You want to support your local market so you buy from local farmers and producers. You want to know that your veggies and fruits were grown sustainably (momentarily disregarding the uselessness of that term according to Wendell Berry), and that your meat was raised and put down with dignity. You want to eat wholesomely sourced food because it benefits your local economy, and you can feel the difference it makes in your body.
So what happens when the people around you, good friends and nice neighbors, serve you food that you know was not wholesomely sourced? I’m talking CAFOs, synthetic-pesticide drenching, GMOs and modern slavery immigrant worker conditions.
How do you smile and eat that plate of food that you might not even call food at all?
I’ve had to ask myself this question on several occasions, and making these Peach Shortbread Mini-pies brought on similar anxiety. I used commercial white flour and commercial castor and ‘light brown’ sugar in the recipe for the crust and the filling. From the moment I considered making these mini-pies, I knew I’d have to use these ingredients along with all the other local and organic ones I had on hand. I immediately felt the nasty weight of compromise. I was settling, supporting the system, perpetuating the very values I stand against.
I made these mini-pies anyway. And so-help-me-God, they were delicious.
Where our food comes from matters, how we prepare it matters, and how we feel when and after we eat also matters. I’m happy I made these mini-pies (special thanks to Laura in the Kitchen for the shortbread crust recipe). Of course, that doesn’t negate the fact that I have no idea where some of the ingredients came from, and that I hate that I don’t know. However, being happy about making and eating these is nothing to feel guilty about.
As much as we may try to not support this broken food system, we still live in it daily. Sometimes, we just have to balance our food choices and habits as much as we can while still asking ourselves these hard questions. And when we can’t make the decisions we would prefer to make, we should at least try to enjoy and be happy about the hopefully delicious outcomes of those uncomfortable decisions.