Sunday, January 24, 2010

Choosing Your Food

I just finished Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals". I didn't quite feel grossed out. It's more like, huge sigh. Is the information surprising? (Read reviews/comments here, here and here.)

Acquaintances often tease me about my odd preferences in food, how I don't eat chicken or pork, etc. I'm finicky about food. Life's too short to waste on hormone-injected bad food. If these acquaintances are fellow citizens or from countries that aren't third world, it's painful that they don't think too much about their food sources. Often, I can't be bothered to go into an extended discourse about the reasons why I eat certain items and why I don't eat others. If they see it, they'll understand. If they don't, they won't till later, or never. It isn't my place to convince anyone of anything.

The man understands this. So does the maid. Initially, she didn't understand why we're so 'paranoid' about the food we eat. But now she does. They're extra vigilant when picking out groceries.

By the way, I hope you do know that kampung chickens sold in Singapore aren't free range. AVA has never denied that the supposed kampung chickens you see in the supermarkets are not free range. These 'kampung chickens' have been raised on biosecured farms. Organic or antibiotic-free chickens don't equate free range either.

It isn't difficult to avoid eating chickens when I know how they're usually reared, farmed and killed. Same goes for other meats. Compassionate farms exist, few and far. I haven't missed chicken or pork in my food. The other day, I asked colleagues to tapau me 'wonton mee' because it was the most convenient item for them. Or fishball noodles. If I'm asking for a favor, I've to make sure that it doesn't cause too much trouble. But I only ate the noodles and the vegetables and left the rest of the meats untouched. Too bad for me that the stock and gravy are either chicken or pork. (The old adage of "don't waste your food" isn't quite applicable anymore.)

What I do wish for is that more people will be conscious about sustainable food sources and not just zero in on the price or dismiss the fact that only people who can afford it or who are atas will buy environmentally friendly products. My point is, if you're willing to pay for gig tickets, throw lavish wedding parties, baby showers and watnots, change cellphones regularly and pay telcos mad amounts of fees to watch World Cup, do think about the household budget on food and other items. Buying all that's cheap and good, and being frugal will sustain you and your children, but the earth might not be able to sustain your grandchildren.

If our eating habits don't change, our earth will, and it can only be for the worse.


wildgoose said...

Just reading the first link to your post makes one rethink eating meat. But it's not easy being vegetarian either with the limited food choices.

Dawn said...

I'm halfway through and it's really fascinating (and also pretty appalling).

Wildgoose - it's actually pretty easy being vegetarian. Food choices really aren't as limited as they used to be.

tuti said...

cancer and diseases very common these days. food also tastes different. last time i find certain types of prawns different taste, now, vegetables and chicken also. one day nothing to eat already because all contaminated. :(

Dawn said...

I was surprised at how much the industry self-regulates to the extent that ethical and health concerns are almost completely ignored. I had imagined some oversight as in any industry, but not that it would be the norm, rather than the exception. Putting aside ethical considerations, the utter disregard for public health was pretty shocking to me - as just one example, the bit on how fecal material in your meat is now considered just a 'cosmetic blemish' rather than reason to discard the meat, as it used to be.

supercoati said...

How I wish my in-laws can understand this concept. They get really worked up when my boys jokingly tell them that mummy feed them with rabbit diet(salad) and gunk soup(beans soup) on weekends. Hub and I are 90% vegetarians on weekends but less so on weekdays as my parents eat with us.

imp said...

wildgoose: we do have plenty of choices. if you're not entirely vegan. otherwise, it's just homecooked food. restaurants are getting more and morea accommodating to our diets. i've no problems with a vegetarian diet here. But if we've a restaurant like London's The Gate, I'll be in Seventh Heaven. Original Sin here just doesn't cut it.

dawn: by the time you finish, you'll be puking. it's always about high yield and profits.

tuti: always. of course one can always go the other way and say 'heck it' and just live as it has always been.

supercoati: step by step i guess.


Yuling said...

Thank you for this, babe.

sinlady said...

take heart :) the movement is catching on.

wildgoose said...

Erm... i can't cook to save my life and i can't be eating at restaurants all the time, right? But I do make an effort to eat vegetarian at least once a week. :p I know that's a bit lame considering that I was vegetarian for 2 1/2 years before. But I got tired of the choices, esp in the industrial backwaters where I work.

imp said...

dawn: oh! typed out an extra thingy to you. delete that pls! all about high yields still.

yuling: :)

sinlady: I hope so.

wildgoose: hope they've the 'chai fan' store. they call economic rice? if you've a store like that, they've a good range of options!

pinkclothmicrophone said...

"Food, Inc" should be an interesting watch too.

Dawn said...

wildgoose - not sure when you were vegetarian, but it's gotten a lot better recently. When I was first vegetarian, waiters and waitresses kept offering me chicken or fish. I notice there's a lot more knowledge now.

wildgoose said...

imp - There is, but there is usu pork or dried shrimp in the veggie dishes too. And i don't really care for the mock meat dishes at the vegetarian stall so after a while, it gets boring (and not any healthier either).

dawn - that was 4 to 5 years ago. I had the same experience with wait staff offering me fish too. Now I usually make up for it by eating a lot of vegetables when my mom cooks. =p

imp said...

pinkclothmicrophone: watched! very interesting. but a little dry at times.

wildgoose: if we could all learnt to cook and tapau food, bet we'll love our meals so much more!