A carrot isn’t just a carrot anymore. Today, the question of what to eat is loaded with implications about the life you live, your views on health, animal rights, farming, and the food future you envision for yourself and your family.  This means that the side dish you may have roasted for last night’s dinner came sprinkled with salt, pepper and politics.

What is the true origin of your carrots? Are they organic or pesticide-coated? Local or trucked from across country? Part of a seasonal CSA box or purchased on sale from your neighborhood grocery store?

It’s good to ask these questions and to know more about our food system, but as Michael Pollan points out in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, it can easily produce a fair amount of stress.  

“As a culture we seem to have arrived at a place where whatever native wisdom about eating has been replaced by confusion and anxiety. Somehow this most elemental of activities—figuring out what to eat—has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help.”

Of all the questions surrounding the food industry, one of the most basic we each must ask ourselves is What exactly should we be eating? The resources below are designed to give you the tools to learn more about the three most popular ways to eat, but the questions don't end here.

As a vegetarian, will you eat fish? If so, all fish, or only sustainable varieties? For omnivores, there are questions surrounding how often you will eat meat, which farms your meat will be sourced from, and if you’ll buy corn fed or grass fed beef. For vegans, will you ease in, gradually giving up dairy, or commit entirely by not only modifying your food habits but also the clothing and skin care products you use?

Coming to terms with our food values will take time, but simply by being here you’re on the right track. Your decision is a personal one, and will affect your giving later on, as well as the way you interact with the food community. Take a look at the resources below and begin considering where you fit on the food spectrum.

om·ni·vore/ˈämnəˌvôr/

Noun: An animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin.

  • Eat Well Guide // A directory of sustainably-raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.
  • Eat Wild // The clearinghouse for information about pasture-based farming.
  • Mark Bittman // New York Times columnist Mark Bittman reports on the depressing transition in our relationship to food: more fast-food chains, prepared meals and junk food, and an accompanying increase in chronic diseases and environmental degradation.
  • MichaelPollan.com // Michael Pollan writes about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment.
  • Seafood Watch // A consumer's guide for sustainable seafood, The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans.

veg·e·tar·i·an/ˌvejiˈte(ə)rēən/

Noun: A person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, esp. for moral, religious, or health reasons.

  • Mercy for Animals // Mercy For Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rights organization focused on promoting a vegetarian diet.
  • VegOnline // VegOnline strives to provide its readership with the best tips, advice and information on all things vegetarian from nutrition to recipes to lifestyle.
  • The Vegetarian Resource Group // Vegetarian recipes and nutrition information dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, and ethics.
  • Vegetarian Society // The Vegetarian Society is an educational charity working to support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK and around the world.
  • Vegetarian Times // The world's largest collection of vegetarian recipes.
  • WildPlanet // Sustainably caught wild seafood

veg·an/ˈvēgən/

Noun: A person who does not eat or use animal products including meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. In addition to health, one of the most common reasons people choose a vegan diet is because of concerns over animal cruelty.

  • Farm Sanctuary // Farm Sanctuary works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living.
  • Go Vegan USA // The mission of Go Vegan USA is to provide information and resources to our members and local chapters, to be a hub for activist networking, and to encourage others to oppose cruelty and create positive social change by adopting a plant-based diet.
  • KathyFreston.com // Kathy Freston is a New York Times best-selling author of Veganist concentrates on healthy living and conscious eating.
  • Mercy for Animals // Mercy For Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rights organization focused on promoting a vegetarian diet.
  • Vegan.com // Vegan.com publishes useful information for both aspiring and long-term vegans. It's also the home of Erik Marcus' daily blog and his VegTalk podcast.

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