Food with a conscience is something most of us want more and more. We visit the supermarket and try to think beyond what we want on our plate. Yes, we want healthy food, but we also want to know where the food comes from.
However, the more we have to buy, the more difficult it is to keep track of our good conscience. And if both parents have a busy and demanding job, there is little time and energy left to be mindful of what we buy and eat.
That’s why I’ve made up some rules of thumb for ‘food with a conscience’.
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Table of contents
Shop at a supermarket with a conscience
It will only take a couple of years and the supermarket will be totally automated. You will enter and the cart you choose will automatically recognize you as one of the best customers.
It will also tell you where your stuff is, total the costs of your shopping and deduct it immediately from your bank account. The only thing you have to do, is to put the stuff in the cart.
Now imagine the surprise of the shop’s computer when you decide to totally change your food list. You only want to buy healthy and organic food. Perhaps it’s better not to wait for the computerized shop and to start to buy with a conscience from now on?
Straight from the field
When I lived at home with my parents, shopping was totally different. There were not many supermarkets around.
Our family used to buy food every day. Most of the food was cultivated nearby. Now and then we went to a farmer to pick up what we wanted straight from the field.
I always very much enjoyed going to the shops and the farmers. My brothers and sister hated it. Often, I also spend time with my mother in the kitchen when she prepared the food. When my sister left our home she could not even boil an egg. I was able to prepare a complete dinner.
Related: Grow your own Fruits and Vegetables Sustainably and Tasty
The logistics of a proper meal
From early on this made me understand the importance of the logistics of a proper meal. You have to imagine the way back from the food on your plate to the farmer. And everything that comes in between.
You want your food to be fresh and of good quality when it goes from your plate into your mouth. From your kitchen onto your plate. From the shop into your kitchen. And from the farmer to the shop.
Sharpen your food conscience
Why is it important to know how the food got from the farmer to the shop? A friend of mine told me last he couldn’t care less. Yet, when you’re aware of what the farmer had to do to get the food growing, to harvest it, and get it at the shop, and this all just in time, you will respect the farmer much more, as well as the food.
Besides, you will be better able to understand what you can do with the food. How you have to clean and prepare it. This is also why you should always smell the fresh food you bought. Does it smell different when you cut it? And what about after you prepared it?
This is a very simple way to sharpen your food conscience. Or in modern lingo: to develop a mindful way of eating.
Related: Nutritional Guidelines with a Sustainable Focus
Another advantage, when you know where the food comes from and how it grows, is that you will be able to know what food to buy in the shop.
It will also make you realize that shopping for food with a conscience is not something you can do unprepared. Or by just racing around the supermarket and throwing the same stuff in your cart as last week.
You need to make a list of the things you want to prepare. Or, when you can only go shopping once a week, you need to think back in your mind which meals you want to prepare for the coming week.
This is the more important when you have to watch your budget. Which might also influence your choice of supermarket or specialty shop.
As well as how you go shopping. There was a time I went shopping on my bike once a week. I stopped doing this after I experienced that this was very dangerous. Other traffic participants never calculated the risks I was in, cycling with heavy bags on the luggage carrier.
When your budget is restricted, shopping for food with a conscience is even more of a challenge. Food prices have come down substantially in the past 25 to 50 years. However, with appalling consequences: loss of biodiversity, depleted soil, food without nutrients, etc.
The current costs of food will at the most only take a fifth of your budget. Yet, the food you buy is responsible for half of all the environmental problems.
This is why Hannie and I always buy organic food. Many people say that organic food is far too expensive. At the moment this is still true for about half of the organic foodstuff and mainly for fresh fruits.
Organic onions, leek, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, all sorts of cabbages, even zucchini, eggplant, paprika, and cucumber, are as cheap as their regular versions.
Food with a conscience: rules of thumb
There are some rules of thumb when you want to buy food with a conscience.
- Eat before you step into the supermarket.
- Avoid plastic. “In the supermarket?” I hear you think, “Impossible!” There are however enough alternatives. Try food in cans or glass, when you buy prepared food. For fresh food this is way more difficult in the supermarket, although some supermarkets don’t mind if you bring your own bags.
Still, it is another advantage of organic fruit and vegetable shops. They use paper bags. And Hannie crocheted special cotton nets that weigh almost nothing and are as good as paper bags.
- Buy as much organic as possible. Most supermarkets have organic departments at present.
- Use the smallest cart available. Seducing is an art that must have been invented by supermarkets. A small cart forces you to buy only essentials.
- Plan to avoid food waste. Make a list, on paper, on your mobile, or just in your head of what you need to prepare your meals, for one day, and most certainly for a whole week.
Such a list is important because last year the USA passed the 50% rate of food waste. Meaning that people threw away more than 50% of the food they bought.
Can you add another tip for us? Or do you have a question? Tell us in the comment box below.
6 thoughts on “Food with a Conscience is More than just Healthy Food”
Hi Tom, I want to compliment the topics you choose to write about here. I agree with you, and I’m similar to you in the way of buying my family’s daily food. I prefer to buy fruit, vegetables, and dairy from the farmers. I try to buy as much as I can organic food and fresh vegetables and fruits.
Thank you for such good information and sensibilization about food quality and eating healthy.
Thank you for your comment and compliments.
It’s good to read that there are like-minded people, such as you. We’re very fortunate to have three organic fruit and vegetable shops in close vicinity. We know the farmers where they buy their fresh food. All certified organic farmers.
In contrast, there’s only one organic bakery in the region and no organic butcher. We don’t miss the butcher though. We eat some chicken, turkey, or fish, but only once or twice a week, and in very little quantities. But the chicken and turkey come from a place over 500 kilometers away.
One of the organic shops functions as an intermediary and buys the meat in one great batch for more clients. The quality is very good of the meat, and the fruits, and vegetables. We enjoy it very much.
For now, stay safe, stay healthy.
Honestly, whenever I buy food at the supermarket, I barely choose organic one. It’s just too expensive compared to the “standard” one. For instance, here in Croatia, I can buy potatoes for as little as €0.50 per kilogram, and the organic food is at least €2 per kg. It’s 4 times the price.
Luckily, I’ve relatives who live in the village, and they are growing their own fruits, vegetables, and chickens, so they often give me everything from eggs to apples and potatoes. It’s just impossible to compare that organic food with the one from the supermarkets.
I understand the price of organic foods (it requires a lot of work), but it raises monthly costs.
You’re very lucky to have relatives that grow their own fruits and vegetables. Probably without toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
Here in Spain, many people have friends and relatives that have small huertos (pieces of land) where they grow their own food. However, I don’t trust them to do this without toxics. Too often I’ve seen small farmers spray their fields.
For us, the only option is to buy our organic food in a shop. We’re very fortunate to have an organic shop here in the village. A friend of ours has an organic shop in a village on the coast, about half an hour from where we live. Every fortnight I order the food I need and he brings it to our house.
Yes, you are right, the price of organic food is higher. But even when we had a tight budget, we always stuck to buying organic food. We just leave out other things that we consider less important. It’s all about the choices we want to make. Organic food comes first for us.
For now, stay safe, stay healthy.
I like to buy fruits and vegetables at local food markets. Much of it is locally grown and organic and part of the money goes to the farmers. I live near farmland (in Mexico), however, those proceeds go to the US where they are sold more expensively.
I used to make lists when I went to the grocery store, but by now I have this list in my head, and I always check ingredients and also origins of a product. There are also several Fair Trade products at our grocery store, and I like to buy them too.
I do my best to avoid plastic. I bring my own bags to the grocery store and super markets. Buying cans is tough for me, because I live in the middle of nowhere and there is no trash collection. So, the cans pile up here (a reason why I stopped buying cans), and I have to take them all into town to leave them at a deposit – at the moment I have hundreds of them, and I have not had time to put them in bags and take them to town or I often just forget … I need to get organized this week 😉
Wow, you’re quite organized. Although you might doubt it yourself. I think that comes with the experience.
You buy locally, preferably organic, you check what you buy, you list your shoppings, bring your own bags, avoid plastic, you know where you leave your garbage. Take it from me, this is all only possible when your organized. So stop worrying.
The only thing left are the cans. You don’t have to worry about them either. They wont walk away.
That’s interesting that the proceeds of the farmland where you live go to the USA. It’s the same here. The region of Murcia produces almost 40% of the total fruit and vegetable exports of Spain. This all goes to the richer countries up north, such as Germany, the Scandinavian countries and The Netherlands.
There are several downsides of this. The spraying with pesticides, the plastic covering large parts of the fields, the monotonous produce, the soil is completely without nutrients, and you can hardly buy local organic fruits and vegetables because they’re all exported.
Fortunately, we found some good organic shops that buy locally.
Thank you for your comment.
For now, stay safe, stay healthy.