Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fillet Misty for me...

To the people freaking out about the horse meat "scandal:" Your arbitrary distinction between animals that are "ok to eat" and animals that are "gross/wrong to eat" is very perplexing to me. But then again, so is your decision to purchase and consume two dozen Swedish meatballs for $1.00 during a shopping break at a discount furniture store.

Ok. I personally think it's wrong to eat all animals, not just horses. But this horse meat fiasco shows how arbitrary humans are about the animals and ultimately, the food they consume. Considering how inundated we are with sensational news stories, it's usually best to try to quell the alarmist side of our brain. Otherwise we'd spend all of our time hiding in our make-shift bunkers, drinking distilled water from BPA-free bottles and wondering when Obama will order a drone strike on our property so he can steal our guns from our cold, dead hands. 
But in light of this horse meat story, I don't think it's an alarmist reaction to ask yourself, "Hmmm... what the fuck are we actually eating nowadays?"   

This is true for everybody, but especially true for meat eaters. Truth be told, the process of turning an animal into a meal is more horrifying and barbaric than anything in the Saw movie franchise. It is therefore not surprising that people would rather not think about what animals being "raised for meat" entails, or to really question the arbitrary distinction we make between companion animals and food animals. It's far too messy to question that arbitrary line. I can understand that. But there are consequences to our willful ignorance. 

The meat industry does not worry much about consumers holding them accountable because they know the people have basically settled on a "this ground chuck is delicious, just don't tell me how it's made" approach. I think it's crucial to be more cognizant of where all of our food comes from and to hold the food industry to higher standards. But this is especially true for meat since so much cruelty, suffering and pain goes into the making of it. Which makes right now a perfect opportunity for all of us to do some reevaluation of our food choices.

People want to know that the food they're eating is safe and contains what the label says it contains. But by and large, we just make assumptions and allow slick marketing and packaging to placate our food concerns. I know people who have taken months to research the perfect iPhone case. I know very few people who have taken even an hour to research the food they're eating. And I fully include myself in this latter category. (Though not the former. I don't care that much about technology accessories.)

I know that I can't convince you to stop eating meat, though that would be pretty awesome if you did. But I think you owe it to yourself, your family and the animals that end up on your plate to do even some cursory research into what you're putting into your body, where it comes from and what your grocery money is supporting. Read "The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food" by Michael Moss which just appeared in the New York Times MagazineI also suggest checking out the blog 100 Days of Real Food and taking the 10 Day real Food Pledge. I will be.

Or, you can get all reactionary and scream "nanny state!" and make the case that you can eat yourself to death if you want to and nobody's gonna tell you otherwise. And that's fine. You're on an MSG bender and it's making you cranky. We get it. But you're not "sticking it to the man" by allowing the food industry call all the shots about your diet. You're not "standing up to government tyranny." You're just needlessly ingesting garbage and compromising your own health for no reason. Why do that? Don't you deserve better?

This is all coming from somebody who, if left to her own devices, would subsist on Red Bull, Little Debbie and frozen pizza. So believe me, reevaluating and changing my food choices is going to be a personal challenge. But I'm in the fortunate position to have the resources to take on that challenge. And I'm not gonna let some little girl in a checkered dress send me to an early grave, even if her snacks are fucking delicious.  Because there are way greater joys in life than Swiss rolls and I'm gonna aim for 'em. So should you.

Less horse. More health. Let's do this. 

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