Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meet Meat

During a brief intermission in my carnivorus eating, I was in the right mindset to watch Food, Inc. It was a pretty difficult thing to watch and at times, I did cover my eyes (hey, I made it through Fast Food Nation with eyes wide open the entire time). I knew about meat processing plants and how animals were treated but this seemed to go above and beyond everything I had watched thus far. These were major meat players (like Tyson) that are practicing cruel and inhumane tactics in "growing" animals for our consumption.

They also had farmers featured that took great care with their animals and only produced a small amount of meat each month, most of which was sold at farmer's markets. A lot of local farmers in Corvallis would come to the markets and would take the time to explain where the meat came from, the processing, and how to truly savor the taste of the meat. It was like you were paying your respects to the animals as you ate.

Enter in another informational aspect, Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet." I watched an Oprah episode about the various food movements in this country that are happening right now. She had Alicia on as well as Michael Pollan, the author of "Food Rules" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma." I immediately put them on hold at my local library and just yesterday I grabbed "The Kind Diet" and "Food Rules." I skimmed the second one but dove head first into Alicia's book. It was well presented, easy to understand, and gave the reader a great background on why you should look at what you eat and how asinine some of the reasons we eat other animals are. She discusses things that have not been presented before like how we are not physically made to consume and digest meat or how weird it is we drink milk from another animal. There are also topics that have been a hot bed of discussion including how cows affect the ozone layer or how chemicals have trained our bodies to perform opposite of how we were made to. Just really interesting things to think about when we prepare meals and grocery shop.

There are two tactics that she has about eating cleanly, humanely, and environmentally friendly. There is the vegetarian diet and the vegan diet. She also discusses raw and macrobiotic but neither would I ever be able to do-vegan is still a far stretch for me. One of the things I really enjoyed were comparing myths about nutrition to the realities. Calcium is a huge concern for me because I worry about osteoporosis and rarely ever drink milk. I had no idea that sesame seeds and sea vegetables have far more calcium than milk ever could!

The more research I do, however, the more I feel like grocery shopping and food is becoming too critical. In the 1940's, they ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, white flour biscuits with real butter, and didn't seem to have huge health concerns like we have today. Today we deal with 20-piece chicken nugget buckets (buckets, do we need to eat from buckets?) and 40oz sodas full of enough sugar and calories for a month. We are also spending so much more time inside, on the computer, in our cars and sitting at our desks now that our society will soon end up just like "Wall-E" invisioned we would. Scary? Hell yes.

MY point is that the time has passed that we could trust our food suppliers and labels. We can no longer even trust our vegetables now that GMOs exist. I hate that I now look at my chicken and think of "Food, Inc." or that I now need to worry about if my fruit and vegetables have a 4-digit code or a 5-digit code. I think because of these things and the unhealthy eating habits that American seems to enjoy, the push for vegan and vegetarian diets have become even greater and exposes are coming out all the time to better inform the public.

So, as I continue reading "The Kind Diet" and "Food Rules" I am going to continue to learn more about my food. This may or may not impact my food habits but for right now, I am definitely considering cutting meat out completely. Dairy may be harder because I really like cheese--good, solid, no substitutes--cheese. Eggs, another item discussed in the book, will also be up for consideration. Lucky for me that I already buy and am addicted to various substitute meat products not only for moral reasons but because they are easier to make!


  1. I feel your pain. The problem with learning about food is that grocery shopping becomes a major pain. Not eating meat makes it a little simpler though.

  2. Very true, Amy. It is so much nicer to just grab my favorite meatless items and hit up the fresh veggie areas. I forgot that in Michael Pollan's book, he talks about real food and eating stuff that your ancestors would recognize rather than all the processed and engineered foods. If you see things that way, maybe it all becomes easier.