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About three weeks ago I kind of made a decision. I say kind of because it wasn’t a very conscious decision but more of a logical step that just seemed to happen.

I became something of a vegetarian.

Wait. Stop. Don’t throw your hands up in anger just yet! I know that for many this is a cardinal sin and until only a couple of months ago I too would take great pleasure in mocking vegetarians about the absurdity of their dietary requirements. Just hear me out a little.

The truth is I’m not entirely a vegetarian. What I’m aiming for is more localtarian but this is my first step. I don’t have any ethical issues with the actual consumption of meat, nor do I get very sentimental about the treatment of the poor wee animals in its production. My concerns are primarily social and ecological.

This year I’ve taken two ethics classes, one on economics and one on technology, which have taught me a huge amount and challenged me on many things. One of those is how the production of our food impacts our environment and our human relationships and, more so, the potential that our food has to positively impact these things!

Food that is produced on mass, under the auspices of a few multi-national corporations, in highly controlled environments that rely primarily on technology, I believe, is incredibly destructive. In order to grow more cheaper and sell more bigger we have compromised the integrity of our food production. We’ve lost crop variety, become reliant on pesticides, farmed so intensively that the land cannot cope, manipulated the biology of our livestock, increased the amount of waste and pollution from the industry and robbed farmers of their craft. It’s not right that a supermarket chain can dictate the length, diameter, colour and straightness of the carrots I eat. Nor is it right that they can tie a farmer into a contract which allows them to give him three days notice for a full harvest. We have become so detached from the reality of nature and the reality of our food. We don’t know what’s in it or how it is produced. I no longer want to be a part of that system. 

I want to know where my food comes from. And I mean know as in more than a country of origin on a label. I want to be able to visit that farm and see the crops that could one day end up on my table. I want a farmer who understands how the land works, how to care for and conserve it as much as, if not more than, his profit margins. I want a farmer who respects her livestock and sees it as a part of the bigger cycle of nature, rather than just meat to be fattened up and consumed. I want my food to have used as little oil as possible – in feed, in fertiliser, in packaging and in shipping.

Maybe I’m being idealistic. Perhaps this is completely utopian, fine for me as an individual but unrealistic if we’re to feed the world. Fine. I’m okay with that. I’m going to work on the log in my own eye first and maybe someday I’ll get to the speck in my brother’s. So I’m not going to buy or cook meat for the foreseeable future (my one exception will be an In’n’Out burger when I get to California – if you’ve had one, you’ll understand) and I’ll be looking in to more local fruit and veg very soon. I should point out that if other people buy and prepare the meat, I’m going to be okay with eating it because I won’t have directly contributed to the industry, so friends and flatmates can rest easy. It’s a Romans 1:20 kind of thing.

Localtarianism. I like it.


Six Items or Less

Some people are taking part in a brilliant experiment called 6 Items or Less.

One month with only 6 items of clothing (not including underwear, accessories etc).

They say they don’t really have a philosophy behind it all. I love it though.

I don’t know about you but I have a very full wardrobe. In fact, I had to remove a suitcase worth of clothes from it before I could get the clothes I brought back from university into it.

Too. Many. Clothes.

I know I can survive with far fewer. I have stupid amounts of very similar items. Why do I keep buying things?!

And don’t even get me started on shoes . . .

Can I buy a banana?

I went to a church cell group for the first time the other night. Every third week someone in the group brings an issue they’s like to discuss and this week it was consumerism. I fear I may have scared them a little with my outspokenness; you know how my rants can usually go!

We simplified it a little by taking the case of a banana.

A banana which must be flown a few thousand miles around the earth for us to eat (creating lots of global warming causing carbon dioxide); which was likely produced using lots of chemical fertilisers and on a patch of ground which had been deforested (more environment issues there); the person who grew it probably endures difficult working conditions and is paid less than we would consider a living wage (humanitarian issues arise here).

The simple answer would appear to be: lets just not eat bananas. However, if we do that we’re removing an important, if meagre, income from the lives of a number of people. Those at the bottom of the consumer chain are in need of the little wages they do make to survive, can we really just cut that off?

So should we then just buy Fairtrade? This is a tricky one I’m going to need to look in to more because, depending on who you talk to, Fairtrade apparently isn’t always as fair as you would think.

The solution then . . . well, we didn’t have one.

I think it’s important for everyone, and especially Christians to be aware of what and where they are buying. We ought to be ethically minded; the difficulty comes when we appear to have to prioritise ethical issues.

The main point that was made was that if we adjust our lifestyle to be more ethical, do we do it from the point of “this is what I want, how can I get it more ethically” or “this is what I can get, so this is what I’ll have”?

My answer would be option two. I’m still more than up for complete self sufficiency. Ashley and I are going to plant kiwi trees (don’t ask). I’m aware it doesn’t have all the answers but it also means I can produce no more than I need, in an organic and ethical fashion.

Capital Punishment

My friend Ben posted something interesting on his blog – Not At The Dinner Table – the other day about why he thinks there is biblical evidence to support capital punishment here in the 21st century. Today I finally got round to writing a response which you can read in the comments section (though I’d wait until you have more than a couple of minutes, it’s not exactly light reading!)