It Started with an Egg: How to Shop Ethically, One Step at a Time

October 16, 2015

Eggs - woodleywonderworks - How to Shop Ethically One Step At A Time

Ok, I ripped off that line from Jenny Rosenstrach’s ever-referred-to (by me) book, Dinner: A Love Story. She has a chapter entitled “ It Started with an Egg”, where she describes eating her first organic egg at age 31, and her home’s “private food revolution” that followed. For me, too, it started with an egg. Not a revolution of “real” food or organics or upgrading the flavor profile of my pantry, but a revolution of small-steps to shopping ethically.

I like food shopping, and I’ve always felt pretty good about the money I spend and the value of good, wholesome food in our lifestyle. But I did, at one point, start to wonder about the ethics of it all. I watched Food Inc. on Netflix and it confirmed that Monsanto is evil and soy & corn are in everything and fruit travels too far and meat, oh meat…

Where to even begin?

It’s tough not to be overwhelmed by it all. The moral conscience of letting your mind roam to those places, and the worry of increasing spending, and the feeling that it should be all or nothing.

With a family of five and a slim-ish budget, I certainly couldn’t overhaul our food shopping completely. But one thing I couldn’t shake was the eggs. The image of chickens packed wide & deep & high, laying eggs and shitting on each other. It all sounded pretty bad to me, and I finally wanted out.

A regular dozen eggs at my local grocery store is about $2-$3. A dozen free range eggs is more like $5. More than double! When you’re in the grocery store, and you have a hundred decisions like that, it can be paralyzing. You think, “If I want to shop more ethically, I guess it means doubling my entire grocery bill! I can’t do that! Forget it!”

Then I read someone mention that to buy free range eggs instead of regular eggs was like one cup of coffee. Huh. A shift in perspective. I would occasionally buy a latte at Starbucks without blinking an eye; can’t I start buying free range eggs without blinking an eye, too?

So I did. I didn’t change the entire grocery bill, but I did increase it by $3. I was shopping ethically, one step at a time. Now, I don’t feel anything when I open up the cooler, other than the confidence of a purchase I feel good about.

What about you? Any small changes you have taken on in your grocery or home spending that you feel good about? Tell me, so that I can see if it works for me!

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