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Friday, March 05, 2004



This post reminded me of a “moral dilemma” that was raised for me last summer. I have chosen to follow a vegan diet in addition to eating as much organic and local foods as possible. However, for the past 7 years I have waitressed at a restaurant that serves primarily meat dishes. (The exception is a single vegetarian option). I found myself going home each night, heavy hearted and feeling quite hypocritical. On one hand I would not support the meat industry by consuming its products, yet I was relying indirectly on it for my livelihood - hence, my “moral dilemma”. Unfortunately, I rely on this job to support myself and have found no other means to pay my bills. This is in large part due to the fact that I have forgone the typical American career oriented mentality that insists success means a steady, reliable nine-to-five job with retirement and insurance security. So throughout the summer, I struggled with my situation. In the end, I decided to do what I could within the circumstances. For starters, I implemented a composting program at the restaurant as a means of processing the waste in a useful and sustainable manner. Secondly I made a bold proposal to the owner and manager, who had recently purchased land, that for the next summer, I grow organic vegetables for the restaurant. Not only did they agree, they were also willing to financially support such an endeavor. So I have been spending the past few months with my head buried in books, reading and learning how to grow veggies in a sustainable manner. I recognize that I will probably never be able to fully provide the restaurant with all of the produce it needs. But, I will be able to provide a certain amount of local, organic produce that might otherwise be ordered from elsewhere. I also do not expect the first few years to be profitable, which means realistically, I will still need to waitress for the time being. However, I feel that this is a start. It is a move in the right direction. It is a way to make a difference, even if it is a small one. For this is all that each of us can do. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”


Out of curiosity, how do they classify the eggs produced by the chickens on the floor, since "free range" isn't an option?


"First we went to the barn which I'll be working on. A retrofit which will allow a new flock of birds to roam free on the floor. This is not free range, just not caged. The company is making this move because there is a market demand for these eggs and if they don't get it going they will lose out this market to a competitor. It won't be any real revenue maker, simply a marketing tool."

Believe it or not, even though this is not done so on the owner's thoughtfulness or heart it is still a positive move. See the real tool to making conditions better and possibly even really scalling down the meat consumption in this country is inevitably done primarily through improving regulations and through market trends. If more and more people want free range, which this farmer doesn't seem to really be doing, then thats how farmer's will change because they won't be able to sell their products.

I became a vegetarian (who only eats small amounts of cheese, wild salmon and fish oil supplements) mostly because I believe it is a healthier lifestyle. But as time goes by I find myself inevitably being draw to animal rights issues. But the boycott of animal products by vegans and vegetarians and a general desire from people to eat less meat and animal products is a good combination to making more progess.


in the years since this visit, i now have layer hens of my own. a small flock, only a dozen. they are free ranging and grazing in the pasture and forest. if anyone is interested in top quality eggs and is in the local area (willamette valley, oregon), please contact me. happiness guaranteed!

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