Where’s the Beef From?

Tonight for dinner, we had:

Soup- black beans, celery, onions, cauliflower stalks, carrots, a bay leaf, some seasonings; topped it with plain, organic yogurt, cheese, and cilantro. On the side: half an acorn squash baked with butter.

Missing: meat.

The weird thing is that I didn’t miss the meat until my daughter said, “Hey…what happened to the meat?” I said, “There is none.” She said, “Oh, okay. Cool.”

I didn’t plan on having a vegetarian meal, it just worked out that way. What I was thinking about was healthfulness and filling some bellies quickly. I wanted a meal with fiber and flavor and nutrients, so beans became the natural base. The cauliflower and onions were organic, but my grocer didn’t offer the other ingredients in the microscopic “organic and local” section. The acorn squash was so sweet, it became dessert. I’m really glad I resisted the habit to sprinkle sugar on it.

I find that more and more, meat isn’t something I serve every day. I don’t think we’ll become a vegetarian family, though. Sometimes I crave red meat like squirrels crave nuts. I think, without realizing it, we’ve turned into “flexitarians”: people who eat some meat, but mostly subsist on a plant-based diet. What I would very much like to find is a local farmer who sells grass fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics. I know they exist, I’m just a little over whelmed with the process of finding one within driving distance using the internet. I’ve begun to ask The Locals, so hopefully my search will be short. There used to be a little farmstead up the road that sold range/organic chickens and eggs, but they don’t anymore. They have a sign at the end of their driveway that says, “Screwed by the USDA. Go Away.”

Have you seen “Forks Over Knives”, “King Corn”, “Food Matters”, or “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”? Netflix has been on our screen quite a bit lately… Anyway, these shows, along with books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Medium Raw” have really struck a nerve with me. I am, by nature, a conservative and  a conservationist. I recycle all that I can, buy organic and locally when I can, and think the government is too big for its britches. Hearing about the sinful underbelly of the USDA, FDA, and the like was disappointing, though. I thought those agencies were supposed to protect us…I guess they do, after a fashion, but at what seems to be the expense of small farmers and growers, as well as the general health of Americans. I don’t know that those programs have their facts straight 100%, so I’ll do some digging around there; however, they do present an important point: I have been guilty of not knowing where my food comes from.

I don’t like the thought of my family putting a family farm out of business just because I’m too lazy to find their back country road.

So, here’s another “resolution” for my list. My goal is to buy, as much as possible, local foods that are in season, as well as grass-fed and chemical-free beef. I will investigate the processors, the transportation practices, and business ethics involved in my food. Even if these shows lied through their very clean teeth, at least I will have the knowledge I should have had all along.

I enjoy cooking. I like the process, the calming mindset of cooking a good meal for my family. Since I care about my family, I should care more about the food I’m preparing for them. I should know what the chickens ate. I should know how that beef was slaughtered and by whom. I should know whether or not these companies treat their employees well, what they do for the environment. I should know whether or not I’m feeding my daughter something that will make her menstruation begin too early, make my son’s hypothalamus wig out. If I care enough to cook for them, I should care enough to know what I’m cooking for them.

Note: I’m perfectly aware that purchasing Good Food is a luxury in this country. Bad Food is cheaper and much easier to come by. Its also easier to find someone with food-related health problems than without, so…you know, there’s that…

So this is me: a carnivore who won’t buy another piece of meat until I know from whence it came. Thankfully, there’s a little butcher up the road, so I’ll pop up there on Monday. 😉 I’m also a carnivore of little patience…

Some Interesting Links:

1) Kevin’s Law
2) Center for Foodborne Illnesses
3) Forks Over Knives
4) Food, Inc.

As someone who is passionate about the political process in this country, the quote that stuck with me the most was from the documentary, “Food, Inc.”

“You have the opportunity to vote with every bite you take.” …so I’m going to vote for the Little Guy, the guy who eschews chemicals and Big Agri-Business. I’m gonna vote for the guy who treats his animals with care, who employs his family and legal American workers and pays his taxes. I’m gonna vote for the guy who will sell me food that won’t kill my family.

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