Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Mar

Dear Mark: Cheap Meat?

Dear Mark,

I am curious what you recommend for people who either don’t have access to or can’t regularly afford grass-fed, organic, free-range meats? It [cost] is a lot of the reason we are mostly vegetarian – we could have organic meat on a regular basis, or we can have fresh fruits and veggies for us and, more importantly, our young sons, to snack on. I believe the fresh produce is more important, and our budget just won’t allow for both, so we stick to mostly vegetarian – and less expensive – sources of protein. I’d like to hear tips for how to actually apply some of this in these situations, and what you recommend then. Is it better to eat less meat and make sure what you have is organic, or keep eating the same amount of the conventional stuff (which is worse for our bodies and the environment)?

Judy, you raise a number of great points, and I know they’re common concerns. Ideally, we would all eat grass-fed/grass-finished meat all the time, but because of a variety of circumstances (budget, limited availability at home/during travel, etc.) it’s not always possible for people, myself included. For these reasons, the Primal Blueprint also looks at logical, reasonable compromises. If I can’t eat grass-fed meat, I look for the cleanest meat I can find (no hormones, no antibiotics, etc.). But I absolutely suggest that people include meat in their diets, even if they don’t have access to grass-fed.

First, let’s look at the issue of availability. Unfortunately, grass-fed and/or organic meats aren’t carried by many grocery stores. However, I think that trend is beginning to change. While Whole Foods, Wild Oats and community co-ops seem to be the most common sources for these items, more and more “regular” supermarkets are getting in the game. As always, the more people request it, the more likely stores will consider adding these options. That said, there’s a substantial mail order market for grass-fed and/or organic meats, many with competitive pricing.

Another option: small area farms that sell direct to consumers. You’ll usually get the best deal by purchasing 25 lbs. to half a cow, lamb, goat, etc. If you have a deep freezer, it’s ideal. Otherwise, find a few friends, neighbors, or family members who you can split an order with.

Also, just a note about labels… Meat that is labeled grass-fed isn’t necessarily “grass-finished.” Nearly all beef cattle eat grass at some point. Others, those usually labeled grass-fed, eat grass until the final few weeks before slaughter, when they’re switched to a grain diet. During this relatively brief window, the omega ratio reverses to pretty much that of mostly/entirely grain-fed cattle. Look for “grass-finished” or “100% grass-fed.” Though many farms that raise grass-fed cattle also follow other “clean meat” standards, not all do. USDA Organic uses the most stringent rules and certification, including the absence of any pesticides or herbicides on grazing land/feed and moderate animal treatment standards. But keep in mind, also, that USDA Organic doesn’t mean grass-fed. On top of all of this, we’re seeing a new class of “animal-welfare” labels offered by industry certification as well as animal-rights groups. (Whole Foods manages its own standards and labeling.) (I know, Judy, you’ve asked about this element as well.) Standards for these certifications vary considerably. If you buy direct from a farm, you may be able to get the most information about how the animals are raised.

While it’s true that “100% grass-fed, organic” offers the best of all worlds, it’s usually more expensive and more difficult to find. My advice for best compromises: first look for a label that says 100% grass-fed with “no hormones” and “no antibiotics.” This kind of meat encompasses important “clean” elements (in terms of an individual’s consumption) and offers the better grass-fed omega ratio. Next choice: clean, grain-fed meats. Just be sure to add more omega 3s from fish, fish oil supplements and vegetables sources to make up for the 6:3 ratio deficit.

Thanks, as always, for your questions and comments. Keep ‘em coming!

ILoveButter Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Pondering Protein

Imitation Crab: What is That Stuff?

Dr. Michael Eades: Another Reason to Eat Grass Fed Beef

Typical North American Diet is Deficient in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. No dairy….. no animal product clothing…. No medications for 12 years (pre-vegan) have not been sick since – sorry…..

    What would happen to all the animals? Now, you’re inviting my loveliest of dreams. Firstly, there would be a halt to artificially inseminating and breeding them. I am in favor of population control for all human and non-human animals.

    I live in Florida – the south is filled with areas that have backyard/urban/sub-urban chickens. Chickens were meant to be wild. The only “problem” animals would be cows & pigs.

    I’m pretty certain many people such as myself with ample property could/would foster many/most. There are countless numbers of sanctuaries – all provide quite well for the animals and exist only on donations – If the government now supports the animal-as-food industries to the tune of 87 billion$/year – perhaps some of that $ could be filtered into the care of animals till their “time”?

    However, it is said – if all factory farm animals were released they would require 3/4 of the US land mass…. that’s how critical the situation has become. As it is now, it is not sustainable -we have literally created a monster.

    Of course nothing happens “overnight” – I believe in time there will be a slow-down on meat eating -so much of the industry is now kept artificially low to keep people buying the “product”. For example the Consumer Price Index records that houses, cars, non-food goods rose approx. 1400% since the 50’s – compared to foods (mainly animal-based foods) which have only risen 300%. If nothing else, I’d like to see my tax dollars not support an industry that I philosophicaly am opposed to. Let the market determine. If the true costs were revealed to people in the $ it takes to clean the water/dispose of remnant wastes, truck/process/refridgerate meats – many would say it’s not worth the expense. Reality would change things slowly – as I think it is already….

    Thanks for being open to hear an alternate scenario – it’s not perfect. But certainly the current situation with manure lagoons, tremendous water/fuel/pharmecutical use to grow/process meat is much worse.

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
  2. Some animals kill other animals for food to survivie on, that’s their instict to do so, they’re designed that way.
    So, i believe it’s perfectly OK to eat meat.
    “My belief” is that i think everyone should include “clean” meat in their diet occasionally. I used to not eat meat, just fish, turkey, chicken. But, recently i started including some meat in my diet, it’s actually GOOD 4 U!
    (Just what i believe, but, to each his own)

    Donna wrote on March 26th, 2008
  3. So Donna…. just curious – “it’s actually GOOD 4 U” – care to elaborate? I’ve been in and out of books, doctors websites, assorted dietary experts on and off the internet…. have yet to find anything about meat that is not replaceable (most times better) in a plant based diet. Am very receptive to learn differently. Thanks.

    Provoked wrote on March 26th, 2008
  4. Posting this recommendation for anyone who might be interested – farmer Joel Salatin has a couple of really wonderful books that deal with alternatives to factory farms. The best starting place, I think, is his book, Holy Cows and Hog Heaven, which describes how a farm can produce livestock without resorting to manure lagoons and feedlots. Beware, though, if you are sensitive to criticism – Salatin is blunt, and no one group escapes his critical eye. He is equally likely to point out the foibles (as he sees them) of liberals, conservatives, city people, vegans, producers of factory farmed meat, the USDA, the FDA, big business, you name it. It’s a hard book to read if you have a thin skin, but I can accept his criticisms of things I hold dear because he is so intellectually honest. He has actually led me to question some of my previous beliefs, like the notion that regulations fix problems.

    Migraineur wrote on March 26th, 2008
  5. “have yet to find anything about meat that is not replaceable (most times better) in a plant based diet”


    I am a normal weight, prediabetic person who takes no meds, but can achieve normal glucose levels with a low carb diet. If I eat starches in even moderate amounts, my BG goes into levels that reach into the officially diabetic range, which if sustained long enough, would definitely progress to full-blown diabetes.

    So what can I eat for protein and still stay healthy? Plant based protein sources are starchy.

    Beans/legumes? Only in the smallest of portions, more like condiments. The starch is simply too much for my system. Granted my BG won’t go quite as high as with grains, but it still goes into the range where cellular damage is done (over 140 mg/dl) and stays there too long (hours). Soy especially is a legume I avoid because of its negative effect on the thyroid (I am also hypothyroid), except in very small, condiment portions of naturally fermented soy, like raw soy sauce and miso.

    Grains, especially high protein grains? Way too starchy, even if the kernal is left completely intact (that is my definition of “whole grain” – ground grains are not whole anymore). I do include a tiny bit of quinoa for variety, but again, more like a condiment or stew thickener, not large portions. I sometimes sprout grains and use more like a garnish, but even so, it would be hard to meet both my protein and BG control requirements with sprouted grain.

    I consume lots of non-starchy veggies, probably more than some vegetarians, certainly more than “muffin vegetarians”. But there aren’t enough calories, fat, or protein in veggies to keep anyone going for long on only that. I also put a lot of thought into my plant foods, choosing a lot of locally produced in-season produce from small family farms instead of mechanically harvested, over-processed industrial fruits and veggies from mega-farms. Industrial scale mono-cropping with mechanical harvesting has significant negative effects on wildlife populations, from accidental death (as previously mentioned) to habitat loss, as well as soil degradation and loss. Huge produce farms in the Central Valley of CA (serving the entire country) and other areas have had a devastating effect on the native animals and ecosystems because it is all about *extracting* from nature and returning little or nothing in return. I wish I knew more people promoting “plant-based” diets acknowledged the damage done by the dominant forms of plant food production.

    That leaves animal products for my protein. I take great care in those choices. I could probably “get by” with eggs and dairy and not meat, but I have a different view of “compassion” I guess so I don’t draw the line here, though some do.

    The meat and eggs I buy are from a small “hobby” farm where the animals live well. They are processed by a local service, not shipped long distance to a huge plant. My dairy source is farther away (but still instate), but I have visited it, too, and the herd is small and on pasture, not confined indoors and eating an unnatural diet. The milking parlor is mobile and goes to the cows in the field. They even keep the gimpy ones around, instead of sending them out for processing into hamburger. If there are truly “happy cows” in CA, they are at my dairy. I doubt there are “happy cows” at the many CAFO dairies in So Cal, where herd sizes are enormous and conditions are miserable.

    I also buy some wild fish, but take into account mercury and PCB contamination, overfishing, and long-transport issues, etc.

    So given my health constraints, I can’t see that a purely plant based diet simply is an option if I want to stay healthy, nor do I think it is optimal for most people. I would never argue that someone consume animal products if they are dead set against it for whatever reason, but I do chafe if they suggest no one should. A lot thought goes into my food choices, including compassion and awareness of animal suffering, though vegans may not see it that way.

    But I think the more important point than arguing about teh correct definition of “compassion” is to just think about our food choices in the first place, and consume with eyes wide open, rather than blindly. A simple way to put it might be consume “everything about the food”, not just the food itself. To me, that is the bigger travesty, that omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan, too many people just know too little about the food they are choosing, how it is produced, and by whom, what *all* the ramifications and costs are, whether the foods are animal-based *or* plant based.

    Anna wrote on March 26th, 2008
  6. Anna: Just wanted to let you know that I stopped by my public library on the way home and they had a copy of Aidells’ Meat book. It’s mine for two weeks (and I can extend it to six via the computer). Thanks for the tip!!

    Dave C. wrote on March 26th, 2008
  7. Dave C.,

    I’ve got my eye on Aidell’s pork book next, because I find pork very versatile.

    But if you really want to get adventurous, consider Fergus Henderson’s or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall’s books (British), both of which provide ample ideas for nose-to-tail eating.

    I didn’t mention it earlier, but I think that making use of as much of the animal as possible is part of honoring the animals whose lives end to nourish ours.

    Admittedly, much of this is new territory for me though I’ve made a lot of progress already. Just today, I took delivery of a cooler full of many of the “odd bits” from my farm source, such as pig’s feet & ears, organs, leaf lard, etc. for my freezer. Some of the organ meat will go into the cat food, but the majority I will try to use for us. My husband, living in Britain until age 25 and of very modest means growing up, won’t find this difficult at all (his mom used to roast a pig’s head for holidays and buy cold cooked tongue slices at the deli because the low cost).

    Time to dive into the cooler and see what I’ve got here. Wish me luck!

    Anna wrote on March 26th, 2008
  8. Anna….. ya got me – I’m not a doctor – like my previous post mentioned I haven’t been ill for 12 years since becoming vegan. But, I did Google Vegan Diabetic and was surprised to see that there are many sites that actually encourage experimentations with vegan diets to curtail/eliminate diabetes…. Certainly, you and your doctors know best. I’m so sorry you’re ill. But thanks for reminding me of my own (sometimes taken for granted) good health – Best to you….

    Provoked wrote on March 26th, 2008
  9. I’m pretty certain many people such as myself with ample property could/would foster many/most. There are countless numbers of sanctuaries – all provide quite well for the animals and exist only on donations – If the government now supports the animal-as-food industries to the tune of 87 billion$/year – perhaps some of that $ could be filtered into the care of animals till their “time”?

    Nearly a billion of the world’s people suffer from chronic malnutrition, not to mention lack of access to clean drinking water and decent medical care, and you want people and the government to spend money on livestock sanctuaries. Provoked, you’ve certainly got your priorities in order. I’m touched by your compassion.

    Sonagi wrote on March 26th, 2008
  10. Compassion????

    “Spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.” -Gandhi


    “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ” Albert Einstein

    Provoked wrote on March 26th, 2008
    • Gandhi said that because he was a Hindu and was influenced by the Hindu belief that every living being has a soul and this soul either transcends to a higher being or a lower being based on its Karma.

      Albert Einstein although not exactly religious in the dogmatic sense was influenced by Hinduism as well as other eastern philosophies as were many other prominent people of his times.

      Also; Gandhi ate diary, drank milk, used honey regularly etc – maybe he should have practiced what he preached given your interpretation of his statement Provoked

      Regardless, someone’s religious outlook or personal moral code is not decider of what is right or wrong. Also; what is even more ironic is that Hindu religious texts actually prescribe eating meat and serving them as sacrifices and religious offerings. This even includes bovine; cows which are considered holy are described as sacrificial animals which were meant to be offered to the Gods as well as eaten as per Hindu texts – A quick read of Swami Vivekananda’s complete works details this irony as well other such quirks.

      In fact; there is a theory that the practice of untouchablity itself came about due to the refusal of some groups to consider the cow holy (this holy status was given due to various reasons such as increased importance in farming; for dairy; basic agricultural usage; result of myths and folklore in Hindu religion which gave it an almost mythical status; most importantly increased belief in the soul and Karmic theory etc – maybe there were a few crazy vegans there too :D)

      Due to the refusal of these groups to consider cows or any other life as holy and their continued consumption of these animals as forms of food and use them for other purposes such as clothing etc they came to be ostracized by main stream Hindu society which had largely become Vegetarian and even vegan or partially vegan in some cases.

      This is no different from the case of the Buraku in Japanese society who were treated even worse off mainly because of their dealing with animal carcasses and consumption of meat considered forbidden due to Buddhism and its version of Karmic Belief.

      Gandhi was a Political Leader and Einstein was a Physicist; neither was a dietitian let alone someone fully capable of making an informed statement about this and even they do not entirely agree with your outlook as not using animals as food sources (they did consume animal derived products such as milk, diary, honey etc).

      They only were against consumption of animal meat and even there Gandhi ate eggs (although he was not supposed to as per his religious beliefs as well as the community he was born into) if I am not mistaken.

      So Provoked don’t get all self righteous about this!

      Cheers and more Love

      Just My Thoughts wrote on July 10th, 2009
  11. It takes 6 times more land and resources to produce a pound of meat than does plant based foods…..

    The water! Ha! 2500 gallons = 1 pound of beef
    Things that grow from the ground? 80.

    One more suggestion if Livestock’s Long Shadow is too technical….

    New York Times: Mark Bittman “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler”

    You’d be amazed at water usage/waste that fuel consumption creates:

    Provoked wrote on March 26th, 2008
  12. I have no idea why some of my comment will not post – it’s very odd….

    Provoked wrote on March 26th, 2008
  13. Since I’ve tried to respond to and have been unsuccessful – I can only assume that perhaps links are not permitted.

    If you Google “Livestock’s Long Shadow” – a well researched study, it shows that a meat based diet encourages starvation. Instead of growing plant based foods third world countries are being deforestized to graze American cattle. All benefits to powerful finacial interests. Instead of sending money in emergencies our Government sends foods (mostly animal based and not these people’s normal diet). These releif animal based foods have to be refridgerated during transport and uses a huge amount of fuel/time to transport.

    Meat as food become nearly useless for those it’s intended to help. It is riddled with “special safety handeling” issues. I know, I lived through “government emergency aid” in a hurricane – No roof over our heads – no electricity for weeks. Meat???? What we had on hand spoiled quickly – and was nasty to dispose of. It was the shipments of fruits, vegetables, water and our own shelves of cereals, grains and canned goods that made the difference. This is on a small scale – multiply this by millions, thousands of miles away…… No, people would not starve…. Just gotta stop feeding 3/4 of the worlds grain to factory farm animals. It’s about distribution.

    It takes 6 times more land and resources to produce a pound of meat than does plant based foods…..

    The water! Ha! 2500 gallons = 1 pound of beef
    Things that grow from the ground – vegetable protein? 80.

    New York Times: Mark Bittman “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler” You’d be amazed at water usage/waste that fuel consumption of meat based diets create.

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  14. Provoked, all your assumptions about efficiency are about grain-fed meat. I can tell you’re new to Mark’s blog, because both Mark and most of his regular commenters recognize grass-fed meat to be preferable. There are huge tracts of land in the world that would grow grass quite readily but need chemical inputs and irrigation in order to grow grain and soy. In those cases, the efficiency equation reverses solidly in favor of livestock production.

    It seems like you keep shifting your arguments. When someone takes on your arguments about factory farming, you shift to absolutist statements about the morality of taking animal lives. When someone points out that animal lives are taken no matter what you eat, you turn to arguments about health. When someone questions the health value of a vegetarian diet, you turn back to factory farming. And although you haven’t said this explicitly, I sense a desire to equate human and animal life; otherwise, why is animal life so inviolable? And yet when I say that humans take lives more compassionately than foxes, you seem to resent my lowering humans to the standards of the animal kingdom. This position seems to me to be inconsistent – either we are equal to animals or we are not.

    You have, however, expressed some willingness to hear the other side, so I have a few reading suggestions for you. Do check out Joel Salatin’s books to learn more about why some of us think livestock raising can be humane. Check out the Weston A. Price Foundation for information about nutrition. Google “Diabetes low-carb” for a huge body of info about why grains and legumes are not a health food for anyone who is predisposed to obesity and diabetes. Or look for a book called Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution at your library.

    As for links, I think comments with links are moderated (you get a little italic message at the top saying your comment is awaiting moderation) to help protect the blog from spammers. As you’ve probably noticed, they do show up eventually.

    Migraineur wrote on March 27th, 2008
  15. Provoked, you are describing efficient production of calories. And by promoting that, you are accepting that the population numbers that have to be supported are optimum, simply because they exist.

    For instance, might it be possible that we have exceeded the carrying capacity of a given geographical area, if we define that carrying capacity as having to provide a diet that leads to optimal health?

    And despite what you say, it is not at all settled that a plant-based diet is optimum for humans. In fact, it is becoming incresingly clear that it isn’t.

    You are basically saying we should keep people crowding into cities, and since we can only feed the billions of people now on the planet by feeding them grains, then grains must be the optimal diet. That just doesn’t follow.

    If you want to make the arguement that plant-based diets are healthier, make that argument, and back it up with research supporting it. (You’ll be hard-pressed to do that, but go ahead and try.)

    But just stating that it’s more efficient to feed people with grains is meaningless if we are trying to figure out what’s healthy. When you do that, you just treat humans like some great herd of cattle.

    Charles wrote on March 27th, 2008
  16. You’re right, Migraineur. Most comments with links get dropped into our moderation bin. I can assure you that only spam comments are deleted. All of Provoked’s comments have been posted.

    Aaron wrote on March 27th, 2008
  17. to Charles:
    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

    Red meat, dairy foods, and eggs are the biggest sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, which promote heart disease, the number-one killer in the United States. I estimate that eliminating saturated fat and cholesterol by not eating meat, dairy foods, poultry, and eggs would save about 65,000 lives per year.

    What’s more, replacing those animal foods with plant foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber–which is absent from animal foods–would save thousands more lives every year.

    American Institute for Cancer Research: World Cancer Research Fund International:The result of a five-year process involving nine independent teams of scientists from around the world, hundreds of peer reviewers, and 21 international experts who reviewed and analyzed over 7,000 large-scale studies, the report recommendations for cancer prevention: excerps: obesitiy is a problem (most vegetarians are on the slim side)…. The association between diet and cancer, the new assessment finds the evidence linking red meat (beef, pork and lamb) to colorectal cancer is more convincing than it was a decade ago. Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed per day increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. “We are recommending 5 servings or more of vegetables and fruit daily because, like physical activity, they pack a double whammy against cancer. Probable evidence indicates they help reduce cancer risk on their own, and as low-energy-dense foods, they help maintain a healthy weight, which the evidence shows has a big influence on cancer risk”. Of course alchol consumption, excersize and lifestyle changes are also recommended…..

    Please research: The China Sudy best selling book by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II.

    Scientists have been trying to figure out why vegetarians have only about half the cancer risk of meat-eaters. The latest plant supernutrient, beta-sitosterol, was lauded at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology by University of Buffalo nutrition researcher Atif Awad, Ph.D. Beta-sitosterol was shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in the test tube, cutting the number of cancer cells by 66 percent compared with control cell cultures.

    Osteoporosis. High protein intake is known to encourage urinary calcium losses
    Impaired Kidney Function. When people eat too much protein, it releases nitrogen into the blood or is digested and metabolized. This places a strain on the kidneys, which must expel the waste through the urine. High-protein diets are associated with reduced kidney function.

    Heart Disease. Typical high-protein diets are extremely high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. The effect of such diets on blood cholesterol levels is a matter of ongoing research. However, such diets pose additional risks to the heart, including increased risk for heart problems immediately following a meal. Evidence indicates that meals high in saturated fat adversely affect the compliance of arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks.

    some foods are addictive?

    Studies suggest that cheese, chocolate, sugar, and meat all spark the release of opiate-like substances that trigger the brain’s pleasure center and seduce us into eating them again and again. These foods stimulate the same opiate receptors in your brain as heroin or morphine, but to a much lesser degree….

    I really would love to just link you to the many studies supporting my position – but this site does not permit such. You can do your own research…..

    On a personal level – I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for a decade+ ….. I encouraged 3 neighborhood couples to give it a try….. since the beginning of the year 6 of the 8 folks have lost considerable (excess weight) – 7 of the 8 have had their chlorestoral blood points drop – 8 of 8 are “never hungry”. And everyone feels like they have “more energy”.

    You know, I can’t say what’s right for everybody – but I’ve done enough poking around environmental “green” sites to know that animal based foods are just not sustainable – A cow and pig make about 8 times more poop than a human – multiply that by billions of animals….. that’s a lot of methane. It is said that raising animals for food is the single biggest contriubutor to global warming.

    This is an awful long response, but you did ask for something to back up my argument…… I challenge you now to show me where any health study recommends eating “more” animal based foods? Or any environmentally concerned organization that doesn’t support an increase in plant based foods?

    “Have exceeded the carrying capacity of a given geographical area?”….. Yeah, I was one of those “hippies” 30 years ago screaming about population control – I did my “green” then – I went child-free…..


    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  18. You won’t get an argument from me that the dominant US system of meat production (CAFOs, grain-feeding to herbivores, overseas deforestation for grain production, US & international policies that push cash-crops at the expense of local food production, etc. ) is seriously flawed and worth dismantling. Each year I am finding new ways to reduce my participation or drop out of that system.

    But where I will differ is that the *only* solution to the problems is to not raise meat for food by any method. Also, it’s time to put those tired statistics of what it takes to produce a pound of beef put to bed; I’ve been hearing that mantra and watching the hand-wringing for 25 or more years. It’s no more helpful now than it was back then. It shuts down thinkidoesn’t give people a clue that there is another way, and there is.

    As I’ve mentioned before, but non-meat eaters seem to conveniently ignore, it isn’t only industrial-scale animal production that is unsustainable and detrimental to health, local economies, and the environment. The same charges *equally* apply to modern industrial scale plant food production; it is also very energy and water intensive, creates massive ecosystem imbalances, and undermines local *and* distant economies.

    Small, poly-cultural farms with plants *and* animals raised in a way suitable to their individual nature simply do not wreak a toll on the ecosystem, in fact they can support it, because they don’t extract resources, as industrial scale agriculture does (plant or animal).

    Anna wrote on March 27th, 2008
  19. Provoked:

    Red meat, dairy foods, and eggs are the biggest sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, which promote heart disease, the number-one killer in the United States.

    Ah, the old lipid hypothesis. As someone (I think Mark) said earlier, you must be new on this site, as it is pretty much dedicated to demonstrating that argument is unsupported by any dependable science.

    I would recommend Gary Taubes’s book, good Calories, Bad Calories,” which makes it clear that the whole saturated fat and cholesterol theory is not only unsupported by good research, it’s contradicted.

    Seriously, you have just displayed yourself as someone who really hasn’t read the research, and looked into the history of the whole “saturated fat will kill you” myth. And it is just that, a myth.

    I really would suggest you look back in the archives of this site and many others with a similar bent and educate yourself. All of your arguments have been refuted at one time or another, and increasingly so.

    Charles wrote on March 27th, 2008
  20. Oh, and as to colon cancer, one study (I think it was Framingham) demonstrated that if your cholesterol level was below 190, you had three times as great a risk of getting colon cancer as someone with a total cholesterol of 220, and twice as great a risk of all cancers as someone with a total cholesterol of 260.

    And as to the China study, Campbell’s description of it was contradicted by the actual data.

    But really, you are just arguing from a real ignorance of the science. Not what you read about the science in the popular media, but the real science.

    Charles wrote on March 27th, 2008
  21. Provoked,

    I think this discussion is getting beat to death and we should move on.

    If you had been reading this site for a while, you would know that I and most of my readers are convinced that 1) blood levels of cholesterol per se have little to do with increased risk for heart disease 2) that dietary fat (even sat fat) and dietary cholesterol are “red herrings” when it comes to heart disease and that the main culprit is excess carbohydrate. And by that I mean pretty much any form of carbohydrate in excess of 200 grams a day. The PCRM statement that cutting meat,etc would save 65,000 lives a year is way out of context vis a vis the science. Like any committee, they are 20 years behind the curve. I would submit that if we could get people to eliminate grains, simple sugars and processed carbs we could save 500,000 lives a year (and that’s just from heart disease and stroke…)

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 27th, 2008
  22. I read The China Study, and Campbell impresses me as a rather bad scientist. A good scientist does not conflate correlation and causation; Campbell does. A good scientist designs and performs experiments that could prove his hypothesis wrong; Campbell does not do these kinds of experiments. A bad scientist will claim to have proven a hypothesis; good scientists know that hypotheses can never be proven, only supported or refuted. And he’s not really clear about what conclusions his research supports. As far as I can tell, he has shown that if you add fractionated casein to commercial rat chow, rats get cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. That doesn’t really say much about humans eating whole dairy products, and especially about eating whole dairy products that are not combined with starches (a key component of commercial rat chows).

    I think that if you look at the body of evidence that purports to show that saturated fats cause heart disease, you’ll see similar bad science.
    Check out, for example, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS).

    Cows and pigs do make a lot of manure, but this is only a problem if you treat manure like a toxic byproduct. Grass farmers treat manure as fertilizer.

    Migraineur wrote on March 27th, 2008
  23. to Migraineur: “It seems like you keep shifting your arguments.” I’m trying to respond to 3 people on this post – If I sound “inconsistent” it’s because I sort of am getting “ganged up on”…..

    The grass fed cattle – Isn’t there a problem with grazing??? I seem to recall several “land grants” that the government is issuing – and a fight with wild Bison and their needs. Also, am I wrong that grass-fed animals also go to the feed-lot for a few months for “finishing”. At least that’s what M. Pollan’s articles lead me to believe.

    I would have elaborated more about the “fox” – you chose to end the discussion: “you seem to resent my lowering humans to the standards of the animal kingdom. This position seems to me to be inconsistent – either we are equal to animals or we are not.” Animals like foxes, lions, cats, etc – have no choice…. the operate on instinct. Physically, we are the “same” as animals. We all feel hunger, pain, fear, etc. And we all have an interest in our own lives – Since man does trump animals intellectually (and spiritually) we are capable of making choice to kill or not…… At times, these choices actually improve man’s lot – health wise and environmentally. Certainly spiritually, as not many (omnivores) “enjoy” the killing part. I realize most who raise their livestock not only have a interests in their beasts for monetary reasons – but also because they are living beings. Ranchers, farmers (and omnivores) I believe would rather there was another way beyond the killing – I don’t think foxes give a darn either way.

    I promise I will look closer at the Weston Price Foundation – Especially the website tour for vegetarians. I understand that “Wise Traditions” are not in favor of factory farming, de-beaking, and all the other attrocities “modern” agriculture has devised….. This is good. I am very much in favor of a return to traditional farm situations. I am attempting to build a chicken house (yes, for rescued factory birds) – I have no problem with consuming eggs – if they weren’t kept is such horrific conditions. Perhaps you and I aren’t that far from each other in thinking after all?

    Also – Google “Diabetes vegan”….. I think we might reach an impasse’ here…..

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
    • To all you people arguing over this vegan/omnivore minefield … you are getting on my nerves. You each exhibit the prejudiced, slanted, pejorative tactics that you accuse the other of using.

      Giraffes eat vegetables – leaves. Lions eat other animals – meat. I have never seen a lion try to convince a giraffe to eat meat, nor have I ever seen a giraffe try to convince a lion to eat leaves. One prefers one type of food, the other, a different type. Yet each flourishes.

      The giraffe does not accuse the lion of being immoral because it kills and eats a zebra. The lion does not think the giraffe immoral for striping the leaves off a tree, even if the tree dies. To each his own.

      There are people groups on this planet whose members have rarely, if ever, eaten meat. They exist and thrive on diets composed entirely of fruits, berries, roots and other vegetables. Other societies sustain themselves on a diet almost exclusively composed of animal protein and fat. Many of them would be hard pressed to get one serving of fruit or vegetables regularly. Yet they, too thrive. To each his own.

      So, knock it off already! I am more than happy to let vegetarians live your life as you would. Please offer omnivores the same consideration. Who made either of you the arbiters of societal morality?

      Eating meat is NOT immoral. Eating vegetables is NOT immoral. However, eating meat produced in such a way that it endangers the planet’s ecology and poisons the meat, or eating vegetables grown in such a ways as to pollute the land and poison the vegetables, IS immoral.

      So, quit bitching about WHAT each of you eats, and grow up and examine the way in which each of you allows your food to be PRODUCED. Yes, YOU. Meat eaters, you can put an end to CAFOs tomorrow – if you cared enough. Without your money, they dry up almost overnight. And, if you vegetarians cared enough, you could end fertilizer runoff, and damage to the water table, and single use, land depleting practices and all the rest of big-Ag’s practices almost overnight, the same way.

      Some animals eat meat, some don’t Humans are, like it or not, animals. Some of them eat meat, some of them don’t. Get over it!

      Peace, Love, and Good Night.

      Big Dave wrote on June 29th, 2013
  24. To Anna: “Small, poly-cultural farms with plants *and* animals raised in a way suitable to their individual nature simply do not wreak a toll on the ecosystem, in fact they can support it, because they don’t extract resources, as industrial scale agriculture does (plant or animal).” I agree – I never had a problem till I learned the term “factory farm” – I think small farms are the best/only way for the land, the farmer, the animals and the economy….. Can we go back 50 years?

    To All: No, I have not read this entire blog from the beginning…. sorry if this is an old argument – No one here is going to clean out their fridge of animal products….. I certainly am not going out for a steak any time soon – Can we all just agree to disagree? Maybe we’re all a little bit right & a little bit wrong.

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  25. I’m very familiar with every one of the arguments made to suggest that either meat eating is less health promoting or that abstaining from meat is more health-promoting. Anyone truly interested in seeing all sides of these arguments will quickly find that the references you cite are easily picked apart. If you look at them with a skeptic’s eye (for any side, really), they just don’t hold up very well.

    I can’t decide were to begin, so I’ll just pick a couple that stand out. Yes, I’ll agree that sugar tends to fuel appetite, over-consumption, weight gain, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and a host of other problems. Incidentally, starch breaks down into sugar. Opiate substances might play a supporting role, but I think the strongest influence is the glucose/energy regulation system, driven by carbohydrate intake, which drives insulin. Insulin exerts powerful influences on the brain and through the body and especially on hunger. Rapidly falling glucose levels will start hunger cravings like nothing else. Try it with a glucose meter something. Illuminating. It is, of course, more complicated than that, but suffice it to say that if insulin levels are kept low to moderate with minimal sugar and starch intake, hunger and overconsumption are not big issues. Try really overeating on just fat and animal products and non-starchy veggies, with zero added sugar and no starch for a few days. You’ll find it just isn’t possible to do very long. Fat and animal protein on their own just don’t generate hunger, they satisfy it. You might even lose weigh, surprisingly.

    I’ll grant you that meat and fat are sometimes implicated in studies, but what those studies always fail to control for is simultaneous carbohydrate intake (additionally, whether the meat is produced naturally or from unnatural factory farm situations, which greatly changes nutritional profiles). Very few people eat large amounts of meat or fat without also consuming a lot of carbohydrate. It makes a huge difference in the body’s biochemistry! Nutrition science since WWII has not always been very rigorous, and these studies are just a few of the examples of failing to isolate variables (which is unscientific). And I haven’t even gotten into how epidemiological studies fail to show causation, only correlation or how studies are designed to show a desired outcome. One has to be very careful about nutrition studies. They are often worse than useless.

    Check out the review of The China Study on Migraineur’s blog. It’s revealing.

    Really look into the cholesterol theory, with hard science data from someone other than drug sellers who profit from the manufactured fear of cholesterol, the animal rights people, and others who push a vegetarian or “no cholesterol” agenda. Cholesterol isn’t causative. It may indeed indicate something is out of whack in the body (such as hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation, or too much insulin production caused by high sugar/starch intake, as well as well as other pathological conditions) but the rigorous science does not really support the theory that cholesterol *causes* heart disease. Like many other notions that turn out to be missteps by our “great thinkers” (flat earth?), this one is past ready for a paradigm shift. If the theory was right, we really should have beaten heart disease by now.

    It is politically and nutritionally incorrect to say that eating animal products is actually healthy, plus the collective consciousness over the past half century has tended to reward those who toe the party line, and punish and silence those who question it. That is not how good, rigorous science is done, but politicl and social movements sort of stole the show and dominated what became accepted dogma. Question everything.

    Let’s see what else you suggest? Animal products are not rich in vitamins and minerals? What planet do you come from? That’s just plain wrong. Ounce for ounce there’s far more density of essential nutrients in animal products, especially the organs and also in eggs, than in any plant food. Additionally, eating a diet high in grains actually increases the body’s requirement for some nutrients, B complex and Vit C in particular, as well as some minerals. We aren’t herbivores, eating leaves all day. Anecdotal I know, but just last Sunday I had a conversation with someone who proudly claimed to be a super healthy, 7% body fat marathon trainer, living primarily on whole grains, tofu, and lettuce, who had to sit down and put his head down because he was getting dizzy from standing too long. Hmmm, he ate several servings of the very lovely Easter cakes and strawberry tarts. He didn’t have any blackberries because the seeds exacerbate his diverticulitis. I had a bowl of blackberries with whipped cream and felt fine. Doesn’t prove anything I know, but I thought it was ironic, particularly because when he got dizzy, he was telling me about his carb-loading, insulin pump-using hard-core exercising cycling friend with T1 diabetes who inexplicably couldn’t keep his BG from roller coasting). Isn’t a mystery to me.

    Animal products aren’t much of a source of fiber, ok, but quess what? The fiber requirements are highly overrated! That theory sure does sell a lot of surplus stuff, though, doesn’t it. It takes some digging, but once once gets past the circular reasoning of the fiber argument, there really isn’t much evidence that a lot of fiber is necessary or particularly beneficial. However, those that eat a lot of plant material, particularly grains, do get a bit addicted to fiber and find they cannot cut back. Plenty of fiber can come from non-starchy plants, but that they can’t provide the energy and nutrient density that animal products can, so a diet with both can be quite healthy without being excessively fibrous.

    PDRM, an arm of PETA. They aren’t exactly unbiased, so I doubt they just gather the data and let the data speak for itself, like good scientists do (and most physicians aren’t scientists, anyway- they are practitioners). In fact, I would argue that medical training, which is generally risk averse, is oppositional to scientific theory, which tends to rigorously question what we think we know and take risks.

    And for the last fallacy, I don’t doubt that most people who eat the typical crappy food in the American food supply wouldn’t see all sort of benefits from dietary changes that reduced processed foods and increased fresh foods, including vegetables. But that doesn’t mean that shunning animal products is the only way or even the best way to achieve those benefits. Crappy food is crappy, vegetarian or not. Reducing or eliminating crap always is better. Fresh regular food produced traditionally is better than anything processed in a huge factory.

    You know, Provoked, at one time I also believed and said a lot, if not most of the things you are saying here. I accepted them on faith, because intuitively, they made a lot of sense at the time. The problem is, while ti did point out some problems with where things are headed with conventional industrial diets and food production, it wasn’t the whole story, either. Plus it probably just masked some better, more sensible, but old-fashioned ideas. I certainly think that my years of Jane Brody- following with a high whole grain, lower fat, and low animal product diet did me some harm, which a more omnivorous diet is correcting (luckily not too late). The past few years of really looking under the surface of everything that is commonly accepted about diet, nutrition, and health, has been really transforming. I check and recheck everything now and have a much more skeptical eye for all claims. I’m always learning and re-evaluating. Too much depends upon it.

    Anna wrote on March 27th, 2008
  26. Anna “It is politically and nutritionally incorrect to say that eating animal products is actually healthy, plus the collective consciousness over the past half century has tended to reward those who toe the party line, and punish and silence those who question it. That is not how good, rigorous science is done, but politicl and social movements sort of stole the show and dominated what became accepted dogma. Question everything.” – Thanks very good advice…..

    Your friend with the blackberries – wouldn’t want him in my corner for veggies either…..

    “Crappy food is crappy, vegetarian or not. Reducing or eliminating crap always is better. ” I agree – It’s just going to be VERY difficult to provide affordable “good” food when we’re pushing 7 billion on the planet.

    “The past few years of really looking under the surface of everything that is commonly accepted about diet, nutrition, and health, has been really transforming. I check and recheck everything now and have a much more skeptical eye for all claims. I’m always learning and re-evaluating. Too much depends upon it.” Very wise indeed!

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  27. Migraineur:

    “Check out, for example, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS).”…… I will.

    “Cows and pigs do make a lot of manure, but this is only a problem if you treat manure like a toxic byproduct. Grass farmers treat manure as fertilizer.”….. “good” for now – but how long will it/can it last?

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  28. “Can we all just agree to disagree?”

    Absolutely! I guess by now, it is probably clear that none of us that have “ganged up” on you have come to our conclusions lightly. it’s interesting too, that you brought up Michael Pollan, who I have read as well. I have few nits to pick with Mr. Pollan* but overall, I like his work. I find it interesting that you only came away with the notion that grass-fed is something negative, though. Yes, he points out that all beef cattle start off grass fed but there is so much more to it, especially when taking a non-factory farm path.

    *Mr. Pollan has a lovely writing style and for those new to thinking about their food in a deeper sense, his writing is a great start. But it is rather incomplete and not exactly on mark nutritionally in some ways.

    I also recommend Real Food: What to Eat and Why, by Nina Planck. It’s a quick to read book, but chock full of ideas and well-researched reasoning. She grew up on a family organic farm (before organic was chic or commonplace), and became vegetarian (it was the trend) in her young adulthood, but found it didn’t jive with her health or her life experience. She became aware of the dissonance, if you will.

    I suppose there isn’t much incentive for someone committed to not consuming meat to explore anything that suggests a more omnivorous path, but if you decide to do so for information’s sake, the suggestion for Joel Salatin’s books is also a great one. So is the Weston Price foundation website, as well as Jo Robinson’s book and Eat Wild website as well as Shannon Haye’s.

    Best wishes to you.

    Anna wrote on March 27th, 2008
  29. Charles…. “one study (I think it was Framingham) demonstrated that if your cholesterol level was below 190, you had three times as great a risk of getting colon cancer as someone with a total cholesterol of 220, and twice as great a risk of all cancers as someone with a total cholesterol of 260.” Okay – now I’m VERY confused. I think it’s safe to say that all will argue the findings to the side they lean – Too many contradicting studies – I can only take care of this body (which does feel great) and has all the numbers in order. Everyone is different.

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  30. There is a British writer, Colin Tudge, with a book called So Shall We Reap, who has been studying population and food production since the early 60s. He knows little about nutrition sadly, but he makes a very good argument that population increase rates are slowing quite a bit and world population is going to level off (I don’t remember when he said but perhaps when my third grader is about 80?) and that the world actually *can* feed everyone both now as well as in the future if changes in food production get going (enough food *is* already produced now, but because it is about wealth-building, not feeding people, some starve and others waste, but that is another issue about how agriculture breeds inequity). I haven’t had time to further dive into this issue other data relating to feeding the world’s population but I plan to (rechecking).

    Once again, I think that the worries and answers of the 60s and 70s when the pop increase rates were really rising, haven’t caught up with the unexpected slowing of population growth in the past two decades. One thing that *is* clear is that food production needs to be made more sustainable *now* no matter what happens to the population rates. What I don’t see is enough movement towards sustainability.

    Oh yeah, manure – you *need* manure in a balanced biodynamic farm to balance the energy and nutrient cycle so you don’t extract more than you put into to the system. You won’t need manure lagoons, either. Joel Salatin explains the cycle system very well. My third grader gets it, so it isn’t too hard to comprehend, but it does take some time to think about it, since there is so little of this type of food production in the US anymore (and diminishing in other parts of the world).

    Polyculture is about working with nature, not fighting it. Manure lagoons ignore nature at great cost. There are all sorts of new ways of looking at animal production with modern view (but based on very traditional methods that farmers aren’t taught in ag school any more) that go way beyond bad grazing techniques and factory farms. If anyone had told me 30 years ago that I would have been reading about farming this much I would have thought them crazy. But it is a huge part of the food issues.

    I have some thoughts about affording the real cost of food but I think I’ll settle down now :-). Enough for two day, yes?

    Anna wrote on March 27th, 2008
  31. Provoked:

    I think it’s safe to say that all will argue the findings to the side they lean – Too many contradicting studies

    It’s interesting that you are now saying that everyone is different. You started out implying that everyone was basically the same, and all could benefit from a vegetarian diet.

    Actually the studies have been quite consistent. There is little if any relationship between cholesterol and heart disease, and often a negative relationship with overall mortality, particularly cancer and strokes.

    Please go ahead and Google “low cholesterol and cancer” and you’ll come up with a number of links about studies that have nothing to do with arguing for one side or the other.

    Certainly the Framingham researchers had no ax to grind, in fact they were looking for positive results from lowered cholesterol. Particularly in women, they found that higher cholesterol and saturated fat was protective.

    Japanese studies also showed a significant (called “dramatic”) decrease in stroke deaths and deaths from cerebral hemmorhage with an overall increase in animal fats, saturated fats, and animal protein.

    Again, Google “low cholesterol and stroke.” You will find some more confusing research. Confusing, but surprisingly consistent.

    If you leave this discussion confused, that’s a good thing.

    Charles wrote on March 27th, 2008
  32. Charles….. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist – We could both argue health till the grass-fed cows come home. Although I don’t think I ever said it…… I rescind: eating meat will NOT kill you – Can you concede that doing without will not either? I believe the human body is remarkably adaptable to many diets. I was wrong for making a generality. Pardon.

    “If you leave this discussion confused, that’s a good thing.” Thanx – at least you didn’t say: “just leave”….:)

    Anna: About the pop…… I’m not a researcher either – but taking 3 major studies: The UN, Pew and a National Geographic study – they all seem to point somewhere around 9 billion before it stabilizes – by the end of the 21st. Assuming this is so – is there enough for “all” to be well fed – on the premise that free-range chickens, non-warehoused hogs & grass fed cattle are the best nutritional (of the animal) foods? If that population needs houses, roads, schools, hospitals and all the other infrastructure – where do all the (food) animals live?…. Another monkey wrench: we’re loosing habitable land – There have already been environmental refugees caused by raising water and there’s also soil depletion to consider….. yes?

    ” If anyone had told me 30 years ago that I would have been reading about farming this much I would have thought them crazy.” I agree, I’m 53 and am learning more about beans and beef than I ever dreamed….. Who knows, maybe as more folks become veggies it will help with the free-range sustainability? That’s a bright side right?

    M.Pollan – I got more than the perceived “negatives” – just no need to elaborate – this forum knows them all quite well enough…… He’s done much to show both sides of the dilemma…..

    “affording the real cost of food” ….. am looking forward to it.

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  33. I sort of stumbled here…… maybe in search of some answers(?). Overall, it’s been quite an interesting debate – Great blog….. lots of enthusiasm and intelligence. Wish that some of the vegan/vegetarian sites had such articulate folks :)

    And not meaning to ruffle any feathers…. these are just questions: And NOT my intent to offend anyone here…..

    1. If there is a future that science will “grow” animal parts – as healthy and beneficial as grass-fed & free range animals meat – does anyone here think there will still be arguments – “it’s not as good as the real (living) thing” or the opposition: (beyond vegatarian, beyond vegan, beyond PETA):”it’s flesh, and still wrong to consume”. I think this is an ancient conflict – else why would so many versions of religions have special mandates, customs, rituals and rites surrounding man’s use of animals? Thoughts?

    2. “We were all alot better not knowing where our sausage came from” – I’ve heard that said many times. Just curious – with Youtube, Hallmark/Westland videos, arbittior and slaughterhouse in the daily news – Are the people who can’t square up to the killing of something lacking? Why can’t some (like myself) distinquish between my frisky dog and the cute pink pig or my fluffy cat and the brown eyed cow? An honest question: is there something amiss (or defective) in us? And the cure is????

    3. Back to the slaugherhouse (as I’ve conceeded the health & environment)…… Thousands of men work the kill floor – it has the highest turn-over rate in packing plants….. Also, the highest instances of suicide, divorce depression and alcholism – Will society ever reach a point where we will no longer ask (or offer) men to do such jobs? I don’t know, maybe an automated machine or something? They’re already gassing chickens – why not other animals?

    Just questions – like I said, NO intent to criticize….. After all, you guys are the beef people – right? Peace :)

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  34. Provoked, I don’t have time right now to answer your very thoughtful questions, but I promise to think about them, and hopefully post some of my thoughts here, or on my own blog, which I invite you to check out. (I wonder what you’d think about my current post, which is about omnivory.) Or, you know, maybe Mark will turn your quesitons into an Ask Mark post (hint, hint) that we can use as a jumping off point for further discussion.

    But I did want to come back and say a few things that have been turning over in my mind during my evening commute. First, you’re right; we do agree on many fundamentals. Second, I think you’re a good sport for coming into a group of apologetic meat eaters and asking questions and taking the answers seriously. Third, we’ve thrown a lot of information at you, and I hope it hasn’t overwhelmed you. The truth is, many of us have been reading widely on topics like nutrition, sustainability, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, diabetes, and so forth for many years, and here we are emptying our bookshelves on you over the course of a few days! Fourth, as self-assured as I act, sometimes I’m confused, too. Maybe Colin Campbell is right about cancer; it just happens that my more immediate concerns are obesity and diabetes, since they run in my family. Sometimes you just have to put the book down and eat, you know? (At least once a day, actually.) Today I have to make the best food decisions I can based on what I know today; tomorrow I’ll know more.

    And finally, I’m afraid I got the discussion off on the wrong foot with my comment about ignorance and vegans. Truthfully, I’m not usually that crabby. I don’t like oversimplifications and absolute statements, though, even on my non-crabby days. And yet I’m not precisely sorry for my comment, since I think the discussion has been interesting and thought-provoking.

    Oh, OK, I will attempt to answer one of your questions. Joel Salatin only slaughters chickens a few days a month, for the precise reasons you enumerate. He does it on his family farm with his adult son and a couple of apprentices. It’s nothing near like a full-time job, and it’s in the context of the social support of a family. The factory-slaughterhouse guys do it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with few if any other tasks to give them a reprieve, and then go home to families who know nothing about what their jobs are like and probably don’t really want to know. Seems like a big difference to me.

    Migraineur wrote on March 27th, 2008
  35. I wrote “I don’t have time …” and then launched into my typical 500 word comment. Heh. Someday I’ll shut up and, y’know, do the job I’m paid for. Which is not, sadly, commenting on MDA.

    Migraineur wrote on March 27th, 2008
  36. Migraineur…. you are a true gentleman – not too crabby at all – I did over simplify and generalize to the point of ignorance….. Well, at least I wasn’t “the other Vegan” who actually annoyed me too…..

    Okay – Ask Mark….. that’s a good idea.

    Sorry about the diabetes – I can understand how that of great concern and explains your knowledge of different foods. I’m very guilty of having taken so much of my excellent health for granted – It’s sickening in a way…… I’m a horse – never sick, ever (not even pre veg)- guess it will all come down on me at once. Now, that’s something to look forward….

    Your mention of Joel Salatin – and the understanding of my concerns…… I once heard a story – (might have been a biblical event) – Maybe dealing with sacrifice, or teaching how to mercifully kill an animal. There were two students – each with the slain animal….. The second boy asked “how did I do? It was just like the one before”….The teacher replied “yes, but it was without a tear”….. Sounds like Mr. Salatin does not take his task lightly – this is good.

    Thanks for explaining parts about this – I know when I think of the absolute horror – it’s always the large factory-slaughter houses – It’s so machine like and so removed from the value of life (however trite). I know that on a smaller scale (a small farm situation) it’s not taken so lightly. Another great reason to return to something more sustainable (and more sane).

    You’ve been very kind to answer – Thank you…… and have a wonderful evening.

    Provoked wrote on March 27th, 2008
  37. Glad to hear we are all back in discussion mode rather than debate mode.

    Good questions, Provoked. I’m not sure if we will meet the needs of everyone by the time that population peaks. We certainly don’t now and it’s not for lack of total food produced. The bigger question, I think, is if anyone will even be trying in an effective way. I think there will always be relief efforts, but that is like a bandage on a cut to the artery. I don’t seem enough of the “powers that be” working it now so it’s har dot imagine something will change radically to that end. I do see many individuals and small groups trying to work on solutions, but at the same lately it seems the “powers that be” are working overtime to squash many of those efforts. Again, Joel is illuminating on that. I could suggest other places of online discussion where small family farmers are being stomped on big-time by the state and federal gov’t, but I think I’ve done enough reading suggestions, nor do I want to send anyone away from Mark’s generous and informative blog.

    Just came back from my son’s guitar lesson and I see Migraineur has beat me to it on a few points (she and I seem to be like email twins sometimes – same places, similar views, at the same time).

    Gotta get to the dinner simmering on the stove, but I have the same concern about the folks who work in the high speed -high volume processing plants. I don’t butchering itself is necessarily nasty work, but the factory condition under which many of those employees work is brutal. Often they are low paid, not especially skilled, not fluent in English, and grossly taken advantage of. It’s like the book, The Jungle, all over again, just 100 years or so later. Sorry to throw another book out there.

    I’m working harder to make myself less of stranger to the production methods of my food so I can find ways to not support systems like that. I can see a point not to far ahead where I could participate more fully in the processing of an animal for my meat.

    I have a grinder. Sausage is no mystery in this house.

    So far, I’m skeptical of the ability of science to “grow our meat” for us. I guess I can sum it up with worries about the law of unintended consequences. It’s not that I don’t trust ever science – my husband is a research scientist – but the “science” behind that lab-created meat scheme isn’t very appealing to me at first blush. Perhaps I will learn enough to be pursuaded, though. But I kinda doubt it. It’s hard to truly improve on nature.

    Ok, now I really have to get back to dinner before my squash is cooked into squoosh (leftover pot roast cubed and simmering into Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup – sort of Thai style).

    Anna wrote on March 27th, 2008
  38. Migraineur…. I’m sorry – I will re-phrase: You are a true lady. Didn’t know “migraineur” sounded so masculine (but so does provoked huh?) – Anyway, online it’s impossible to tell the sexes apart – It should matter little, except that perhaps our life experiences are similiar as man or woman – but that’s another blog somewhere I’m sure…. “A true gentleman”…..sorry bout that!

    Provoked wrote on March 28th, 2008

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