Are you concerned about the farming methods and other processes that go into producing and growing food? More and more people are with you – there is a growing desire to know where our food comes from and to be more connected with it. Concerns about potentially unethical farming practices have prompted many people to become better shoppers and eat more ethically. Here are some steps you can take to make your table a more ethical one.
1. Find out where your food comes from. Make phone calls, do a search online, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If a store is not transparent and forthright regarding its food’s origins, find somewhere else to shop. Local, smaller stores are probably less likely to give you the runaround, especially because the store’s owner is often readily available. Ask for the name and contact information of the store’s food supply sources. That way, you can research and contact the source directly rather than just taking the store’s word for it.
2. Organic food is produced without the use of synthetic, toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, making it a healthier and more environmentally-friendly choice. Because of the lack of poisons, organic food should be at the top of your ethical shopping list.
3. Free-range meats and dairy products are also worth looking into if you don’t morally object to eating animals and their products, but only object to cruel treatment in conventional stockyards, slaughterhouses, and dairy farms. Contact the company that sells the free-range meat or dairy products you want, and visit the site if possible. Make sure their practices are up to your personal ethical code. Free-range, organic meats are less likely to harbor dangerous bacteria, too, since their animals are not kept in overcrowded conditions.
4. Fish are healthy foods consumed even by some vegetarians. However, it pays to look into the source of your fish – is it farmed or wild-caught? Have dyes been added (particularly a problem with salmon)? Is the species of fish endangered? Are other species, such as dolphins, harmed in the fishing process? These are important questions to ask as you probe into the sources of your fish. Farmed fish may be more susceptible to bacterial contamination, since they are grown in crowded, contained ponds or containers rather than in open waters.
5. Grow or hunt your own food, or hook up with someone who does. Hunting is considered by many to be the ultimate source of free-range meat – certainly no questionable practices went into the raising of the animal, and a good hunter can be far more humane than conventional slaughterhouse techniques. Like the commercial farms, check into your hunter friend’s practices and see that they are ethical and humane. As for fish, the art and sport of fishing can be an enjoyable way to put healthy food on the table.
6. Growing your own vegetables and/or trading goods or services with a neighbor who has a garden are viable ways to stay connected with your food and know its source. Look into orchards and produce farms that have a “pick your own” option, too.