I don’t say this often but I’m really lucky to have BP around. He is a great Dad and a terrific husband. This week he has cooked every night to give me extra time to work on school reports. Today he took Little Fearse to swimming and stayed out of the house for three hours to allow me uninterrupted writing time. I haven’t even thought about the washing this week – it’s just been done. In the past few months I haven’t even stepped foot in a supermarket. BP has done all the supermarket shopping. He’s my blessing. I really appreciate him.
On Thursday, however, I did go to the supermarket. It was an awful experience. Since our BNN year started we’ve been cutting down on stuff but boning up on knowledge. Every new thing we learn about consumerism, advertising or food quality helps us to make more informed choices when we consume. But are we making better choices, or is it just harder?
When I read a package I know I’m being duped, somehow. I just have to read it the right way. But what is the right way? What are they really telling me with their befuddling statistics, deceptive ingredient lists, colourful images and use of words like “natural”, “organic”, “healthy” and “real”?
We used to shop a lot by price. What was our cheapest option per 100ml / 100g? We no longer get tricked by the ‘less is more’ marketing scams. Now we are focusing on buying the best quality – which rarely equates to the best deal. How do we really know we are choosing the most ethical option that is also the best option for our health?
I feel as though every new piece of information conflicts with the last. Don’t buy items containing palm oil. Also, don’t buy from this company, because of that awful thing they did here. Buy fair trade. Buy local. Buy organic. Help this community by buying their something or other but don’t buy this from this place because it’s negatively affecting their communal health.
I’m lost. Am I allowed to buy chocolate? I think the answer is yes, but only if it contains no palm oil (unless you are able to assess that it is sustainable use of palm oil, and then carry on), is not made by Nestle, is locally crafted, contains a high percentage of cocoa and is very dark. It should also be fair trade and organic. If, after you have assessed all of these factors, you still want chocolate and have found one that ticks every box, sure, have one piece. You should really stop after one piece. It’s not good for your health. Where’s your will power? You’re an intelligent person, do you really need chocolate?
Even buying sultanas was a difficult and somewhat distressing choice. They all have the same ingredients – sultanas and oil. The price difference between name brand and no brand is huge. Is there a big quality difference? I DON’T KNOW. I HAVE NO IDEA. JUST CHOOSE SOME FRIGGIN’ SULTANAS.
You know what? I find all the extra knowledge just makes me feel distrustful. I don’t trust what the packaging is telling me. I don’t trust what the nutritional information is telling me. I don’t trust what my body tells me it wants.
I look at food in the super market and I know that I can make it myself. I also know that I don’t have the time to make everything myself. Is the best and most ethical option to go without?
As a society we are obsessed with food. We have too much choice and sometimes, too much knowledge. Am I making better choices? I have no idea. I have less idea than I did before I began.
This is NOT simple.