Veganism is a PragmatismPosted: June 17, 2009
Visions of my post-graduate life are of bucolic bliss in upstate New York, but recently my desire for dirt under my fingernails has taken the pitchfork to my rational mind’s thirst for an overpriced education. I recently picked up my library’s copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver’s exceptionally well written narrative of her family’s trials and success at living solely off of their land has beamed me to the middle of a tilled field amongst a flock of chickens – in no hope of sane return to my Manhattan apartment. Moving back to Manhattan at summer’s end gives me a similar feeling to when a nurse approaches me with a butterfly needle to make sure I’m getting enough iron – nausea accompanied by self-pitying tears.
I’m aware of the disconnect between the grocery store produce in my fridge and its original parent soil (which explains my loyalty to my local farm and farmer’s market), but Kingsolver’s witty observations about the minutiae of conventional food wisdom has increased my perception for typically overlooked food offenses. My boyfriend and I were in Shop Rite the other day to pick up ingredients for enchiladas when we stopped by the “vine ripened” tomatoes. He picked out a rich red, plump bunch and examined the penny-sized sticker on one of the tomatoes: “Product of Holland.” However, the considerably larger pricing sign would have you believe that these tomatoes were grown in the vicinity of the grocery, or at least the United States. The sign read: “Home Grown Taste.”
Thankfully my own tomato plants are chest high and showing signs of future edibles:
Similarly as strange, my mom and I were eating breakfast one morning when I reached for her jar of Stop and Shop brand apple jelly. I wasn’t surprised to find high fructose corn syrup as one of the ingredients, but I was shocked to see corn syrup as one of the ingredients in her ultra-pasteurized half and half. I stand by my choice to no longer drink milk…corporate milk, that is.
Veganism was a way for me to stick it to the corporate food conglomerates who force animals into CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) for the sake of “increased production,” i.e. more profit in less time. But being vegan means eliminating things from my diet mainly because the big guys render them inedible due to unnecessary animal cruelty. It makes sense to bring down the bearers of bad behavior by not giving them my honest money, but then I realized a more productive and tastier mode of food anarchy: making cheese in my own newly renovated kitchen. Barbara Kingsolver assured me in her book that making cheese is not the stuff of legend (I no longer vision a provincially dressed man surrounded by infinite wheels of Brie as he stirs something in a barrel). All I need is a few stainless steel pots, the rennets and cultures which you can buy online from the “Cheese Queen,” and some ethical (and tasty) local milk from local, happy cows. Ok, so obviously eating cheese is a grave violation of the vegan canon, but I feel justified in supporting local farmers – the people that industrial operations are driving into poverty. Perhaps I am a pragmatist after-all.
Once my paycheck from waiting on grumpy, golf savvy lawyers clears, I’m going to order the rennets and cultures. I’ll have my ethical cheese, and be able to eat it too.