Book and an ethical dilemma

Sorry I haven’t been around much this week, sickness has struck the house. Just colds but everyone got it, one after the other.

So, I’m in the middle of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and it’s just as good/horrifying as Food, Inc. So far we have followed a bushel of corn through it’s life and various incarnations. We’ve visited a feedlot to see the cows being fed on the corn, a processing plant to see it turned into high fructose corn syrup, starch and other processed substances for food and industry. Then we explored organic industry, where the feedlots and chicken houses are the same but the feed is organic. Yikes! And here I thought I was being healthier and more humane buying organic. I did picture small farms with wide open spaces. I bought into the idyll.

Apparently the only way to ensure humane treatment of your food animals is to either raise them yourself or pay $8.25 a pound for ground beef! (That’s what Polyface Farms charges, if you live near enough to them to get their meat, they don’t ship it anywhere)

After reading and seeing all of this, part of me wants to become a vegetarian. The problem is that old habits die hard. I was at the supermarket the other day and found a great sale on meat. I bought some. I was so proud of finding such a great deal. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I’d just bought a bunch of conventional meat. But, even the grass fed beef that I found at a butcher nearby isn’t necessarily what I thought it was. Just because it’s grass fed doesn’t mean it’s pasture raised. It may be less unhealthy but it probably isn’t any more humane. Poop.

I bought two vegetarian cookbooks (used of course) and am going to be using them more. But, here’s where thrifty and green collide. I will necessarily have to choose thrifty. I can’t afford the other. I’ll still be saving up for the grass fed and organic meat from the butcher but, until I win the lottery and can raise my own, I can’t do better. I’m just going to have to compartmentalize my knowledge for the time being and remember that I’ve been eating conventional meat my whole life. And use those new cookbooks. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

As I said when I watched Food, inc., I know I’m coming late to the game, but I’m glad the resources are there for those of us who didn’t know. I know the book and movie are several years old at this point but I’m positive things haven’t really changed for the better. Organic may have become a bigger part of the market, but that just means that there is more demand for it and the feedlots have grown more numerous. The ethical issues are huge for anyone who wants to do the right thing but still eat meat. In the book, the author is about to start hunting and foraging for his next meal. While this seems to be the best option, it’s just not possible or even desirable for everyone. Agriculture became a thing for a reason. It just needs to be more sustainable.

For now, growing my own veggies and making more vegetarian meals is what I can do. It just so happens that that’s the thrifty option as well. We’re not likely to give up meat totally – my husband is a carnivore to the bone – but we can become less dependent on it.

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11 Responses to Book and an ethical dilemma

  1. At least now you will be aware that organic doesn’t always mean what you had hoped and you can make the choice whether or not you wish to financially support organics. However, if you plan to use edamame (sp.?), tofu, etc., do you research. I think edamame is linked to cancer because of soy.

  2. bmary says:

    I honestly don’t buy organic just because I don’t trust it anymore than anything else. The food industry lies to us constantly. An “organic” label costs a bunch of money to “prove” (my friend who sells eggs from free range happy pet chickens and ducks couldn’t afford it) but a big company can afford it by barely following the requirements. Ugh!!! Keep fighting the good fight!!!! 🙂

    • Of course it’s prohibitively expensive, why wouldn’t it be, right? You wouldn’t want people to actually be able to qualify now, would you? (she said sarcastically) I may keep buying organic just because of the lack of most chemicals, but I’m going to try to grow most of our veggies myself. We’ll see how well I do. Yeah, it sucks trying to do the right thing without having won the lottery yet. 😉 Thanks for the encouragement though, I’ll keep trying to do my best.

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