you may have heard that there's no ethical consumption under capitalism... but why not try?

When you buy an apple at the grocery store, a meal at a restaurant, or a coffee from your neighborhood shop, do you ever consider the steps that it took to get that item to you? You’re the last point on a chain of contact that started months (or years!) before, as seeds were planted or when that seasons’ blossoms started growing. Before ending up on your plate, it went through numerous hands and consumed gas on its way to get to you. With your purchases, you are supporting each person along this train from the farmer, animals, farm hands, distributors, packers, drivers, and grocery/restaurant staff. 

The purpose of this article is to begin to think about where is your money going when you buy food. Who are you supporting? How is that aligning with the values that you hold in your every day life? Think about it: do you know where your food is coming from? Who your dollar is affecting? What energy has been consumed in the process of the growth and transportation of your meal? In what way can you be a more conscious consumer?

We often don’t think about the way our food choices affect us outside of the impact on our health (and, even then, it can be easy to block that out once Girl Scout Cookie season rolls around, or when you have multiple holiday parties to attend). How frequently have you picked something up in a grocery store and considered how it’s aligned with your values? Getting clear on what you care about around your food consumption the first step in becoming a conscious consumer and eater.

Values held around food look different for each person. Begin by thinking about what you value in life. How you want the future to look, and how does the way that you live reflect that vision? Ask yourself questions about what it is you’re passionate about, and how that aligns with your food consumption behaviors. Some questions to begin with may be:

Do you feel strongly about restorative agriculture, and want a future that has restored the soil and Earth?  Do you buy local?

Are you an animal lover who wants to support businesses that see animals as sentient beings? Do you buy foods made from animal products?

Do you hold in esteem the mantra “do no harm”? Are you aware of the practices performed by companies that you buy from? Are you supporting companies that ethically source their ingredients?

What is the reality like for the animals and people involved within the process of your food getting to you?

This isn’t to say that there isn’t balance to be found, or that you’re doing a poor job if you aren’t doing everything you possibly can. Making small changes in the direction that you want to go can make huge changes to our environment and to the owners of businesses. So: check in. See what your money is going to. Revisit and redefine your values, and how what you’re eating corresponds to what you value. Practice this with grace for yourself, for others, and for the love of everyone involved.

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