Chile can make us do things we've been putting aside for too long.
Her Quit Now challenge asks participants to think about their everyday choices and what they will mean in a peak oil world.
Last month I officially signed up for the challenge of not using the clothes dryer. With one small exception, my family made it through the month with, um, flying colors (or at least waving-in-the-breeze dingy-whites).
I also managed to make the switch from shampoo in bottles to shampoo bars, and from disposable kitchen sponges to hand-knit washrags.
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This month I pledged not to buy bread but to make it myself all the time, using grain we grind ourselves. I love making bread but often don't get it done for any time other than Shabbat.
(Well, we already blew it once. Last night we bought pita to go with our its-too-hot-to-cook hummus and tabbouleh picnic....)
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I made another pledge, one that I've been struggling with intellectually for some time and only sometimes trying to live up to:
I will not eat CAFO (confined or concentrated animal feeding operations) or factory farmed animal products this month.
In the next few weeks, I'll write more about why I chose this action and what my issues with this decision are. But for now, a little history:
I was a most-of-the-time vegetarian for many years.
"Most of the time," you ask? I've always eaten whatever my mother and grandmother put in front of me. And I've always eaten foods culturally important to the people and cultures we visited on trips. (That meant eel in Quebec, pork barbeque in South Carolina, tako poke in Hawaii.)
While I was pregnant, I craved meat and eventually decided to honor that craving and eat all the liver I wanted. For years after my son's birth, I continued to be vegetarian except on the first day of my menstrual period when I ate beef.
We kept a vegetarian house, partly to make it easy for our kitchen to remain kosher. I ate meat out at restaurants during my monthly exceptions.
Then Peter Singer and Erik Marcus entered my life. When I read about how dairy cows and laying poultry worked into the industrial agricultural system, I began to feel that eating no meat but continuing to support the system nonetheless by purchasing milk and eggs was something I could not do. We began to buy soy milk and artificial egg powder, as well as TVP and more tofu and tempeh than we had been eating before in our dairy-and-egg days.
Then, Son had significant reactions to the soy he was eating. We cut out the soy for a brief experiment--and his weight and height both soared instantly. He had been a tiny child--and now I believe it is because his body could not absorb nutrients well because of his food sensitivities. (He is now very average size-wise and doesn't have significant food issues of any type.) I'm not saying that children cannot be fed well on a heavy soy diet--just that this particular child could not due to the reactions of his gut.
After a lot of soul searching, long conversations into the night, and reading in the philosophy section, David and I decided to buy both meat, eggs, and dairy from a nearby farm. I have been extremely pleased with this decision.
I swapped utterly, from keeping to a vegetarian diet at home but eating meat out, to keeping an omnivore's kitchen but eating vegetarian out. Or at least that was my plan. David kept to his word far more than I did.
We never said we'd be vegans when we were out--but a lot of my hair-pulling was from the fact that I truly believe a factory farm is a factory farm. Whether the animal is killed for meat or just de-beaked and de-tailed and crowded beyond belief in a dark warehouse full of its own shit really does not make much difference to me.
Ordering the cheese omelette instead of the burger really doesn't make me feel better about my ability to be a moral person.
The funny thing is that my belief that a factory farm is a factory farm pushes me away from not only animal products produced industrially but PLANT products produced industrially--and that means almost all soybeans and other meat analogs. I'll write more about this in coming posts, but for now...
...I am going to keep my meat eating and my dairy and egg consumption to our own kitchen, where, yes, we will cook animal foods, all from animals living on a farm we have visited, raised by a farmer we know.
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I've already blown it. July 1st at knitting group, I decided to order eggplant fries. I did not ask if they were vegan. Even though I realized they might have some kind of egg dip, I decided they probably did not given that they do not have a thick-batter coating.
What a wimp I am. I'm going to have to learn how to ask again.
Then when I was chatting about it later, I realized they were sprinkled with parmesan cheese. What an auspicious start.