There is this idea in average society world that:
* if the government says it’s inspected and safe, it’s safe.
*the further meat is from the farm, the safer it is.
*the cost of local chicken thighs, pork steak, or beef roast isn’t worth what you get. We need cheap meat.
I read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle this summer and was grossed out reading about the meat packing plants in turn of the century Chicago. I figure things are probably better now–after all, consumers aren’t dropping dead of food poisoning like they did then, the unions moderate working conditions (not that a factory is great on a good day, to my thinking), and if people don’t show up after work because they disappeared in a lard rendering vat during the day someone gets excited and there is a big deal about it.
However, that doesn’t make the above beliefs true. The government is not out to keep you any safer than they have to, after all, trace amounts of arsenic in your chicken is really safe, pink slime chicken nuggets won’t hurt you, rBGH is safe for your kids, the cows, and the environment, and the pesticides that make migrant workers sick in the veggie fields are safe for Wal-Mart consumers. After all, the antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and force-fed corn-crossed-with-frogs(?) is required to feed Americans in the manner in which they are accustomed at “reasonable” prices–everyone deserves boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.99/lb and McDonald’s burgers for $1.00/hamburger.
Huffington Post did an article recently that shares some realities about commercial beef. Food for thought.
How do you step out of the matrix? Here are some ideas:
*Learn about what it takes to produce any meat for under $3.00/lb. on the grocery store shelf. Compare what you save at the checkout to what you spend in time and money (including your insurance’s payments) at the doctor’s office and related medical places.
*Eat less meat, but buy quality. I don’t mean the best grade beef or “natural” chicken from Meijers. I’m talking about grass-fed, possibly fed GMO-free feed, locally processed beef, pork, chicken. Experiment with the ultra healthy but less common chevon (goat), sheep, or even llama (we’ve tried it–excellent!). The Matrix supports pharma companies that profit when they feed you and then when they “cure” you from how they made you sick!
*Learn to appreciate as much of the animal’s gift of life as possible. Learn how to cut up a whole chicken and use more than just the boneless skinless breast. Read up on recipes for beef ribs. Learn to make bone broth/stock.
*Grow what you can, buy the rest from the guy or gal that grew it. Visit the farm so you can see how they do it–most growers are happy to show off because we take great pride in what we do and put a lot of effort into excellence. Anyone can farm.
*Know that if I’m processing chickens and you’ve ordered 5 birds for your freezer, I have a face and name in my mind. I’m not satisfying a government appointed overlord with my sanitation and food safety practices. I’m serving YOU. That’s food safety.
The Food Matrix is so engrained in our culture, it’s hard to step out completely. Mark will admit to liking McDonald’s fries on occassion. When we’re on the run, Subway can make us lunch sometimes. It’s a rare treat to order pizza when we work until 7:00 in the shop. We do what we can and try to incorporate more good food practices as we go. That’s OK. But start stepping out. Own your food and health by making the choices that make you feel healthy and strong. Don’t take the Industry’s and Government’s word for it.
I say it again…Know your farmer.