Sunday, January 10, 2010

Eating Less Meat: the Quest

My hubby and I are always interested in good documentaries and interesting nonfiction. We followed the crowd and started watching/reading Michael Pollan's stuff this past year. Since the hubs and I are also closet wanna-be-famers-and-live-sustainably-in-our-dreams kind of people, Pollan's info really pulls us in. His two books are worth reading: In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a nice complement.

There are several documentaries that have been spun off Pollan's work. The most recent one we watched was simply titled Food and also included interviews and information from Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation.

Environmentalists, organic-food advocates, animal rights activists, and such types are also advocating for more humane treatment/"processing" of our meat supply and therefore arguing for eating less meat. The Food documentary includes some disturbing pictures of these mass meat-production "farms" and slaughter houses; I know that if I ever saw one of those places in person, I would swear of industrially produced meat forever and eat only what I could buy from a local farmer. It's kinda gross, people.

But we also want to lower our grocery budget. What's the solution?

Health experts are always recommending more beans, vegetables, and whole grains, less meat/dairy for American diets. We've made a concerted effort this past year to eat less meat, as a start. We figure that if we eat less than the average (see this interesting chart here) that we have a start at being able to afford better meat. After all, I know no one who could afford 200+ pounds of organic meat per person per year. But, maybe 50-100 pounds per person?

If you are interested in lowering your meat intake, but lack the serious motivation it takes to change those deeply ingrained habits, consider checking out the youth version of What The World Eats. I've written about this book before, but it is quite a sobering look at the abundance we industrialized nations have compared to those in poorer parts of the world. We can rejoice in what the Lord has given us, but recognize that we don't need to be gluttons at the same time.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist kind of gal, so I don't believe the FDA and those associated with the profit of the meat industries are "out to get us," but I do believe people are often motivated by the bottom line and of course want to promote their product and make as much money as possible. I'm also not an alarmist and going to empty my freezer of its industrial-produced poultry and farmed fish, nor am I on the same side politically as many of these aforementioned food activists. However, we will be continuing our attempt this year to eat even less meat and to seek out affordable alternatives to mass-market-meat. Here's a list of resources from Pollan's website. Kingsolver and others also have lots of resources; with a little internet sleuthing and trip or two to a farmer's market, come spring, you can usually locate a source or two of local meat.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? I'll put up some more of family's favorite meatless meal recipes as time permits.

And get ready: greens season is just around the corner! From one formerly-self-confessed-greens-hater-turned-greens-lover, make this the spring to try some of those interesting local greens!

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