During the Minimalism series at our church Canvas, Brendon and I remembered that we're super thankful that years ago on our own, we decided we no longer wanted to shop cheaply: we wanted to shop for quality and be more ethically-conscious when purchasing items. As a couple it's been wonderful being able to find quality pieces to purchase to build our home together as well as purge items in our closets of things we no longer need or use (Brendon explains more in our post here about the Minimalism series, sharing about companies we love to support that are either small businesses or where proceeds of every purchase go to a cause we believe in). Not only did this series open our eyes to what we wear but it shed light on how we're utilizing our time in our work and what we're putting in our bodies.
During the teaching series I began reading a book called "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book has made me uncomfortable, challenging and changing my perspective on the things that Brendon and I are putting into our bodies daily. Just two-thirds in and my eyes have been opened to the realization that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others will disagree with me that animals are more than just food, but the highly-documented torture of animals is just unacceptable and the human cost Foer describes in his book, which I was unaware of, is universally-compelling. In a nutshell this book begins with Foer, a content meat-eater, who is about to have his first child and decides to investigate eating animals. "What stories do we tell ourselves about eating animals? What do we tell ourselves that makes this OK? Finally, and of most interest to newer vegetarians; what do we tell ourselves about the absence of meat on our family table?"
It pains my heart to think about the mass production that takes place to produce meat, eggs and poultry at farms. Did you know that only 1% of meat will actually come from family owned farms? 1%! If that doesn't make you uncomfortable...well it should. The typical cage for egg-laying hens is an 8"x 8" cage. Nearly all cage-free birds have the same amount of space as well. "To be considered free-range, chickens raised for meat must have "access to the outdoors,” which, if you take those words literally, means nothing. (Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by five dirt patch–and the door is closed all but occasionally.) I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range."
Before this #21daysofenough fast I solely thought I would be ethically-conscious on what I am buying to wear or place in my future apartment, but never confronted my food ethically or where it came from really.. For the most part we eat fairly healthy when Brendon and I are together or separate, shopping for foods that are "organic" and "cage-free" for the most part (which apparently are just words). We also eat meat in moderation and due to Brendon being lactose intolerant and me not drinking milk on a consistent basis for the last two years, it's become more of a treat that sneaks in more frequently as of late (hehe, we love our ice cream).
But if I could be real with you, we love our food! We're big foodies! We love meat, we love fish, we love chicken and I don't know what life would be like without eggs! As I read page after page of Foer's book I'm challenged with the question: Why? Am I turning away from where my food comes from so I don't have to confront the reality? Or I do I love it so much that I don't care the cost?
So what's the solution? I don't know quiet yet. I don't have all the answers. Whether Brendon and I change our lives completely or do nothing, we have responded. "To do nothing is to do something."
Ways you can be more ethically cautious of the foods you eat if turning vegetarian isn't an option for you:
- Shop at local farmers markets or family farms
- Check out this awesome website here to check products
- Be more aware of terms like "organic", "fresh", "pastured" "cage free", "free range."
- Educate yourself on what you are putting in your body
- Find what works for you