When I first started out this business, I had a very clear about its goals, everything was black and white. I picked the issues that mattered to me most overall;
high animal welfare
and seasonal eating
…and created a strict, set in stone ethos from the principles which would guide me in any decision making I had to do where I had reached a moral or ethical crossroads.
There were of course other issues such as GMO’s, artificial pesticides, mono culture etc. that also mattered to me, but in order to keep things affordable to the masses, I would stick to those three principles alone.
However, as time has passed, the deeper I’ve looked down the rabbit hole and question everything about what happens to our food. As a result the less I’ve been able to sideline the other issues. Who am I to say that local sourcing is more important than organic farming? The issue is far from simple and even nowadays when presented with a choice between some fantastic looking pesticide free tomatoes vs some organic tomatoes from further afield that are twice the price, it’s a difficult call to make.
I’ve since expanded those three principles to a much larger set which you can see below.
If I’ve learned anything from these last 3 years of trading is that in order to truly be guided by your principles, you have to adapt, evolve and constantly reassess what is important to you, question yourself and everything around you. You must take that step into the looking glass and take nothing as truth.
Running a business with the ethics as the main priority and not the making of money is always going to be more difficult. One has a clearly defined set goal and in order to achieve that goal of maximum profits you often must make sacrifices in principles in order to remain competitive on price. But with a set of principles that are set in stone so rigidly, unable to bend, it can make the task of making money or even making any profit at all, all that more challenging.
“To encourage and educate customers wherever possible in order for them to develop a better relationship with the food that they eat”
This was one of my most important sentences in my mission statement when I first sketched out the plan for The Troll’s Pantry. All around me I saw a sick world, where food, the very thing that was supposed to nourish and strengthen us, give us life, was reviled as this horrid toxic substance that made us fat, gave us cancer and made us feel worthless. No thanks to the mass media, big pharmaceutical companies and a whole host of other soul sucking industries that have everything to gain from our ill health.
What kind of world had we become?
But tired of being cynical and defeatist I had finally decided to try and do something about it. So I set out this guiding principle in the hope that I could reach out to others and really make them question this negative thinking about food. Even if my efforts only made a small difference, it’s surely better than living your entire life making no difference at all.
So the world was sick and burgers were the remedy. What better than the ultimate perceived junk food, presented beautifully without all that attached guilt about factory farming, additives and the like? People could have their beefcake and eat it too, all they had to do was care a bit about where there food came from.
We’re all bewildered and lost in the dark when it comes to what to eat.
We’re stuck in this cycle of abuse. Constantly told certain foods are killing us whether it be gluten, saturated fats, sugar, meat, we feel that if we don’t cut all these things out then we are doomed as failures, modern day drop outs, lacking the self-discipline and superiority that makes us matter in today’s world. So one half of us ends up living miserably, never enjoying the tastes of juicy ground beef, or the soft elasticity of a freshly baked loaf. The other half have already resigned themselves to failure and accepted that they are too weak minded to be as disciplined as the first group, so we may as well just smoke a pack of cigs and go on a Dorito binge.
But there is another way.
There is a middle ground, a rational objective path that doesn’t rely on slogans, quick fixes or hysteria. It relies on common sense, research, critical thinking and overall trusting your instincts.
It’s not easy.
There have been so many lies and there are so many hidden agendas when it comes to our food, getting to the bottom of the matter can be a mine field. Take the recent news about margarine actually being terrible for us. Only ten years ago it was being promoted as the saviour of humanity. We’d all lead longer lives, have slimmer waists and feel 20 years younger. Now all of a sudden people are telling us cholesterol can be good too? In fact we’re probably not all getting enough of it?
I understand all your frustrations and why many of you have now ceased to care. However I implore you all not to give up, not to resign yourselves to a choice between two miserable existences. Food is a glorious thing and we should all exercise the freedom to not only enjoy it, but celebrate it. We need to give ourselves all a break and start enjoying life and our food.
But in a world so messed up, with so many contradictory opinions, knowing what to eat is hard. In my new series of blog posts I will take a good hard look at some modern day food issues and come up with practical solution and recipes that will encourage us all to feel better about our relationship with our food.
I shall not claim to know the absolute truth about anything. I am not a scientist, nor a trained nutritionist. Instead I will show you both sides of the argument and implore you to take a good hard common sense look at what’s in front of you and decide for yourselves what’s important to you.
The next instalment will about our relationship with fats where I’ll be taking a good hard look at the oil and fat industry in light of our recent removal of any oils refined with industrial solvents and switching to using only extra virgin olive oils and in house rendered animal fats.