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What an interesting post, I often curse myself for not having the discipline to follow an organic or vegetarian diet. I'm also a bit of a label-reader, but it's so overwhelming sometimes that you just close your eyes and pick blindly! Your point about ordering eggs at a cafe really hit me, I am absolutely adamant about buying free-range eggs and I lecture anyone I know who doesn't, and yet it's never occurred to me to ask at a cafe! I will from now on that's for sure.


I love that you're raising these issues on your blog. I have strong vegetarian leanings (along with a dislike of imposing labels!), but I've realized that it's not necessarily as simple as avoiding meat: is it better to eat free-range organic beef from a family farm, or a packet of big-brand chips? So while my attempts to "eat ethically" generally do involve avoiding meat, my primary concern tends to be who exactly my money's going to (I especially like to support small businesses, even if they aren't super green; but then, a lot of small businesses already seem to be jumping on the bandwagon). I think there is a line, but I don't know how or when we should cross it! Probably the most important thing is to make thoughtful choices and realize that while our food might never be perfect, we should still try to do the least harm possible.



first, I love you. second, last evening I read in bill mckibben's 'deep economy' that most of the chickens americans eat never walk in their life. now, that doesn't have to make someone a vegeterian - there's nothing inherently wrong with eating meat - and though this case is severely sad, the real problem to me is that it's frightening to see that we've taken our personal consumption to this constant level of selfishness; we've become utterly mindless.

keep on keeping on, friend! xo


It is great to read your thoughts as I am currently feeling it is truly a mindfield out there. In the UK for example we have recently had a big TV campaign by a few of our high profile TV chefs exposing the chicken industry and where our chickens and eggs come from (http://www.rivercottage.net/) - It was truly awful and while I thought "yay I buy free range chicken and eggs" - I didn't realise how everything else in a supermarket from mayonnaise to cakes and croissants DIDN'T use free range eggs as I don't read the labels. It is also getting worse here as the cost of living is getting really expensive we are following the US with rising houseprices - how can families on modest incomes afford to pay extra just for organic and fairtrade products. It costs so much more for fresh fruit and veg than frozen products - which are having a resurgence here in popularity, I just want to shout it's the wrong way round!

I guess at the moment I am thinking "where do you start?" which I guess is what a lot of people think until they get to the place that you are at and say "enough". We do eat meat, but don't prepare in the way my grandparents did? I buy ready cut and pre-packed which is wrong when I believe that if you eat meat you should be able to trace where it comes from (I was reading the other day how steaks are shipped in from African animals called zeeboos to fast food restaurants), understand how it was reared and be able to butcher it utilising ALL of the animal - not just choice cuts. This is all just a symptom of our "instant and greedy" society, which is so wrong.

I was even thinking about putting biofuel in my tank until I read how they needed fertiliser, more intensive farming and were a threat to wildlife (see article here http://www.smallholder.co.uk/mostpopular.var.2220155.mostviewed.dont_put_wildlife_in_your_tank_the_rspb_urges_caution_in_thinking_bio_fuels_as_the_green_solution.php).

Gosh I'm sorry to have rambled all over your blog I guess I am very passionate about doing the right thing for my family too but am still trying to decide what is the best path for us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts they have certainly provoked mine! At the very least I will read labels more and cook more from scratch and buy from my local farmers market so I can be sure I am not tricked into buying battery eggs etc...


I found your post to be very inspiring. It's a nice description of a very individual process toward a more pure life. I commend you and hope to move in the same direction as I get more information and keep my eyes open. thanks.


I enjoyed reading your post. I also have become very passionate about nourishing and sustaining myself and my family with foods that are beneficial and life giving to our bodies. About 12 months ago I was given a copy of a book called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and also stumbled upon a supporting website http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/

WOW has it blown my mind and opened my eyes to the ways our foremothers 'nourished' their families with their traditional diets and how they enjoyed healthy long lives with very little disease.


Definately I think it is important as parents to take care of our children. I think there is so much processed junk out there. I know I am a rareity in our cirle of friends, as I don't buy processed foods, like the fruit snacks and the crackers and the frozen. I've made a more concious effort to buy local, organic and when the kids want a snack, they have fruit or a vegetable or something I've made from scratch. But can we be so excessive that we forget to enjoy food...sometimes, I think. But I don't think there is ever a moment when our responsibility shouldn't challenge our reasonability. Unless, one's grocery bill is ridiculous and the use of gas to get to the place far outweighs the benefit of thinking conservatively. ;-)


Very glad to read this! ... I love Heidi Swanson's blog and her book - so many great meal ideas. I've been a vegetarian for 3 years now, and it's been a journey. I have a whole new relationship with food.

I admire your choices and the research you have been doing - it very important, and its very responsible. And, it can be so so yummy and satisfying. Maybe your body changes and you start craving different things?

Thanks for posting this~ =)

Mom Quixote

We're thinking of going vegetarian, too. My husband's father is a vegan, but I don't think I could be that disciplined...but maybe soon we can start with little steps.


I was privvy to a lecture by Michael Pollan, author of the book, "Omnivore's Dilemma". He was addressing the Farm Bill which our President is set to veto - again. And again it is expected to be overridden by Congress.

Michael's lecture left me with so many questions and a thirst for knowledge. I did some research of my own which opened my eyes to locally grown foods and the foods our children are fed in schools. In California, due to budget cuts, most of our children are fed the cheapest foods available, foods low in quality. Bad nutrition is directly related to slow cognitive and physical development.

Thankfully, in my County, there is alot being done to facilitate local farmers supplying local schools. I strongly encourage everyone to do some research on such programs and support them any way they can including participating at your local farmer's market. It doesn't take alot of effort to make an impact.


I do think every choice counts, even in the smallest ways. I buy all of my produce from my neighborhood farmers' market (I would grow my own, but I'm a city girl!); I try to get most things locally produced; I get as much organic as I can afford; I use more 'natural' cleaning products (Method, which are delicious); I cook at home at lot.

I've been a vegetarian for 12 years and it's been easy for me because I never really loved meat. Congrats on your decision - I think your attitude is a healthy one. Of course you may eat meat again, and that's fine (I just ask that it be free-range/local/humanely raised :) ); I think the key is awareness, and balance, and just being thoughtful. And then also I think simplicity is very helpful - in terms of using quality ingredients, and not too many of them.

Your kids will totally thank you for it down the road!


i echo the sentiments of nicole..."...the key is awareness,...balance, and just being thoughtful."
i feel a bit late in the game, but the small changes i've recently made in regards to being greener have made a bigger impact as far as my mindset...which ultimately affects my choices.
wonderful post...always inspiring.


I changed my diet many years ago that eliminated additives and preservatives which had me a label reader too! I may crave something, but as soon as I pick it up and read the label, that craving is easily dismissed once I've read the ingredients. Wholesome foods and eating veggies and fruit that are in season are what I strive for. Eating seasonal foods supports more of the local farmers, ie. 100 mile diet. I've been a gardener for years, and it is a pleasure to eat the food that you have worked hard to sow. It's not always easy, but when I physically and mentally feel better from my food choices, it makes my decisions easier. It comes down to choice. We can be driven by consumerism or we can become aware of the choices that best suit us individually and essentially communally. I would rather support my local economy than somewhere 40,000 miles away.
Enjoying cooking the way you do, I'm sure you see over and over how the simplest and most pure ingredients make for the tastiest dishes!


It seems that the voices of people who are choosing to incorporate more whole foods and remove those with chemically engineered additives are becoming stronger and larger in number every single day. It's incredibly refreshing to have so many like-minded people, where you don't seem crazy for spending more for healthy, organic, and often locally-produced food. Hopefully the trend of becoming more cognizant of what your food is made of and where it is coming from is one that sticks, tough economic times and all.

I highly recommend checking out your nearby Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (www.localharvest.org/csa). It's a wonderful way to cut out the middle man and support your local farmers, bakers, and craftspeople while getting the freshest, best tasting, and healthiest produce and food goods possible. I won't be using it this summer when I have my giant garden in production, but guaranteed during the winter I'll be receiving one of their fantastic boxes every other week.


This is on of my favorite posts. (And I love the habit of being...). I was blessed to grow up in a home where my grandfather was a naturopathic doctor (meaning every treatment is all-natural, no antibiotics...no 'modified' craziness.) In turn, our family lived off of the earth as much as possible. My mother was a coop leader, gardener (which took literally an acre of land...more like a tiny farmer), and she would can everything to last through the winter. We ate naturally grown, farm raised beef, got milk from a local farmer (AS it came out of the cow! YUMM) and used the cream to make sour cream, cottage cheese, etc). So, you can imagine how raising my own family, I address this question EVERY day. It's SO hard in our culture to live 'clean' to eat 'organic'...in so many ways the American culture doesn't cater to living a lifestyle of health unless you are quite wealthy. Cheap food is junk usually. It's why I adore the ways of Europe, their fresh markets and only in season eating...their healthy, farm raised meats....but they do it b/c their culture hasn't sped up so fast that nobody can keep up. They don't stock pile food and fill their refrigerators. We have to eat all those toxic preservatives b/c we eat canned, packaged food. This is a hard question. My kids have grown up knowing that fast food is 'poison' and that we don't eat it...my 3-year-old says 'mommy, look, poison food' as we drive by. But, in my mind, I then see the glass of milk he just drank....pasteurized, dead of nutrients, chemically filled with preservatives. It's hard to live clean for our bodies...so I can't imagine how hard it is to also consider the earth, as well. I guess for me, I first consider what is healthy for my kids and my body...do i want to walk when I 80 or be in a chair? Do I want my grandchildren to be as healthy as they can be b/c my children were? I want to create a generation of healthy people that are not only doing it for their families, but everyone. Yes, this is such a hard thing to embrace...b/c it's SO hard to really 'live it' in our culture. It's not catered to, so it's not easy. Sorry, that was long! This was so inspirational to read. I'm so glad you are asking this question....thank you! Anna


a nourishing post indeed, full of insight and inspiration. i concur with many of the responses as well and love that your audience is so dedicated and wise. i plan to peruse the comments and links thoroughly. well done, an invigorating dialog you've stirred.

i often note the fine line of living organically, responsibly, intelligently yet sensibly. it isn't easy being green all the time and requires effort to get to the source of things but every simple step contributes significantly...to our selves, our families, our homes, our communities, our countries and our world. what a joy to discover that less is actually more.


good for you guys. i really think you'll find that it's easier not eating meat then you ever thought. i haven't eaten any for almost... 12 years now and i honestly can't think of one good reason to ever again. thanks for this post! :)

Mia Jaeggli

I too am going that route toward sustainable, conscientious eating habits and the first to go in my diet was also corn syrup. Supersize Me and Michael Pollan were also big influences in reshaping my thinking about food. It is gratifying to read about someone else's similar quest and grappling with the meat question. It is also gratifying to read about everyone else's comments about their struggle to cope with our current food industry problems. Now if only I could once and for all say goodbye to meat in my diet. I've never liked it much anyway.

And finally, I adore my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.


oh wow. there is so much to say here. thank you for bringing this issue up here- it is so heartening to see it popping up everywhere. having the conversation is the first choice we can make. i do think that every choice we make matters, which makes me feel very empowered when i make choices about the food i buy (and grow!), the way i get myself places (biking, and driving a biodiesel powered car), buying goods that are more durable and won't be thrown away and landfilled as quickly, buying used goods, etc. We have so much power to change things that it is important to think about each and every choice we make.

That being said, we are only humans. And sometimes, we're going to be lazy, and do something that might not be "environmentally friendly". And you know what, you can't beat yourself up about it. And you can't feel too guilty if, every once in a while, you want a hamburger. Or whatever. There are so many choices available to us now, and I am grateful for that. And what a gift that gift of choice is for our children.


Have you read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell? A must read for anyone interested in making better food choices.


Good for you! This is so inspiring. I often think the same thoughts, too! My husband and I are both vegetarians and eat as much organic food as we can, but somehow I still find myself addicted to candy and burritos from taco bell!

I have to agree with Julia, making those big changes are so fantastic, and they make you feel so much more healthy. But once in a while, you just can't help it. Especially if you are dining out. It's so easy to become completely obsessed, and stay home for every meal, and never slip up. but that wouldn't improve your quality of life, which is half the reason you're doing this, it sounds like.

Anyway, thanks for bringing up this great topic!


14 years ago, I stopped eating meat, chicken, eggs & cheese. The difference in my energy-level, health & weight were amazing! Think about the end of "Super Size Me", where he was really sick, & it only took him 6 weeks of going vegan for his health to make a complete recovery. If you're just starting out, I recommend the book "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford.


I believe very strongly in having a connection with the source of your food... knowing where it's from, who grew it, how it got to your table. That sounds strange and unnecessary at first, but after a while it becomes strange to put something in your body that comes from... you have no clue where.

There is an interesting theory out there... probably not accurate, but very intriguing... that the reason food allergies are SO PREVALENT in children these days is that we've lost all connection with the source of our food. As in, in a very holistic way, our souls are becoming sick and rebelling against the food we've been putting into our bodies these past decades. Like there's a disconnect there... food made in factories of which we know nothing of. Weird, but thought-provoking nonetheless!!!


I love this post jen. For our family it seems our best intentions to embrace slow food and organic and mindful eating is often thwarted by money and time...

I'm reading "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, and he addresses these two “excuses” head on with the stat that 20 years ago we spent more of our income on food and less on healthcare and now those figures have flipped respectively. The idea being that if we went back to spending more on quality food, we’d be healthier. He also notes that we used to cook far more and that we must somehow be filling that time now with other tasks, likely screen time, etc…

Both of those notions were humbling and gave me a swift kick in the pants.

I love hearing how others are dealing with these issues...but for the record i do think every decision we make (no matter how small) makes an impact.


If you haven't already, you should really rent and watch "King Corn". It's a documentary of two Bostonians that move to Iowa to grow an acre of corn and follow the corn industry to see where it ends up. It really opened my eyes up to the nutritional deficencies in meat. It also discusses the history and affects of HFCS.

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