Bombarded with advice about what you should and shouldn’t be eating? Thought so. Information overload is a really serious problem when it comes to making ethical shopping decisions. Should we buy Australian to support local businesses, buy organic or buy from companies with a good ethical rating?
I have been known to spend literally hours meandering through supermarket aisles, phone in hand, with my indispensible Shop Ethical app (http://www.ethical.org.au/get-involved/resources/shop-ethical-app/) open, but unless you have four hours to decide which brand of tinned tomatoes to buy (a MINEFIELD, by the way) then here are some simple tips to get you started on a simple, fuss-free pathway to a happier, sustainable and more positive gastronomic future.
You Care about Humans
- Australia has pretty strict workplace health and safety regulations so anything that is not uber-processed and that is produced here is probably okay to buy from a human rights perspective.
- If you are buying coffee, tea or chocolate then it will most likely have come from a developing country where workplace regulations are a lot less stringent than they are here. Buy fair-trade wherever possible to give producers in developing countries a fair go and help support the production of these essential (and freaking delicious) products.
- Shop locally and avoid large supermarket chains whenever possible. They tend to monopolise the market and push prices down for smaller producers, as well as putting Gary the Greengrocer and Bob the Butcher out of business.
- Avoid buying the cheapest milk, eggs, and meat – it is usually cheap for a reason.
You Care about Animals
- Buy free-range and organic meat, milk and eggs whenever you can, or actually, just buy it always.
- Eat less meat. We all eat way too much meat (bad for us, bad for the planet and very bad for the animals), so why not go flesh-free for a few days each week? You could buy yourself a beautiful organic leg of lamb on Sunday as a reward, and you will feel better inside your body and inside your mind. I promise.
- When you eat out, ask if the meat or eggs you want to order are free-range. This may seem embarrassing at first, but if we all did it then restaurant owners would have to sit up and take notice. It’s up to them to know where the food they are serving comes from and how it has been produced. Even if the answer is no, at least you have made a valuable point and your choice will be an educated one.
You Care about the Environment
- Eat local. By avoiding foods that have travelled a long way before hitting your plate, you can easily reduce your carbon footprint. The bonus is that your food will taste better and have more nutrients, so you will be healthier and, well, just all-round more of a hottie.
- Avoid over-processed and over-packaged foods. The less energy that has gone into refining, processing and packaging our food, the better. (Seriously, what is with those teeny stickers on fruit and vegetables? You may need to hit your local farmers’ market if you want to avoid these nasties – it’s like a plague!)
- Eat sustainable seafood. I know this sounds super-boring but if you want your kids to EVER taste tuna or flake then it is not a joke, kids! Check out the Marine Conservation Society’s awesome booklet, mini-guide or get the free app (http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au/Sustainable-Seafood-Guide-Australia.asp?active_page_id=695), which rates each type of fish and tells you which ones to avoid.