...or at least sit and ponder it's pedigree. Yes, it's come down to that – pedigree. Do you know where your food comes from? If not, do you want to know? I'm not just talking about carrots and lettuce. I mean beef, poultry and pork. The recent exposé by Rolling Stone Magazine really got to me.
I was outraged that factory farms, like the huge Smithfield pig ones, can be both so horrible to the pigs involved and so destructive to the environment. Yet it's far too easy to pick up that pound of bacon and drop it into your supermarket cart and not think about it, or the eggs or the nicely wrapped up steak. How did things get this far out of control? What are we, the consumer, thinking (or not-thinking)? Why aren't we thinking?
I knew the situation was bad and, more than a year ago, we started to source better choices for everything from sausage to steak. But the sad truth was that, after reading the Rolling Stone article, no one that I sounded-off to that day knew what I was talking about (save for Jack). That's just it, the average American mind is not thinking about where the meat in their steak, burger or taco is coming from.
They never give a thought to the history or origin of their bacon and eggs. Is it really that most Americans care only that food tastes good and is cheap?
Well the good news (?) is: It's not a sustainable form of farming, and eventually it will break (unless all the factory farms move to Eastern Europe or elsewhere where they can continue to be nicely hidden). That's the thing, too - all of this is hidden from the American eater - that alone should peak outrage by the American public, but it doesn't seem to. It's like this huge environmental disaster, which is swept under the carpet but remains living and mutating there. Those factory farms are scared, too - they won't let anyone in to see them. I'm sure they are afraid that, some roving reporter might actually expose the truth and that Americans might start to understand and care about their food chain.
But not all Americans are ostriches. There's a minority who still use the thing above their shoulders: Like Dairy Queen at The Ethicurean,, who posted a satellite photo of a pink lagoon of pig poop in North Carolina, and who outed Sysco's "White Marble Farms"; like the minds behind the Meatrix (brilliant stuff); like Michael Pollan who taught us about chicken farming (and I have *yet* to find a local non-stewing chicken to buy which meets my standards - anyone?); like Fast Food Nation's Eric Schlosser.
So what do I want you to do? First, just think about food that doesn't come from the ground (– I'm hoping you are already thinking about lettuce, tomatoes, etc.). That deli turkey, the taco, the rotisserie chicken, the steakhouse hunk o' meat - does it really "meat" your standards? Was the animal it came from healthy and somewhat happy? (Can it turn itself around in its pen? Does it have to stand in excrement all day?)
Are you listening, yet?
Did you eat that unknown bacon?
Ideas for Action - Take the next step How to use awareness in practice:
Use your dollars to make your statement on this issue. Buy local first – when you can. Choose grass-fed, or the new "pasture-raised" label at the very least. Know where the local farms are. Be choosey. Change brands... go ahead take a risk. (And recognize the origins of brands that you see, Smithfield, Tyson, Sysco, Perdue etc.) Look for a place of origin on a package or sign - is it USA? Know the Local sources. Join or form a group and buy a part of an animal (1/4 cow, 1/2 pig, etc.) directly from the farm and use your freezer to store real food, not processed.
N.B. I noticed when looking at the satellite photos of rural North Carolina that the "farms"are positioned so that they can't easily be been seen from the main roads. The photos of farms I viewed showed one long private access road and often the farm was surrounded by trees or huge fields on all sides.Further Reading