I finally finished Michael Pollan’s “Ominvore’s Dilemma”, it was brilliant and inspirational. I said in my last post that I was convincing myself not to eat meat. Well, that’s true to an extent. I have been sufficiently convinced not to eat grain-fed meat from feed lot operations, including anything from fish to chicken to beef. Not only does it go against nature and evolution, which must be respected, but it is just not sustainable. We humans have evolved to eat food that has been nourished by the sun and the soil, and we are currently being fed by food nourished by petrochemicals and and artificially fixed nitrogen. Why have we allowed this to happen? The all mighty bottom line of course. While we are willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on luxury SUVs, video game systems, gargantuan televisions (take your pick), we scoff at spending an extra $1/pound to buy quality meat to nourish our family. And no, I’m not buying into the Whole Foods philosophy of only eating “organic”. I am buying into sustainability. Because while it is surely better to buy “organic” food free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, the farms that produce organic products are nearly as unsustainable as traditional industrial farms. When I refer to sustainability, I mean how much damage it does to the land, the surrounding water resources and the consumers who ingest the food.
One of the most interesting facts highlighted in Pollan’s book is how industrially produced food is actually much worse for humans than meat and produce grown in more natural circumstances. For instance, we all hear that we should eat fish for the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. Those Omega-3 acids come from fish raised on krill and kelp (their natural diet), not corn. Gee, isn’t it surprising that corn weren’t naturally evolved to eat corn? Farm raised salmon raised on corn actually contain less Omega-3 and more Omega-6 (an unhealthy alternative). Same goes for beef. Grass fed beef contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 in a 1:1 ratio – not so bad, right? Well, grain fed beef has Omega-6 fatty acids over Omega-3 in a ratio of 10:1. Amazing. Humans clearly evolved to eat meat higher in Omega-3′s, which is why we have such rampant health problems associated with the consumption of feed-lot beef.
OK, so clearly I could go on and on, but overall I would just recommend that if you are concerned about where your food comes from, read Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma”.
I guess it doesn’t matter how inspired I am by a book if I don’t practice what I preach, right? So I have decided to change my consuming behaviors, especially where meat is concerned. Anyone can go online and find local grass-fed beef suppliers in their area. It may cost more and be much less convenient, but I feel its worth it. We need to get back into the mind-set that meat is a “special occasion” food and not our god-given right for daily consumption. I’ve been a vegetarian before, and I’m not going to go all the way back to that extreme. After all, there is nothing more natural than humans eating meat. However, there’s nothing less natural than how we go about mass producing our meat.