Last night my husband and I went to our favorite Italian restaurant in the area. The chef makes pasta from scratch every day and cooks with fresh and local ingredients.
(Based on this description, do I need to tell you that it’s not a cheap place?)
When our server announced one of the chef’s specials of the evening, “Spaghetti Rustica” (with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese), I just could not resist.
“Does it come in a half portion?” I asked hopefully.
“No, not the specials,” was the regretful response.
“How much is it?” I continued.
“Yikes!” was my initial thought. I feel guilty when I spend more than $15 on dinner. I quickly deliberated with myself and decided that it was still cheaper than most of the non-pasta entrées on the menu and I could go without a dinner salad. “Sounds good!”
The food was delightful and perfectly satisfying. In fact, I joined the clean plate club – usually an impossibility for me when dining out. I can literally feel the difference between this “cooked-from-scratch” food and the “pre-made and re-heated” food served in most middle of the road restaurants like Olive Garden® Italian Restaurant and The Cheesecake Factory. It doesn’t make me feel heavy and greasy like most meals at aforementioned chain restaurants. Rather, it makes me feel happy and content.
After a week of sugar detox, I also decided to indulge in my favorite dessert, Tiramisu. (See above picture… We’re still trying to figure out if the fork “decoration” was on purpose.) Did I need it? Absolutely not. Did it bring me pleasure? Ehm, yes!
So the question on the table is this: Is it unethical to eat a meal like this when people are starving around the world? The fact that I’m even asking the question makes me think that it is. I mean, the amount of money we paid for that meal could feed a child in a developing country for a year (according to WFP).
At the same time, I would rather spend more to support a local business using organic and seasonal food than spend less on a nation-wide chain serving up pre-processed, conventionally grown food. Going out to eat is one of our favorite activities. It’s relaxing and a great way to foster conversation (no iPods or phones allowed at the table). It brings us joy.
So how do you balance the desire to enjoy yourself and eat food that is both good and good for you (and the planet) with the dilemma of spending more than necessary for basic sustenance?
I haven’t figured it out! So if you have any insight on the matter or want to share your own struggles with similar dilemmas, post a comment. I’d love to hear from you.