I read an article on another blog, which forwarded me to the Original New York Times article on the high cost of meat production and consumption worldwide, but primarily in (yes) the United States.
I hadn’t considered writing such a lengthy blog tonight, but a response on the other blog kind of fueled my fire, so here I am, at your expense.
Now, as most of you know (or at least the three of you that read my blog), I am not a vegetarian. I fully condone meat eating in its natural state or at the furthest removal, a local-to-you accountable farm. Sure, you’ll pay a little more for it, but really, you’re paying a lot less in the long run.
All corporate meat (this includes organic, halal, kosher and otherwise) that is grown (not raised, mind you) in feedlots and slaughterhouses are contributers to a host of problems that, frankly, we just don’t need.
Firstly, these animals are treated cruelly. Don’t believe me? CNN published an article on the undercover video of a dairy farm in (guess where?) California.
But this article just talks about cows, and cows are treated the least cruel in the holy triad of to-yer-plate cruelty between their brethren: the chickens and pigs. In other words: cows got it made by comparison. Cows, at least, get to be in fields for a short period of their ill-begotten lives.
But I’m not here to tell you all the awful things that happen to cows, chickens and pigs in corporate feedlots. You already know! I don’t need to preach to you, even though I might anyway.
What I’m here to do is to pose the question: What should we do with all this shit??
So that corporate burger joints can serve up a cheap burger for after church on Sunday, Americans endure approximately 810 million tons of toxic, antibiotic-laden shit. That’s not even considering our own shit. That’s just the first round of shit. Consider how much you excrete every day. Multiply that by everyone in your home. Then by the population of your neighborhood. City. State. Region. Country. World.
Where does all the feedlot shit go?
Right into our streams, of course! And I suppose that might not be all that big of a deal if, the feedlot animals weren’t shot up with antibiotics and other drugs to keep them alive (note, not necessarily in good health) until slaughter.
But is all this really necessary?
“Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (The recommended level is itself considered by many dietary experts to be higher than it needs to be.) It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources.” (NYT Article ref at top)
So, okay. You don’t care about the effects of meat on your body. That’s fine by me, cuz it’s your body and you can do what you wish with it. I hold no judgments on you.
However, you should know exactly what happens when you choose to support an economy that is based on greed, gluttony and overproduction. What happens, exactly, is that we become a product of the things we endorse.
You want a cheap, fatty piece of meat? Guess what you are! [I am striking this sentence in retrospect of my sometimes getting overly preachy on accident. I don’t mean to do it, so I apologize for that. The point I was feebly trying to make is that we are *all* of what we eat whether that’s wholesome meat or cheap meat or fresh vegetables or rotten vegetables or advertising or sickness or none of it or all of it.]
Food isn’t the only thing we consume. We consume the sickness of the things we eat. We consume the advertising that benefits from our unawareness. We consume the judgments of our peers and water-cooler talk. We move away from nature and a sense of brute understanding to some world that is supposedly “refined” and “intelligent.” Except it’s totally not.
And yes, in a hunter/gatherer situation, the effects of meat eating would be much different. Firstly, hunters didn’t catch meat at $4.99 /lb at the market. They had to run! They had to hunt! Secondly, the animal itself was healthy and a viable part of the food chain since many cultures feel it is taboo to eat a sick animal because they feel the sickness would spread itself through the community. Thirdly, the amount of meat consumed would have been a much, much smaller part of the diet than the current American diet. It’s not a reasonable argument for today’s society.
But you’re doing what you can, right? You watched Al Gore’s movie, and you’re all about it! You unplug unnecessary gadgets; you walk when possible; you recycle, reuse and reduce; you don’t excessively travel to exotic places; you keep the heat down to 60 and wear a sweater. That’s great! You’re totally on the right track!
Take a look at the carbon footprint of corporate meat farming.
If you can grow your own vegetables, that’s even better because you reduce your carbon footprint even more! Just be sure to get the ground tested first, or use potted organic soil.
Now, if you just can’t help it and you really have a taste for meat and there’s not a local independent farm around, then go the next best steps: first support the local farmer, then the farmer’s market, then the local market, then local chain, then national chain in that order.
I’m not suggesting you drop your car, become a vegetarian and eat nothing but rice for the rest of your no-meat-for-me days – no, of course not. I think that’s unreasonable also. I just want you to know what’s up. That’s it. Nothing more.
Nothing has to change, except
your social awareness.