Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The long last unethical goodbye

I was recently introduced to Planet Organic, a supermarket just a short walk from where I work in central London, near Tottenham Crt Road. I went and bought lunch there, sat and ate it, and was suddenly struck by a calamitous carrot of conscience. (You get a lot of these alliterations when you grow vegetables.)

It's become a major part of my adult life to eat organic fruit and vegetables (local stuff of course, no asparagus from peru thanks!), and i only ever buy free-range meat. It's an obsession, and I'm sure my friends sometimes get annoyed at my preaching. But now I find myself in a desperately tricky position. When I'm at home it's always simple to act like this. But when you're at work, it's impossible to know how good the food is when you buy lunch.

So I get free-range egg sandwiches regularly (can't have them every day though - think of the smell), but anything else i buy is ultimately unorganic and unethical. I think I've become comfortable with this, and the fact that it's a damn sight cheaper. It's always been easy to say 'it's so difficult to eat ethically when you buy lunch', and excuse myself of the organic duties.

But now it's not difficult, yet I'm torn. Now I'm in the position where it's all to easy for me to buy organic and ethical lunches. I'm in the position where my whole daily life can be an organic pasture of whimsy and happiness. Leo Hickman in the Guardian manages it, but there's a part of me that's clinging onto this small bastion of bad food and living. And what a thing for me to say!

I'm frightened of stepping onto the organic gravy train. It's like putting the last piece into the puzzle, and I really do want to finish it, but my hand has gone to sleep. I'll hate myself forever if I don't take the plunge, but why does it feel like it's one made from the highest diving board?


Jim and Barbara said...

Hi Al

why on earth do you have to BUY lunch? We only have a small plot and have only had it a year, it provides all we need.A couple of sandwich boxes and a bottle of quality olive oil and away you go.Better than anything on sale in Tottenham Court Road.

Clare said...

I have similar experiences of non-organic, 'what terrible things am I doing to the environment' guilt. When we finally bought a car last year (even a devilishly fuel efficient one at that!) after coping all our adult lives without one I felt terrible. Never mind that we seldom use it and we're very good about using public transport...

Same with food and recycling and, well, you name it.

I think that the reality for most people is that we can all only do so much and still survive in the modern world. And no matter how green/organic/ethical we are, there will alawys be more we can do.

So don't beat yourself up - keep up the evangelising and get others who are doing less than you to start to change!!

Al said...

Unfortunately, I'm a little lazy and just never seem able to make a lunchbox in the morning. My plot is also not well enough stocked at present to feed me. I'll get there though - i must keep planting lettuce seeds, I must. Seeing other people's efforts is immensely inspiring, but i'll have to wait til next year to put what I've learnt into practice.

I'd love a little car too, but it's exceptionally hard to justify it in London. Admittedly, I'm on the outskirts in sunny Crystal Palace, and it would be very handy for getting compost and flower pots, but I just can't. Although Katie would love a Figaro!

I think I might start slowly, and go organic twice a week. Free-range egg and cress on the other days. I have to be realistic...

Jim and Barbara said...

Hi Al

we are at Sydenham top of Crystal Palace Park Road so will leave you all my excess veg in the phone box on the corner in a plain brown package, supply your own olive oil though.