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    Posted February 6, 2014 by
    Overland Park, Kansas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Do you eat ethically?

    It Takes Time to Develop an Ethical Eating Approach, But It's Worth It


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Andrea Broomfield is a culinary historian and English professor at Johnson County Community College. She is the author of the 2007 book, "Food & Cooking in Victorian England: A History."
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    I have developed strategies for eating ethically over quite a bit of time, and even now, I probably have a ways to go. Michael Pollan has been a significant influence on my habits, starting some time back with a NY Time's piece, "Power Steer" (2002), which drove home to me how industrial farming had gone so terribly wrong. Fast Food Nation played a significant role in my developing an ethical eating plan as well, and perhaps most importantly, Wendell Barry's seminal essay, "The Art of Eating."

    In short, I have taken the following steps, some of them admittedly time-consuming, but also steps that have given me a great appreciation for the way my great grandparents and grandparents would have lived their lives, given how close they were to the food they ate--and the food they grew.

    1. I maintain a large garden with my father-in-law at his home. Gardening takes thought and planning, it takes work, but it also brings me satisfaction that I know what is going in the ground and how it is grown. It has also fostered that kind of spiritual and emotional connection with another person, my father-in-law, and that connection brings me well-being, as does the food from the garden that we grow.

    2. I eat a lot less meat, because meat that has been raised humanely costs more money. I don't think people need to eat much meat anyway. Great grandparents treated meat as a luxury. A fresh-killed chicken was a Sunday dinner specialty. Livestock fattened during the spring and summer, and thus, eating meat during those months was less common than in the winter. It made sense, given that during the winter, people needed more protein and fat to keep going. So, I appreciate meat when I eat it because it is a treat, and it forces me to be more creative with the vegetarian options that are open to me.

    3. I have cultivated good relationships with the people behind the counters at my grocery store. They know me, I know them, and I trust what they tell me about the sourcing of what I am buying. Grocers are busy people; only when they know who I am and I know them--as people, not just as staff--will they volunteer information about the real source of what they are selling. Their know-how helps me stay away from products that are not ethical.

    4. Thank goodness for Fair Trade! If I want chocolate, that's the label I look for, and the same goes for coffee, tea, sugar, and other such indulgences.

    5. Finally, I rely a lot on Slow Food, Food Inc, Food Babe, and other blogs and web sites to help me make smart choices. I use this information to determine what and how I buy, and to keep on my members of Congress informed about issues that affect the well-being of farmers and animals.

    I vote with my wallet, as Pollan asked us to do. Doing so empowers me.
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