Saturday, May 29, 2010

What are our choices for eating out?

Faced with the dilema of enjoying food & eating out but an environmental consciousness leads to feelings of guilt if you suspect the food is not ethically sourced.

Some of the concerns - overfishing, meat & egg production, unseasonal produce, food miles!

How do you consider all these when you just want to eat a tasty meal at a good restaurant. It is difficult and many of us don't want to be rude and ask questions about the source of the food.

But maybe a couple of things you can consider:
  • There are some restaurants that will give a description if the food is free-range, local, in-season, organic.  Try to support these guys who choose to give you information.
  •  Choosing fish - many of us love fish but don't cook it so see it as a good option when eating out
    • do they say what sort of fish it is?  if not, it may be a standard species that is overfished or farmed
    • salmon & barramundi are very common these days but will come from a farm, so avoid unless they're listed as 'wild'
    • standard fish & chips is made with Flake - which is shark and very unsustainable
    • make yourself familiar with better fish & seafood choices such flathead or squid, so if they're on the menu you can choose them 
  • You may feel like a food that is more suited to the season, and some places are more likely to serve more seasonal dishes, such as heavier, root vegetable type  in winter, or fresh salad or fruit in summer.
  • Just because your eating out doesn't mean you have to eat meat.  
    • Do you eat meat at every meal? we don't need to eat meat more than a few times a week to get enough nutrients from it.
    • The more people that choose vegetable dishes, the more restaurants will provide them.  As someone who doesn't eat red meat, and doesn't like eating chicken & fish out unless I know where they've come from, I despise going to restaurants where there is only 1 or 2 vegetarian choices. Meat is not the centre of our lives.
  • consider food miles.
    • is the main ingredient from a country far away?  is there something produced locally on offer?
  • Drink choice.
    • imported wine and beer is nice, but there is often a good local option instead.  save trying the imported stuff for when you visit that country.
  • and lastly, are you going to leave food on the plate?
    • food waste is not sustainable. order what you know you can eat. you can always get something else if you are still hungry afterwards.