I love this article, absolutely love it:
(My favorite part is when the meat industry people complain about the “lack of protein” in what the school is serving on Mondays, like grilled cheese sandwiches and black beans and rice with salsa…)
Things like this article make me want to giggle and hug myself…because it shows we’re winning. And how scared they are.
(More Meatless Mondays information can be found at meatlessmondays.com–check it out!)
I have a story that NEEDS to be shared…
I recently attended a local PTA Council meeting and went to a special session on “Health & Nutrition”…The presenter began by asking everyone to pass around a plate that held a McDonald’s hamburger and Burger King fries….When I was the (un)lucky recipient of the plate my stomach churned even more than expected. Everything looked dried out and completely unappetizing… as if they had been sitting in a low-heat oven for a few hours.
After the plate made its rounds, the presenter asked for thoughts about the “age” of the food. Guesses ranged from a few hours to a few days.
Guess what? That burger & fries were four and a half years old… yes, I said YEARS!
They had never been frozen, never been refrigerated, never received special “treatment”… they just sit around in their original containers.
The point? There was no mold, no decay, no visible bacteria, no growing “green fuzzies”. Nothing.
Again I say, eeuw.
Just another reason why, if one must eat burgers and fries (and yes, I totally admit I sometimes love a good burger), making them yourself is a much better idea. As I’ve said before, the whole balancing act of the household nutritional gatekeeper is about on the one hand providing healthy and nutritious food for one’s family, and on the other providing it in such a way that they won’t immediately run out to the nearest MickeyDee’s the second they are out from under your thumb.
(A curious thing happened to me, an avowed chocoholic, when I got my first really good Swiss milk chocolate bar–I think it was a Lindt bar with whole hazelnuts, a ginormous thing. I absolutely fell in love with my first experiences of Good Chocolate and even overdid it a bit at the time…but since then, Hershey bars and Milky Way and their entire ilk just hold no appeal for me at all. That is the nutritional gatekeeper principle I’m talking about applying to our families here.)
Burgers are burgers, hot dogs are hot dogs–although lots of the health and environmental impact (remembering that there’s pretty much no way to make beef a “good” environmental choice) can be mitigated by paying attention to where the meat comes from and how much preservative Goo may be added. (We get a brand of hot dogs with no preservatives and only about seven ingredients, from Trader Joe’s, but there are lots of choices.) And if you look around the internet, lots of people have their own advice regarding how to make a “fast food” burger at home. My new mission is to figure out how to make really good oven-baked french “fries.” I’m not there yet, but it’ll happen, wait and see. Ditto the sought-after Chicken Tender–the kids can still detect the homemade ones a mile away.
What I did start doing, once I got really sick of the icky smell of canned non-stick cooking sprays, was to abandon them entirely and either use straight vegetable or seed oil (takes only about half a teaspoon to grease a loaf pan, if you use clean hands to spread it around the surface rather than a towel or something else it will soak into) or my own homemade cooking spray. You can look on the net and find tons of opinions on how it’s best done, but it basically comes down to a couple of tablespoons of oil in 8 ounces of water, in a clean spray bottle. Store in the fridge (because oil and water together scream “resort town!” to bacterial nasties) and shake well before using, and there you are.
It’s a little thing, of course…but every little step, right?
(Okay, now I hear that hazelnut chocolate bar calling me from the kitchen cabinet…)
The beef rant. As promised.
Okay, I love meat. In spirit and desire, I’m a total carnivore. I don’t even like to dress it up with much seasoning or salt–there’s not much I like better than a nice juicy steak. Just lovely and delicious and…wow.
However. I don’t eat them much any more. (In fact, I can’t remember when the last time I had a steak was…unless it was that night Al and I went out to Ruth’s Chris for our schmantzy first anniversary date. That was six years ago. Wow, has it been that long?) I still eat beef occasionally, but usually as a second-billed ingredient and only in things where I can’t substitute something else. And on Superbowl Sunday I relent and actually put beef in the chili. And yesterday’s blog entry did mention how we’ll still do beef lunchmeat from time to time, but I’m working on excising that. Don’t tell Al. (It’s okay, he probably knows.)
Last summer I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. This is not a book for anyone who wants to remain in blissful bigfoot ignorance or who would have deep personal pain about never wanting to pull into a McDonald’s drive-thru again. You’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know, but what will gross you out more is realizing how much of this semi-food you’ve been eating without knowing what was in it and how it got to you. Since then I’ve read a few more books (Pollan’s In Defense of Food is also really good, and sort of less scary.) –but Omnivore is that rare book that has actually hit me hard enough to, overnight, change the way I think of food and eating. Read it. Read both. (Omnivore grossed me out and scared good habits into me, and Defense gave me a way to live those habits with some joy and hope.)
Did you know that cows have to consume 16 times as much grain to produce an equal amount of meat? That’s before even getting to the part about how they are fed food that’s bad for them and makes them sick (corn, which they can’t digest properly…that’s why grass-fed beef is so much more expensive), then pumped full of antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to be fattened enough for market. That’s also without factoring in refrigeration and processing of the cattle into meat. Chicken is better, but only a little–something like 8:1 instead of 16:1. I mean, yes, significantly better, but if it takes 1 acre of rice to meet the caloric needs of, say 8 people, and 5 acres to feed chicken to feed the same 8, and 10 acres for the same caloric result in beef, well, do the math. (These figures adapted from michaelbluejay.com/veg/environment.html –but check around, this is becoming fairly common knowledge.)
Mark Bittman’s Food Matters is another good book on this topic–he explores (and supports fairly well, though with somewhat propagandy if effective hyperbole) the now fairly widely disseminated idea that the single best thing every American could do to reduce their carbon footprint has little to do with consuming less oil and everything to do with consuming less meat. I highly recommend it, although while I’d buy and re-read the Pollan books, I’d probably get the Bittman from the library first. His recipes are good, but their appeal to the greenmama is eclipsed by the skepticism of the speedymama. In fact, it is the book that led to the inception of this blog–I wanted to document at least my own ways of living the values without spending the time his methods seem to require. (He also talks a lot about packaging, like how it takes something like 1600 calories in expended energy to make that plastic bottle the zero calorie water is served in. Sort of appalling.)