For the next installment in DALS’s How I Buy Meat series, we hear from Alexandra Zissu, author of The Conscious Kitchen, and the “Ask an Organic Mom” columnist at TheDailyGreen.com. The goal of the HIBM series is to share exact meat-buying strategies and philosophies from food industry insiders, environmentalists, public health officials, etc. who also happen to be parents. Last time we heard from food-safety expert Doug Powell from KSU’s Dept. of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology. Today, Zissu weighs in with her own thoughtful strategy.
Though I devote an entire chapter to meat in The Conscious Kitchen and am currently writing a book with Josh and Jessica Applestone of Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats in Kingston, New York, I don’t eat much meat. Never have. Not compared to the average American, anyway. I eat more since my daughter was born because I think it’s important for her growing body. But left to my own devices, I might even eat less. And at this point, after this many years of research, if it isn’t pastured and local, I’m eating vegetarian that night. I don’t eat much because I don’t particularly crave it on a regular basis.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I devour — usually involving pork (chops, bacon, stew meat — I love it all), or a perfect roast chicken. I avoided beef for years though the flavor of what Fleisher’s sources and sells has returned me to the realm of great steak and juicy burgers. But as much as I enjoy these, I don’t feel the need for them daily. Which, as it turns out, is a great thing. Livestock aren’t wild animals. They’re not part of the natural carbon cycle. We raise them to eat them. And their environmental impact, much like that of our ever-growing population, is monumental. Eating less means less impact – especially if we do it collectively. It adds up. Animals raised free-roaming on pasture are less destructive than their factory-farmed counterparts. Though of course they still have quite the footprint. They’re also not treated (for the most part) inhumanely, kept in cages, hopped up on drugs (scary hormones and antibiotics), and fed the most horrible genetically modified crap imaginable. It is amazing to me that the general public knows so little about what they eat, and yet willingly dines on — and feeds their children — meat from truly unhealthy animals containing residues of these drugs and this feed. We are what we eat. We are also what the thing we ate…ate, too. Right? If I served you a plate of chicken shit, would you puree it and spoon-feed it to your baby? No. But this is considered acceptable cattle feed, according to our government. And we offer those cattle to our families. (more…)