Meat matters: Why you really do get what you pay for

cow

Most of us will have heard of the recent horse meat scandal, but what other dangers are lurking in our ‘value’ meat, and why should we spend more, when we can buy cheaply?

Well the obvious reason is animal welfare, intensive farming methods cause huge amounts of stress on the livestock animals involved due to cramped conditions, poor quality food and healthcare and the lack of stimulus or the ability to express natural behaviours.

If that does not move you, think of the environment and the people who suffer. Much of the cheap feed used in intensive farms is comprised of soy bean, this ‘green gold’ is farmed mostly in South & Central America and the industry has a history of poor humans rights, including ‘land-grabbing’ and detrimental health problems for the nearby indigenous peoples caused by the prolific use of harsh pesticides and herbicides.

Finally, a little closer to home, think of your health. Poor quality meat is usually produced using antibiotics prophylactically, to prevent disease which spreads quickly in the confined conditions. This is NOT how antibiotics are designed to be used and the viruses and bacteria they are supposed to guard against eventually become resistant, developing into the ‘superbugs’ that you may have heard of.

So, think before you buy, try to go local, go to farmers markets and butchers where you can find out about the sourcing of your meat. Free-range and organic meat is more expensive its true, but boy is it worth it. Trust me, your local Tesco employee will not have much idea about their stock ( nor will they care if my experience is anything to go by), but local farmers and butchers who are passionate about what they do will be happy to answer your questions and discuss their stock.

So go for it! Check the label and explore local shops and markets, you wont be sorry.

Thanks for reading,

Lucy

Is ethical consumerism burning a hole in your pocket?

Is it possible to be an ethical consumer AND save money?

I have been learning about ethical consumerism, supply chains and production, and some of my subsequent purchases seem to be getting more expensive. But the more I learn, and the more used to purchasing ethically I become, the worse I feel contemplating purchases that are -to my mind- unethical.

So, can we purchase ethically and save money? Well, some products are easier to save on than others. Clothing for example, I have always loved vintage and if you shop around you can get some amazingly well made pieces, in beautiful fabrics, at a fraction of the price of new, I recently bought a stunning tweed jacket for £30! On top of that your probably supporting a small business, but a word of warning be careful sourcing from vintage shops in London- many are seriously overpriced!

Whilst we are on the subject of second hand, why not try sourcing furniture from flea markets, second hand shops or freecycle? Individual pieces that you can pick up for practically nothing can give your home a lovely, eclectic feel.

So onto food, I love organic, great for you, great for the planet and definitely great for bees but honestly it is more expensive. I sadly cannot afford to shop exclusively organically so I try to box clever. I often choose to buy the cheaper items of my shop organically, so instead of buying organic blueberries I choose organic leeks. I also always try to buy organic dairy and meat as these farms exercise higher welfare standards and try to have a couple of vegetarian days per week. I can then afford to buy higher welfare meat and not bankrupt myself. Having a meat-free day or two per week also helps to cut your carbon foot print considerably, ruminating animals such as cattle produce huge quantities of methane (a damaging greenhouse gas) so decreasing your demand for meat helps the environment.

Another of my stalwart methods of saving money is making do and mending. Learning to sew has been invaluable and I always try to go for quality rather than quantity when buying products, so they last longer. If I can’t mend I will repurpose.

When birthdays roll around, why not make presents? Or if that is not your cup of tea, check out Etsy, you can pick up some beautiful presents which have been repurposed from found objects. I recently bought a necklace made from an illustration from a children’s book called ‘the boy and the badger’, I love it and not only was it recycled but I was helping local business and it was from the UK so low carbon footprint too! Buying local also supports small businesses and can save you a packet on p&p.

So, coming back to my original question, yes you can save money and be an ethical consumer, but even for the slightly more expensive items I would rather feel good about a purchase than save a few pounds and feel like I have sold my ethics short.

Thanks for reading,

Lucy

@lucylloydslater

My greener life – resolutions for 2014

New_Year_Resolutions

So this year I have read up about ethical consumerism of which I am very passionate, carbon offset credits and carbon footprints, and supply chains. I have modified my consumption trying to buy more high welfare (both human and animal), local, small business, upcycled, recycled, organic and handmade. I have also almost stopped using plastic bags completely.

So, what will I be looking at this year you ask, well please see my resolutions for a greener 2014:

  • Cut out more plastic – I will be looking at the things I use and buy and trying out going ‘plastic free’
  • Try not to buy anything that cannot be recycled
  • Stop using paper cups when I get coffee either sit in or buy a reusable take away cup
  • Have at least one vegetarian day each week

I will probably also continue to be fascinated by supply chains and where products come from, how they are made etc (I blame the last book I read).

I would love to hear your green resolutions, drop me a line on twitter @lucylloydslater

Thanks for reading,

Lucy

Image courtesy of the Guardian