Taste a small part of the green debate

Ethical Eating, by Angela Crocombe

By Louise Johnson
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Ethical Eating by Angela Crocombe

Ethical Eating by Angela Crocombe [©Penguin Books - Australia]


With so many food choices available the business of helping us decide what to eat is booming. Messages come from both ends of the food and health spectrums – multi-national corporations, whose profits depend on us choosing their products, as well as ethical and environmental groups, who encourage us to eat more sustainably.

Most literature on the ethical and environmental point of view is US-centric and it comes as no surprise that America, whose population face the highest rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases of any nation, is in quite a pickle. But I am not an American and find it difficult to relate to many of their lifestyle choices, let alone their diets.

It is refreshing to find Angela Crocombe’s Ethical Eating, which is the first book to give a purely Australian perspective to the problem of making ethical and sustainable food choices.

“While the issues of ethical eating are complicated, the answers are often quite simple,” says Angela. “The more unprocessed, seasonal, organic foods you can consume, the better for the environment and for your own health. Cutting down on meat consumption is particularly helpful. And the more you sit down to eat with family or friends the better.”

It seems Angela is advocating a very pleasant way of living.

I have a personal rule not to eat anything that my grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. She was an Anglo-Saxon meat and three vegies, cake-baking sort of lady. I adopt a friend’s grandmother when it comes to choosing Asian foodstuffs and find these food choices are much easier, with most recipes focusing on fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and small amounts of red meat.

Ethical Eating is written with the express intention of enabling Australian consumers to make educated, informed food choices that “won’t cost the earth”. It’s divided into detailed chapters such as “organic and biodynamic farming”, “fruit and vegetables, “chicken and eggs” and offers a good directory and background of “ethical eating movements”. There are some great shopping tips and an extensive supplier guide to help you source options discussed in the pages.

Of special interest to wine lovers in the “drinks” chapter, in particular those pages dedicated to wine production, the use of preservatives, the cork vs. screw cap debate, plastic wine bottles and organic and biodynamic wines. Yes, there is more to all these topics that just how they affect the taste of wine.

Angela isn’t complimentary of modern viticulture techniques, particularly those employed in large scale wine production. She quotes British wine expert Monty Waldin, who has said “Australia is on of the worst offenders when it comes to using high levels of chemicals on grapes and that we have the most over-mechanised vineyard in the planet, using polluting machinery to tend the grapes”.

The hand-made approach employed by many smaller estates is preferable – Angela encourages wine lovers to support these boutique winemakers.

As we focus more of our attention on the origins and quality of what goes into our mouth, and as the voices behind global warming, climate change and green living grow louder, Ethical Eating offers a local perspective on an international debate. It’s well worth a read.

Ethical Eating by Angela Crocombe is published by Penguin Australia, RRP $24.95

VisitVineyards.com members and subscribers can purchase Ethical Eating from our online book partner Seekbooks at a discount of 12.5 percent off the RRP.


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August 05th, 2009
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