photo by Jeff Keen

photo by Jeff Keen

I have a confession to make.

  I am not a food purist.

 After I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, my appetite was shot. I was obsessed with food ingredients and genetically-modified crops. When I read Jane Goodall’s Harvest for Hope, I stopped eating meat for a month. My husband began drooling over sausage commercials. I wanted to save the world; but first, I had to feed my family.

  •  Should I buy the lower-priced organic meat that is 2 hours away, or the local grass-fed meat?
  • Should I buy the large jar of unsweetened applesauce with no high fructose corn syrup that will keep for a month, or out-of-season organic apples that could go bad?
  • What if my friend makes a sandwich for me? Should I ask her where the meat came from, and if it’s ethically-raised? Do I want to be THAT person?
  • Can I afford the organic dairy products, or should I get the locally produced rBGH-free?
  • If we pack a meal for the car in ziplock baggies, is that better for the environment than dinner at McDonald’s?
  • Is it better to serve my children organic frozen vegetables I know they will eat, or chance wasting the bok choi they hated from our CSA?

 I don’t have it all figured out for myself, and I certainly can’t tell you what’s best for you.

 I can tell you this: I will try to give you meal ideas that are sustainable, organic, local, and ethical. Not everything will satisfy all four, because I insist they also be affordable and practical. Those are two vital missing pieces from the sustainable food discussion. If it were cheap and easy, everyone would do it, right? I do what I can, and keep trying to improve.

 I posted a comment recently on a blog, where I got schooled on my imperfect solution to a boxed macaroni meal. It was quick, used less packaging, added fresh cheese and butter instead of powdered cheese, and added real, if frozen, vegetables. I wish I would have mentioned the noodles were locally produced with two, real food ingredients, the cheese and butter were hormone free, and the vegetables were organic. But no matter, others quickly pointed out that the vegetables weren’t local or seasonal.

 They were right. I could do better. We can all do better, but I hope that doesn’t stop us from doing what we can.