People have strong opinions about eating veal because of the way it is treated. Is baby veg treated in the same way to keep it tender and pale fleshed? If so, it is definitely unethical.
But assuming that baby veg probably isn’t raised in tiny dark crates, is it right to eat it?
The issue for me lies in the potential growth of the vegetable in question. I am fine with eating the “thinnings” from my freshly sprouted beetroot seedlings because otherwise they would be thrown away or hamper each other’s growth. But with a baby sweetcorn I worry about the big sweetcorn it could have grown up into – one big corn\on the cob is nearly a meal but one baby sweetcorn isn’t even a snack so it seems wasteful to eat it when it’s so small.
Perhaps it’s more un-ethical to eat, for example, a baby carrot, where the whole plant is dead after the baby veg is harvested, than a baby aubergine, where the plant carries on to produce more fruit after the harvest.
I suppose I could probably work out a formula to calculate how long the plant has been growing and how much longer it would take to grow the vegetable to an optimum size but I’m not sure I’d be satisfied even then. And a plant that’s lost its little baby courgettes will produce more flowers more quickly than one putting its energy into fattening a marrow. The problems are very complex and the weighting somewhat beyond me. Perhaps if I had studied the kind of logic and philosophy that means you can reduce things to formulae I would have developed some better weapons in my arsenal, but as it is I am struggling to reduce all the variables into one statement.
I was hoping that writing this would have helped me clarify my thoughts, but I can’t say that it has. I’m not going to stop eating baby veg., but neither am I going to stop feeling slightly uneasy about the ethics of doing so.