -25 minutes (check and shake after about 15 minutes to make sure they don't burn.)
At the bottom of your salad bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar.
Combine the mint, chives, and rocket and mix.
When the zucchini is soft but still has a crunch, pull it out of the oven (the pear should have darker edges by now but it shouldn't be burned). Allow to cool for a few minutes and then add to the herbs in the salad bowl Mix well, sprinkle with some rock salt and broccoli flowers and serve immediately.