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Tony Grist

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What To Do? [Mar. 14th, 2014|11:31 am]
Tony Grist
When things are cheap in the shops it generally means that someone- somewhere down the line- is being ripped off. A cheap tee shirt almost certainly comes from a sweat shop, a cheap chicken from a factory farm. I was reading about the Peruvian fishmeal industry last night and it's nasty, nasty nasty. Millions of tonnes of small fish are scooped out of the sea to make fishmeal to feed chickens to feed people in the West- and not only are local people being deprived of a nutritious food source, but the food chain in the sea is being disrupted- affecting supplies of larger fish- and the waste product- a fatty, oily slurry, is being pumped back into the sea where it kills everything it touches.

Make things right, farm things right- and it costs money. You have to be rich to afford things that have been made by a craftsman, or meat that's been raised ethically. When poor people demand a share of the fruits of capitalism it's always going to be at a cost to people who are even poorer- not to mention animals and the environment.  I don't have an answer- apart from the blindingly obvious one which most of us either ignore or laugh off.  Yes, we should all become Buddhists or Shakers or Tolstoyans and go and live in communes and whittle our own furniture and lovingly rear our own hens, but we're not going to, are we?
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-03-14 11:53 am (UTC)
I don't know the answer either - or rather, I do, but I don't know how we get there from here. But for what it's worth: you have to be rich to afford the best of everything, but many of us are rich enough that the question becomes which things are worth paying the price for. Food in the UK is comparatively cheap, there's a lot of competition to be the cheapest (not just among the discounters but further upmarket too), and as you say, that cheapness tells us something about the quality of the food. But we put up with it because housing is expensive, and we have to make savings somewhere. So bad food subsidises the property market...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 01:26 pm (UTC)
The answer is to change human nature- which is a pretty tall order. Buddha tried it, Jesus tried it, Mao tried it. None of them had much success...
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2014-03-14 12:08 pm (UTC)
Don't eat meat? Or eggs, which is harder for me. It's the best I can manage.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 02:50 pm (UTC)
But what difference can one or two vegetarians make?

I'm not eating meat at the moment but I'm not saying I'll stick to it. I've drifted in and out of vegetarianism before.
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[User Picture]From: heliopausa
2014-03-14 12:36 pm (UTC)
Eat local? i.e. mostly locally-produced fruit and veg, and if it's chicken, make it chicken that you know hasn't been fed on that on imported fishmeal. And it doesn't mean huge dramatic hyper-spiritual deprivation, it means more or less eating as most of our grandparents did, which can be great food, like mixed roast veg, followed by apple crumble.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 02:52 pm (UTC)
I've been eating a lot of root vegetables recently- and they are cheap- at least compared with any kind of meat.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2014-03-14 12:43 pm (UTC)
Of course there is always the option of eating better quality more expensive things, only less, but I don't believe that's within normal human nature - at least not the majority.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 02:56 pm (UTC)
Meat is a status food. People eat it not just because they like it but because they have a position to maintain.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2014-03-14 12:47 pm (UTC)
I would say that a rather astonishing percentage of my family's income goes to getting good food. We joke that it's one of our luxury items. Other people buy fancy cars and expensive clothes and electronic gadgets. We buy... food.

But oh such food. -_-
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 02:58 pm (UTC)
I eat a lot of curry. And once you've covered it in spices it hardly matters what your main ingredient is.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2014-03-14 01:33 pm (UTC)
I do what little I can. I buy free range eggs and chickens that don't come from battery farms. I buy Fairtrade tea and coffee and chocolate. I don't buy really cheap clothes and if you pay a bit more, it's actually good value for money because they stay looking good longer. But I know that whilst we are certainly not well off, we're much better off than many people who can't afford even these salves to their conscience.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 03:01 pm (UTC)
We always buy free range eggs, otherwise we're not so careful. I gave up eating meat a few weeks ago.
I'm not saying I'll stick to it (because meat is so easy) but I'd like to.
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From: artkouros
2014-03-14 02:45 pm (UTC)
In the olden days food wasn't cheap - it was a significant part of your income and assets - that's why you lived on a farm. 100 years ago, chickens and turkeys were a luxury food, now stores give turkeys away at Thanksgiving and chicken is the poor man's food. I think it's incumbent upon those of us who can to buy the locally humanely raised food, to support that industry. I remember when you couldn't find organic food anywhere and no one thought it was possible to make a living at it, but these days lots of small farmers are doing it, and making money. Industrial food makers drive down the prices, because that's what corporations do, but I'm hopeful that the niche for humanely raised foods will get larger, and as people see more and more of what really goes into their corporate food chain they'll opt out.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 03:05 pm (UTC)
It would be good to think so.

Vegetarianism has never been "cool". If it got to be cool- if the president and the Queen and all the celebs became vegetarians then maybe things would change.
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From: cmcmck
2014-03-14 05:02 pm (UTC)
Hmmm.....the hard ones first eh?

I'm veggie but I'll admit it isn't through any Tolstoyan wish to be morally sound 'n' stuff- I'm just not partial to meat.

I try to source ethically,and we don't own personal transport and use public, but it's a bugger and a half of a job at times.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-14 06:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree. Ethical living can be hard work. We don't put ourselves out that much. We don't have the energy.
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[User Picture]From: chochiyo_sama
2014-03-15 02:44 am (UTC)
I would love to live in a commune and grow all my own food and sing Kum-bah-yah every night before bed. But finding the right people to be in the commune with me would be difficult. So many people just love drama.

The answer to the food issue is to have a garden and freeze and can your own vegetables. Keep chickens if you can. The eggs are much better than the factory farm eggs.

I like and eat meat, but if I had to raise and butcher my own animals, I would give it up. I think I could do fish.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-03-15 09:25 am (UTC)
We have friends who lived in a commune back in the 70s. They lasted about a year.

Ailz kept chickens. So, briefly, did my daughter. I've never kept useful animals- only pets.

Here at my mother's we do grown quite a lot of our own food- apples, plums, green beans, tomatoes, rhubarb. If we got organised we could probably be self sufficient- at least in fruit and veg.
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