Friday, July 22, 2011

Some light activism for this Friday afternoon

I don't intend this blog to become a thing about food activism. For the most part, I don't really care what other people eat (though I definitely judge what other people feed their kids... but that's a whole 'nother story). I eat what I eat because of my own personal ethical & environmental choices and I expect other people to follow their own ethics and make their own decisions.

I've taken it upon myself to get a little education about food over the past year. I don't mean learning nutritional information. Unless you're a moron it's actually pretty easy to eat a balanced diet. I mean learning about the production of food, how it's grown, where it comes from, how it's slaughtered (if applicable), why the chain of food (note: not the circle of life chain of food) functions the way it does.

One thing has been repeated over and again. Corn is bad. Corn is the debbil. Corn is everywhere and it will kill you. Okay, so maybe it won't kill you. But it IS everywhere and the evils of corn are so pervasive that there isn't a facet of the food production industry that is not somehow involved with corn.

Take, for instance, the beef industry. When you think of a cow, you picture it standing knee deep in a luxurious field of grass, chewing its cud, lowing at its calf, a red bank barn somewhere in the distance, and so on and so forth. Idyllic. And great, cows are made to eat grass. That's what they do. It keeps them healthy and happy.

Guess what cows shouldn't eat? Corn. They can't digest corn properly and tend to get sick and require antibiotics. A cow in the wild would never say to itself "Mmm look at that luscious corn field, fuck this grass y'all."

Guess who's having a massive advertising campaign? Ontario Corn Fed Beef! People, please don't believe the hype. Corn fed beef is ridiculously bad for agriculture, the consumer, the cows, and the environment. Avoid beef altogether if you can't find grain or grass fed.

Why is it bad?
- they have to do a lot of work to make cows eat corn because it's not a natural food for them
- corn fed cows are prone to sickness, so they are injected with antibiotics before slaughter, which are unnecessary in grass fed cattle
- corn crops are almost 100% owned by Monsanto, which is pretty much the world's most evil corporation (genetically modified foods, legal battles with small farmers, and so on)
- corn fed beef is not from your happy outside cow; it's from a giant factory farm which are terrible for the environment

There's so much more. Please check out Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals and the excellent documentary Food, Inc. I've also heard good things about the documentary King Corn. While the books have a bit of a vegetarian lean (Safran Foer is vegetarian) their discussions of the food chain are definitely, shall we say, enlightening.

The take away? Seriously, kids, avoid that corn fed beef. The marketing industry is almost as evil as the corn industry, but don't let their shiny posters fool you. Corn fed bad. Grass fed good.

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