Although I no longer eat meat, I have argued that it is better for the environment if we eat locally-raised, grass-fed beef rather than organic vegetables trucked hundreds or even thousands of miles. It turns out I was wrong. This article in The Guardian explains:
Organics are… not even necessarily good for the environment, either. Increasing demand has led to organic meat being raised on vast industrial feed lots, and the scarcity of organic ingredients means they are flown around the world. Research sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs showed that the production of a litre of organic milk requires 80% more land than conventional milk. And that organically reared cows burp and fart twice as much methane as conventionally reared cattle, which would be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that methane is 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.
I am puzzled by my disinclination to become involved in animal rights issues on a larger scale. Frankly, I am overwhelmed with the task of trying to grasp the complexities of how governments should protect human rights without sticking my toe in the philosophical waters of the animal rights movement.
|This is not food|
Pollan doesn’t take himself too seriously, poking fun at not only his audience (“Are you all sure you’re in the right place? This is the lecture on food, after all…”), but at himself and the food industry. To kick off the keynote speech of University of Portland’s Food for Thought conference, Pollan laid out two grocery bags from a store run he had made earlier to Fred Meyer. It was an assortment of mostly processed, packaged foods, boasting a plethora of goodness in the form of antioxidants, low fat and omega-3s. Yet the items were things like fruit pizzas by Eggo and chocolate Cheerios.In a western world of food fads, I think perhaps the wisest advice about healthy eating is something Pollan wrote a few years ago: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
He reminded the packed auditorium that while we Portlanders may be blessed with farmers markets and organic produce that comes from our rich and agriculturally diverse Willamette Valley, most of our population is stocking their shelves with these products.
In 2003, biologist and Zen student Michael Soule told Tricycle: “There is painfully little on restaurant menus that one can eat in good conscience. Shrimp is out; most fish are either toxic or endangered; chicken, veal, beef and pork either suffer physical and emotional pain from the practices of industrial agriculture, are adulterated, cause environmental problems because of long-distance shipping, push small farmers off their land, or externalize the habitat destruction by pushing production overseas. It is more ethical to eat local grass-fed beef, for example, than to buy supermarket organic vegetables and fruit grown in Chile or New Zealand, if one considers only the greenhouse gases released by their transport and refrigeration. Ideally, most of our food should be grown within fifty miles of our home, and should be organic or free-range.”
I will go further and point out that there are no food-related health problems that are not the result of industrial food production.
Soule’s recommendations are necessary for health. As our unsustainable system approaches its collapse, these recommendations may be necessary if we are to eat at all.
This afternoon, I was writing in my room at the Zen Center, when Daishin knocked on my door. “Close your eyes,” she said before she came in. “I want you to smell something…”
I did as she said. She held something under my nose. I inhaled deeply. “It’s cantaloupe,” I said, and opened my eyes.
I was right. She had just harvested it from the garden. I didn’t even know we were growing cantaloupe. She laughed. “I’ve got things growing all over this place,” she said.
She cut it up and brought me three big slices on a plate. It was so good, I forgot all decorum and just devoured it, getting juice all over my face. She watched, smiling.
“You want me to plant more?” she asked.
“Damn right I do. This is fantastic.”
She held out her hand, which held a bunch of seeds. “I’ll plant these,” she said. “The seeds from what you just ate.”
Do you ever look at the butter in your fridge and wonder what you could possibly do with it? Well, wonder no longer - as M.V. Moorhead reports, Trader Joe’s has solved the mystery…
This article by Andy Fisher looks at the complexities.
The real story behind food stamps is that it is neither a nutrition program nor an income support program. It is a massive subsidy for the food retailers, grocery manufacturers, and industrial growers. That is why commodity groups, the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute all line up behind the food stamp program every five years when the Farm Bill is being debated. They know the extra buying power food stamps provides to low income Americans will end up in their pockets.
This would be funny if I were making it up - but I’m not.
The burgers are free - all day, every day - at the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, AZ. The only catch is you have to weigh at least 350 lbs. The fake nurse who weighs you is young, hot, and female. All guests, regardless of weight, are called “patients,” and are “admitted” by the “nurses,” who dress them in bibs that look like hospital gowns. Strategically placed mirrors behind the counter provide patients with heart-stopping views of fake-nurse crotch.
The menu includes unfiltered cigarettes and milkshakes reputed to have the highest fat content in the world, but burgers are the main attraction.
The masters of the subtle schools
Are controversial, polymath.
- T.S. Eliot
Yesterday, the Zen Center’s real Abbot ascended the High Seat to give his disciple a teaching. In the 14 years I’ve studied under him, he’s taught me everything I know…