Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's Wrong with the Meat...Sir?

"I'll tell you one thing I'll never eat...hot dogs." Jonathan Safran Foer, writer extraordinaire, pulled off a coherent interview on the Colbert Report and conveyed his message: it's the meat. While our agriculture system has more than a few screws loose, what with pesticide-laden, nitrogen-slurried, monocropping growing culture that produces the majority of US crops, our obsession with meat is what is turning on the CO2 pump. Not only that - we don't treat those livestock so nicely, either. As he tries to convey in his interview, Safran Foer is not necessarily opposed to meat consumption (although he chooses not to take part, himself), but advocates for a modest and very conscious consumption of animal products. Be careful of labels and know where your meat comes from.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jonathan Safran Foer
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy
Now, I could see that philosophy applied to just about any comestible product these days. Where animal products differ substantially, is both in the fact that these are cognizant beings and that it takes a hell of a lot of energy to produce one Calorie of an animal product. First, to address the animal rights issue, you have to consider that your average joe cow lives in a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation - or - essentially a factory farm). Not only are these massive and crowded, but they basically necessitate feeding our ruminant friend a diet of corn, which wreaks havoc on the mooers digestive system. Corn also requires considerable energy to grow, produces sick and fatty cows without beneficial omega fatty acids, and is already found in almost everything else we consume (watch King Corn). Yuck. Look for grass-finished beef and limit your consumption! Remember, ruminant livestock contributes about 20% of the US methane (a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2) emissions. Furthermore, all the concentrated waste from these animals has to go somewhere, and often it ends up polluting waterways and the like instead of being integrated into a closed loop system where cows fertilize the grazeland and the crops on the farm!

Don't get too complacent, because you don't eat beef. Those chicken's eggs your packing down ain't so good for the environment or the chicken either. Free range gets you a chicken that at some point had access to a yard. Doesn't rule out large, cramped indoor holding space or the high probability that the door isn't open or the chickens can't get to it. Cage-free similarly holds very little clout. Certified humane or Animal Welfare Approved are your best bets if you can't get your hands on a dozen farmer's market eggs or some from your neighbor!

I think my rant has overstayed its welcome. So, take a look at the video, read "The Ethics of What we Eat" by Peter Singer, and start thinking hard about what you put in your mouth.

1 comment:

MondayCampaigns said...

The farming industry certainly has its share of problems and knowing where your meat comes from is vital. Another modest step is to go vegetarian one day a week. You'll cut your consumption by 15% and may even take a step toward full vegetarianism. I volunteer for Meatless Monday, which has all sorts of tips and recipes.