Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Inspired By A Friend: Meat Of Known Origin, Revisited

I've blogged lots about Meat Of Known Origin. For some time I was strict only eating Meat Of Known Origin. Then I found myself working in an office where meals were delivered every day. They weren't always MOKO, and they were often hard to resist. And I didn't resist.

Recently, I've watched my friend Mike become aware of the problems with the modern food system. His horror and astonishment at how we make our food reminded me of my reaction when I started paying attention—and reminded me that nothing has changed. All the reasons I had for avoiding factory meat are still valid.

Mike recently made the following declaration on my Facebook page:

I'm turning selective carnivore here on out; I will strive to know where my meat came from and how old it was when it was slaughtered (no more growth hormones thank you very much) and what it was fed while it was alive and hopefully happy running around in a large field with just the right number of friends. I may starve…

Pretty inspiring.

Well, that was all I needed. I'm back on the wagon. "What he said."

To be specific: chicken, pork, and beef. Chicken and pork must be from a known small farm with known practices. Co-ops (like Niman Ranch) will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Beef should be from a known farm, but if it's not it must be grass-fed (ideally 100%). If I'm at someone's house, I may or may not eat to be polite. (Jonathan Saffran Foer discusses this specific conundrum quite thoughtfully in Eating Animals.)

The problems with other land animals are much less dire than the problems with chickens, pigs, and cows.

The problems with seafood are a whole other story. If we can avoid farmed ocean fish and eat low on the ocean food chain most of the time, that's a good start. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has some good reference material on their website, and Taras Grescoe wrote a great book on the subject called Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.

Does anyone have stories about their reactions when they learned about modern meat production?