Out of all food trends and culinary lifestyle choices, there is one which people are often most passionate about, especially university students: ethical eating. But for many, it seems like too much of a hassle or too time-consuming to bother adopting.
In my first piece for ‘The Gee Spot’ I aim to show, based on my own experiences, that not only is eating ethically the right thing to do, but it can actually be easy as well, and it even allows people to express their creative side through cooking dishes they otherwise wouldn’t have.
But first let’s take a moment to think about the ugly truth, the hush-hush when it comes to food, though. A dairy cow mother is forced to give birth every year to keep her producing milk. Its calf, barely a day old, can’t walk, hasn’t seen sunlight, has only experienced a few of the vast array of emotions it can have (only those relating to fear), and if all goes well for our dear farmers, it won’t get to eat for the first time until the next day. Then, three days later, it is likely to be slaughtered as ‘waste’.
Now let’s cross the road to the chickens that supply our eggs and tender breast fillets. Crammed into cages, all stacked upon one another, they too never see daylight. Their beaks are cut off using red hot wire, so they don’t hurt each other, and they are bred to grow so unnaturally fast that their legs cannot carry their own body weight, crippling them and often causing premature death. When you think about it, it’s really quite unfortunate that there’s so much waste of life because so many animals, in modern factory and dairy farming, die before they are supposed to due to the way they are treated.
The idea that this is a common occurrence makes everyone a little uncomfortable. We all shuffle in our seats, look the other way and hope the ‘hippie’, brown rice and lentils, vegetarian down the road protests enough and showers so minimally that it makes up for what we don’t want to do ourselves – to make a choice or change that betters the lives of someone (or something) else.
But, as any psychology student can tell you, attitudes are most easily changed through modifying behaviours first. I myself only stopped eating meat two months ago, and it didn’t even start for ethical reasons. I wanted to make a change in my life and, as food and cooking is such a huge part of who I am, I thought this particular alteration could open my mind and make me a little more respectable, even if only in my own eyes.
As a student myself – and even though I’m studying to be a pastry chef – I find it hard to maintain a good diet. Money, for one thing, seldom comes enough, let alone time, energy and a general desire to eat really well. I hope to inspire other students to follow me in making conscious decisions to eat good quality, local food. And at the end of the day, it isn’t really that hard.
There are plenty of recipes people can use, and a heap of places right here in South Australia to get good quality ingredients from.
I’ve recently discovered and fallen in love with a new vegetarian cookbook by English chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, called ‘Plenty’. There are a range of amazing recipes anyone can use, but one dish in particular has caught my attention: shakshuka. Based on cooking down vegetables slightly and then cracking an egg in to make a delicious ‘baked egg’, the meal is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is super quick and can be made with any vegetables.
I added eggplants and zucchini that I found at the Adelaide Farmers Market at the Wayville Showgrounds to this recipe. If you dont have the spices or herbs, dont stress – swap them around with others (like basil, ground cumin or corriander, paprika or tumeric) to suit your taste.
South Australia is a state blessed with an amazing array of good quality food and wine. There are a huge number of famers throughout the Adelaide Hills, down through McLaren Vale all the way to the Barossa Valley who produce meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, olive oil and internationally recognised wines. Although there are of course farms and products from interstate that are ethical and of a high quality, I believe it is good to support our local farmers as well. Below is a list of just a few places and products I’ve found that are predominantly local, ethical and environmentally-friendly. I found most of these on an ethical food guide website, which lists companies, who owns them, and a rating of their products. I encourage others to read through this site.
– BD Farm Paris Creek (dairy products)
– Liddells Vic (dairy products)
– Coorong Angus Beef
– Limestone Free Range Beef
– Fryars Kangaroo Island (eggs)
– Gumview Free Range Eggs (SA)
– Sunny Queen Free Range Eggs (QLD)
– Mount Barker Free Range Chicken
– Freedom Farms NSW (chicken)
– Skara Smallgoods (pork)
This is only a small handful of what is available to buy from markets and selected supermarkets today, however it is important to look into the brands that you are buying so that you know that it is good quality and ethical. And although this may be a stretch for the young’uns, the farmers markets can be an amazing place to find great products. It’s really cheap and you can talk to a lot of the stall holders involved in the making or growing of the produce. Look up your local markets and get a little inspired. Food tastes better when you know that it’s natural, chemical-free and sustainable.
As a student it’s not easy to eat properly in general, let alone ethically, but we all want to make a difference in this world and eating ethically is an easy place to start. Google some good companies or next time you’re at the shop, do a quick check on where the product is from – smart phones are really as amazing as they seem! It’s not fair for us to put our need to eat above an animal’s right to not suffer pain. Let’s help out the helpless and make the next tender breast fillet one from a happy chicken.