Archive for meat wall

Credit Card Debt? Global Warming? Just Eat More Chicken

Posted in MEAT POLITICS with tags on March 11, 2009 by chomposaurus

An interesting chart:

meats_2

When the recession hits, people replace more expensive meat with chicken. No word on weather roadkill consumption has increased. But the article at good.is discusses the climate consequences:

Now check out these carbon conversions for different kinds of meat:
1kg beef = 34.6 kg CO2
1kg lamb = 17.4 kg CO2
1kg pork = 6.35 kg CO2
1kg chicken = 4.57 kg CO2

Not too much to add here. But I will say that the benefits of eating less meat (and more efficient meat, to the extent it can be done without cruelty to the animals) are true during any point in the economic cycle. You save money and pounds by sticking with a diet that favors a few really good pieces of beef over Arby’s for lunch every other day.

I was looking for some sort of pun on eating the actual bear of “Bear Market” fame, but they all seemed too silly to bear.

Thoreau and Flexitarians

Posted in MEAT POLITICS with tags , on February 9, 2009 by chomposaurus

Is eating meat more trouble than it’s worth? Henry Thoreau thought so, one of the many reasons he became a Vegetarian. Stefany Anne Golberg covers his conversion in an article for the Smart Set (h/t: The Daily Dish)

“The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness,” [Thoreau] wrote in Walden, “and besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth.” You can stand around in the forest, waiting to spear, skin, and roast a bunny for your next meal, but…why?

These days, since we see so little of the effort that goes into producing meat, choosing to pay for others to exert that effort instead, it’s easy to lose track of this. But you are spending more of your resources of money and health each time you choose meat over equally nutritious fruits, vegetables and grain. That’s why I and others like me continue to argue for smarter meat eating, which means eating less meat, but that meat is of a higher quality. Kind of like the way a long-term relationship is more rewarding than random hookups to all but the most lustful of individuals. Give up quantity for quality (of meat and of life).

Mark Bittman’s new book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes, contains a bold argument for Flexitarianism. In this way of life, a majority of one’s meals are vegetarian. Bittman claims that the best way to achieve this is to eat no meat before dinner. Not a bad plan, if you can kick the habit of that ham sandwich at lunch.

Sunday Protein: Trillions of Farm Animals

Posted in MEAT POLITICS with tags on December 6, 2008 by chomposaurus

pigs
Imagine every soon-to-be-eaten cow, pig, goat and chicken currently alive waiting for you when you open the door in the morning. You would see trillions of animals. As someone who can barely imagine what a million of something looks like, I don’t think I can conceive of a trillion beasts. But it’s important to think about such numbers when considering why it’s important to eat “green” meat, and less of it.

I got this idea from the NYTimes article this week talking about the impact of rising meat consumption on the fight against global warming. These ideas have been discussed elsewhere, but this article uses more numbers to put a better perspective on it.

“I’m not sure that the system we have for livestock can be sustainable,” said Dr. Pachauri of the United Nations. A sober scientist, he suggests that “the most attractive” near-term solution is for everyone simply to “reduce meat consumption,” a change he says would have more effect than switching to a hybrid car.

Manure, flatus, refrigeration, transportation and feeding – all combine to make your daily meat less eco-friendly than the Ford Expidition you load up with ‘brauts for tailgating. So, in this case, less is more: eat less meat now to make sure the industry is sustainable and we won’t be eating too much tofurky on Thanksgiving or quorn at Christmas.

[Image by Matt Gardy]

You Eat What The Cow Eats

Posted in Fast Food, MEAT POLITICS with tags , on November 17, 2008 by chomposaurus

corn on the cow[/caption]
And in this case, the cow has been eating mostly corn…

If you thought you were eating mostly grass-fed beef when you bit into a Big Mac, think again: The bulk of a fast-food hamburger from McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s is made from cows that eat primarily corn, or so says a new study of the chemical composition of more than 480 fast-food burgers from across the nation.

Eating a diet of meat from corn-fed animals hasn’t been linked to any specific health effects in humans. But it has resulted in widespread environmental degradation, including drained water supplies, degraded soils, and reliance on fossil fuels for fertilizer, pesticides and farm machinery fuel…

Feeding so much corn to cows is bad for the environment, bad for the cows, and potentially bad for you. So, this is a very straightforward case of industrial farming leading to potential health hazards, animal mistreatment, and low-quality meat. It’s good to know that when you buy “grass-fed” beef, you’re getting something more than peace of mind.

The solution should be to eat less meat, though. Switching cows over to grass does not solve the larger problems of unbalanced food supplies and overconsumption.

Meat Should Be Expensive

Posted in MEAT POLITICS, World of Meat with tags on October 29, 2008 by chomposaurus

Ezra Klein takes a long look at the extraordinarily dumb and hopefully collapsing system of meat production in the United States.

Overconsumption of meat imposes huge costs on both the environment and on public health. And that’s to say nothing of the indefensible cruelty that characterizes CAFO operations. Yet we spend billions to subsidize ever cheaper meat. And billions more to treat the ill health that results from our meat-heavy diets. And we will pay billions, even trillions, more, to handle the environmental damage that eventually results from these policies. It’s an incredibly odd state of affairs, like paying someone to touch up your house with lead paint.

I recently paid $6.99 for a frozen package of five chicken fingers from Whole Foods (review coming). Does this make me particularly happy? No. Because I’m used to having the equivalent of five chicken fingers of meat for probably half of my meals in a week, and that expectation is both unrealistic and increasingly harmful. Remember that in a market economy, you can pay for something with more than money: time, political capital, dead bodies, etc. We’ve been buying our meat on environmental and societal credit, and the interest charges are about to go way up.

(H/T: Andrew Sullivan)

Sunday Protein: High Meat Prices Here to Stay?

Posted in MEAT POLITICS with tags , on October 5, 2008 by chomposaurus


Chef David Chang has a good take on what we’ll eat in the 21st century.

But guess what? The machinery that’s pumped so much meat into our lives over the last half century was never built to last, and now it’s breaking down big-time. Feed is more expensive. Gasoline is more expensive. Milk, rice, butter, corn–it’s all going through the roof. And for the foreseeable future, it’s not coming back down.

Renewable Energy is BS!

Posted in MEAT POLITICS with tags , , on September 24, 2008 by chomposaurus


Literally. The NYTimes writes about a dairy farm in Vermont that uses bacteria to break down cow manure into methane and other gases, which are then burned in an electricity-generating engine. And I say: more power to them. Haha. Unless, of course, we start getting too many subsidies and people are opening cow farms just to produce “green” energy. Remember, all those farting cows still produce a lot of greenhouse gas.

Black Helicopters above the Meat Wall

Posted in MEAT POLITICS, World of Meat with tags , , on September 8, 2008 by chomposaurus

Running above the fold on the Drudge Report last night was a story about a new report from Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying people should endeavor to have at least one meat-free day per week.

As an avid meat fan, I agree 100%. People should eat less meat. Not even because of global warming, but for themselves and their pocketbooks.

Here’s what I think is the biggest problem: “Vegetarianism” is regarded as a lifestyle and (worse) a political choice, instead of just a cuisine. Few people say “we’re going out for vegetarian tonight” the way they might say “we’re going out for thai.” But there’s no reason not to. Eating delicious vegetarian food is almost as simple as calling Domino’s and ordering a plain pizza.

One important note: although it would be helpful in some regards, being a vegetarian who eats a ton of cheese and eggs does not do much to reduce the global warming impact, since, as the article states, there’s wave of flatulence behind the meat wall.

Sunday Protein: Jamaican Beef Shortage

Posted in MEAT POLITICS with tags , , on September 7, 2008 by chomposaurus

A short article from the Jamaica Gleaner (awesome name for a newspaper) describing why there’s a beef shortage in the Caribbean and how it affects local businesses.

Let’s hope it doesn’t impede the supply of Jamaican beef patties.

A Farm Boy Empathizes

Posted in BBQ, Fowl, MEAT POLITICS, Pork, STUFF ABOUT MEAT with tags , , , , on August 1, 2008 by chomposaurus

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who usually manages to impress me only with the stubborn denial of his neoconservatism, wrote a great piece this week about California’s Prop 2, which, if approved, would keep factory farms from raising hogs, chickens or veal in small cages. Anyone concerned with eating healthier, more humane meat should support this initiative. Similar ballot measures have passed in Florida, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado.

But the best part of the column comes when Kristof describes his own experience slaughtering geese on his family farm.

Then there were the geese, the most admirable creatures I’ve ever met… Once a month or so, we would slaughter the geese. When I was 10 years old, my job was to lock the geese in the barn and then rush and grab one. Then I would take it out and hold it by its wings on the chopping block while my Dad or someone else swung the ax.

The 150 geese knew that something dreadful was happening and would cower in a far corner of the barn, and run away in terror as I approached…

Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.

I tried to pet a goose when I was a small child, and it responded by pursuing me with ferocity. At the time I thought all geese were crazy; now I understand that there was probably something more going on. People are already weirded out by eating cute animals (cats and rabbits being unpopular for bbq’s); will they soon be just as repulsed by eating smart ones? Geese and pigs, as Kristof writes, “adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.”

Is there a slippery slope between this and vegetarianism, or at least (flavor-of-the-month vocab word) pescatarianism? It’s difficult to imagine that. I like to think that it’s a path where our awareness of animal rights leads us to eat a healthier and more sustainable amount of meat. Hopefully, states like Florida and California will take the lead in making sure that meat is humanely raised.