Thursday, May 21, 2009

Common ground in a den of vegetarians

Boyfriend and I are pretty much the consummate omnivores, but last night we found ourselves at a film screening sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, where I'm guessing at least half of the crowd was vegetarian.

I know. You're asking, "What on earth would prompt you to do such a thing?" While I have no beef with vegetarians (pun intended), HSUS is another story, infecting an oblivious meat-eating populace with its extreme-minority (0.5 percent of the population) vegan agenda through hyper-effective marketing and lobbying.

It gets even more weird.
Boyfriend, a political reporter who's well known as the Capitol's wild game chef extraordinaire, was invited to the screening by HSUS California lobbyist Jennifer Fearing.

So why did we go? Because the movie, FOOD, Inc., examines everything that's wrong with the food production system in America - mistreatment of animals, mistreatment of workers, mistreatment of farmers and a system that has somehow made it cheaper to eat stuff that's really, really bad for you.

Part of the reason I love hunting and eating wild game is because it helps remove me from that system, so it was a no-brainer to go watch the movie.

And besides, Boyfriend and Fearing get along decently. I'm guessing it has something to do with his food ethic - he cares where his food comes from, and how the animals we eat have been treated. She's publicly declared him to be among the least objectionable meat eaters she knows. (That link goes to a Sacramento Bee story about Boyfriend; Fearing is quoted at the end.)

So, how was the movie? Really good, but really depressing. It contains really upsetting footage of chickens bred to grow so fast that their bones can't keep up and they can't walk. Then there are the cows that can't walk to slaughter, so they're forklifted there. Then there are chicken farmers held hostage by chicken conglomerates that force them to employ more and more disgusting methods of animal husbandry to keep up America's supply of cheap (and bland, I must add), chicken.

If you're already immersed in this subject, you'll find this movie doesn't plow much new ground - it covers much the same territory as one of my favorite books, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Pollan is featured prominently in the movie. So is Joel Salatin, a star of Pollan's book and a Virginia farmer who raises animals the right way - pasture-fed, not pumped full of antibiotics and hormones.

The movie also really blasts Monsanto, which controls something like 90 percent of soybean seed in America, for crushing farmers through staggeringly expensive litigation.

(Actually, I just put that line in here to see how long it takes Monsanto's public relations army to email me or comment on this blog. Boyfriend mentioned Monsanto in a tweet about the movie last night and got a response from Monsanto first thing this morning. Can you say, "creepy"?)

Despite the fact that the material was familiar, though, this movie had an immediate effect on me.

When I read Pollan's book two years ago, I resolved to stop buying factory-farmed meat. Since then, our freezer and refrigerator has been stocked with wild game, pastured domestic animals and the occasional chicken from our neighbors' coop. I believe I have bought conventionally-farmed meat three times since reading that book: once for a barbecue for my students, and twice when I succumbed to rotisserie chicken at the grocery store when I wasn't feeling well.

But the reality is, I'm still eating a lot of factory-farmed meat because I eat out a lot. At work, I eat lunch from the fast-food joints in my building (we have an Indian place that makes great tandoori chicken). And when I'm on long roadtrips, lunch or dinner is almost always at Burger King or McDonald's.

I wasn't more than 15 minutes into the movie before I felt really ashamed of that, and I decided that even if I can't eradicate factory-farmed food from my diet, I can probably minimize it a lot more.

Some people eat fast food because it can actually be cheaper than eating healthy; with me, though, it's all a function of time. Making lunches to take to work or take on the road takes time, and that's something I don't have at all. But I'm going to have to make time, because if I don't, I'm still part of the problem.

And truth be told, I'll probably need to hunt a little more (or a little more effectively), because I do like meat in my lunches.

Now, of course, the reason the HSUS was involved in this screening was that this was a great opportunity to convince people to go vegetarian. Judging by the number of people cheering when Fearing got up on stage after the movie (she got more applause than the producer, famed Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters and even Martin Sheen), most of the audience was probably already vegetarian or vegan.

But each of the 200 seats in the theater had an HSUS "Guide to Vegetarian Eating."

And Fearing - who's really good at what she does - made a pitch for the vegetarian diet during the panel discussion after the movie.

She noted how uncomfortable the audience seemed to be when it was watching a segment in which chickens were being slaughtered on Joel Salatin's farm in Virginia - and remember that Salatin is one of the good guys in this movie. "That's as good as it gets," she said with a grimace.

If that bothered you, she said, you should consider a vegetarian diet. And I actually agree. If you can't face the fact that animals must die for us to eat meat, and that dying involves blood and, uh, death, then yes, you should stop sticking your head in the sand and pretending that meat is born on polystyrene trays.

But of course, Boyfriend and I weren't about to lay down our guns and go vegan. In fact, we got up and left in the middle of the panel discussion because it was getting late - it was almost 9 p.m. - and we hadn't had dinner.

As we were walking up the aisle, a member of the audience who had just gotten the mic asked everyone, "Doesn't this make you want to go vegetarian?"

The crowd roared its approval.

I offered my answer - a smile and a thumbs-down - as we walked out the door.

Then we made our way to one of our favorite restaurants, where we ordered porchetta.

Made from pastured pork.

Raised by a farmer we know.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


Phillip said...

After the past weekend, that must've seemed a pretty strange transition.

I've always been big on understanding the "enemy", and trying to find the lines where "enemy" becomes simply "other".

Vegans who have chosen that lifestyle because of their disgust with factory meat farming certainly fit the latter category, and I respect that choice. I sometimes wish I were strong enough to completely wean myself from the factory farm... but I falter at the steakhouse and occasional chicken or seafood dinner. Fast food lost its allure long ago, and I avoid it at every opportunity.

Anyway, great write-up.

Holly Heyser said...

Yes, it was very different. And not entirely comfortable, knowing that I was surrounded by people who would probably be revolted by what I was doing last weekend.

But I actually really enjoy immersing myself in "foreign" cultures because it keeps me on my toes, allows me to check whether my stereotypes are grounded in reality and tends to make me a bit more civil.

I think the single most dangerous trend in American discourse today is our tendency to isolate ourselves among like-minded people. It foments incivility, and it makes us very easy to manipulate (e.g., the legions of hunters who take the NRA's alerts about the dire threats to gun owners as gospel because they don't know anyone who would ever tell them differently).

All that said, Phillip, I'm really looking forward to going to see the "Pig Hunt" movie with you in a few weeks. I don't even know what to expect from that crowd, but I trust the atmosphere will be a little more light-hearted.

native said...

As Kathleen Marquardt wrote in her book which is titled: (Animal Scam) and had so opened my eyes Holly,
These people will relentlessly march on until human beings are a creature of the past.

Without cheap food, thousands of people will literally starve (is this why Arnie our gov. agreed to shut off the water to the farmers?).

Don't get me wrong because I agree, that something has to be done to help correct an industry which views living creatures as nothing more than an expendable commodity.
There is just something inherently wrong with that train of thought!

But, what are the solutions?

We all know that it is a proven scientific fact, that human beings cannot live a healthy and sustainable life on vegetable matter alone.

You have said it your self though, the demand for cheap meat is ever increasing due to the ever increasing population.
I for one do not want to see everyone taking to the wilderness and hunting for their meat, my goodness think of all the centuries long repercussions if that were to happen.

There must be a happy medium somewhere!

Holly Heyser said...

I don't believe Americans can continue to eat as much meat as we do and get it from sustainable-humane-organic-local producers.

But I think it's important to remember that probably most of the reason we eat this much meat is because it's been made available through this flawed system.

The movie's producers don't recommend going vegetarian, though they do recommend going meatless one day a week because of the good it can do for the environment. Hell, Hank and I frequently have meatless meals. We're not hostile to vegetables.

I think we can actually make huge progress reversing the damage caused by the last 50 years of food policy without giving up meat. I'd love to see more people raising backyard chickens - it would teach them a lot of respect for their food, and put better food on their tables. (And help keep bugs out of the garden!)

hodgeman said...

Very interesting. I've had Pollan's book on my "get list" for a few months now and I'm looking forward to it.

I've not seen the movie you mentioned but I have seen similar. The result is that my family has taken to eating meat raised locally on family farms in our community- (the yak is superb BTW).

One of the things I like about hunting, killing and eating animals is that it's about as intellectually honest as you can get with your food. Something really humanizing about eating something you killed with your own hand. I guess the vegan version would be raising your own vegetables but its not hardly the same to me.

Jennifer Fearing said...

Holly: Enjoyed this. Well-written and very interesting. Thanks for posting and for attending lastnight. I enjoy my regular chats with your Boyfriend and heartily agree with your concern about only conversing with like-minded folks. I learn so much more by being fully in the world and engaging with folks such as you and your Boyfriend.

One comment - Asking that animals raised for food be given basic humane treatment and urging a reduction in consumption for the sake of reducing animal cruelty, environmental degradation, and other ills would hardly satisfy those in my movement who advocate a "vegan agenda." I am fairly confident I said that this reduction isn't necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition.

Native: I haven't seen the "proven scientific fact" that humans can't subsist on a non-animal diet. To the contrary, I've seen a whole lot of studies showing just how healthy a plant-based diet in a whole host of ways.

In fact, it is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

The report goes on to discuss a variety of vegetarian health issues and further states:
“Vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.”

But I appreciate that we all agree that the livestock industry needs to do a whole lot better.

SimplyOutdoors said...

I can personally understand the need for better environments, and better structure for these animals, but the reality is such that we can't migrate away from meat.

And while I understand wanting to have these animals be treated a little better, completely going vegan isn't going to do that either. As Native said, we humans need meat. It's a fact of life.

I guess I'm very torn on this particular topic. I can appreciate wanting these raised animals to have better environments, but we need these particular places in order to have enough animals for meat to be affordable.

As always, though, Holly, it was very thought provoking.

Anonymous said...

I think there were a lot more omnivores in the audience than you guess. Many people will loudly applaud the Prop 2 victory and basic food reforms, but aren't vegetarian or vegan.

Albert A Rasch said...


That we, the United States of America, needed to feed the world for something like 30 years. That is a habit that will be very difficult to break.

Unless there is a paradigm shift in what we "value," sustainable agriculture and permaculture is still decades away. Mass produced protein and Monsanto are here to stay until there is a tragedy of one sort or another.

In the meantime we need to support those that can supply us with the most healthful foods, and do what you can to obtain the most healthful food possible.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
How to Support Animal Rights Groups. Not!

Holly Heyser said...

Jennifer - Thanks for coming by!

When I refer to the "vegan agenda," I'm referring broadly to the agenda that would end all hunting, animal husbandry and meat eating. Obviously, I've got a pony in that race (and obviously, as much as I respect and hate HSUS's lobbying and marketing prowess, HSUS has a long way to go to achieve this agenda). I'm totally with you about humane treatment of the animals we eat, and even reducing consumption to reduce our dependence on a system that is destructive to our environment and health. (And that's because I understand everyone can't have a backyard chicken, and everyone can't hunt - for lots of reasons.)

Anonymous - I'd applaud the Prop. 2 victory a lot more if the vote hadn't been perpetrated by a bunch of effin' hypocrites who couldn't be bothered to spend an extra buck on cage-free eggs, but they're happy to put an X on the ballot as if the farmers are causing the problem. But that wasn't your point; I'm sure you're right - there were plenty of food co-op and CSA folks there who eat meat. But every time someone said "vegetarian" or "vegan," there was a lot of cheering.

And Albert - I do believe we can reclaim older and more reasonable foodways. And this may sound mean, but I'm totally OK with it meaning food costs more. Probably 90 percent of the hunters in this audience spend a pretty penny to put venison, turkey, ducks and pigs in their freezers - we know the true cost of acquiring meat. Michael has livestock - he knows how much it costs to raise meat. Hank and I go to the farmer's market and drop major ducats there to get local and often organic produce.

The fact is, in historic terms, we spend an unnaturally low percentage of our income on food. Yay, right? Not necessarily. What has America done with all the money we've saved on food? Gameboys, Blackberries and iPods. I know I'm oversimplifying. But you can only tweak the natural balance of things so much. There's a reason for spending one-third of our income on food: It's sustenance. It's one of the three things, at our core, that we live for (food, sex and sleep ... or paying taxes ... or ... whatever).

This is why going to that movie last night was so interesting. I guess I have some pretty radical views on food policy. I'm guessing most of us in that theater would agree on these core issues. We just diverge on other core issues, like should we eat meat.

If anything, I just wish I could've had some conversations there about hunting and the role of wild game in a better diet. But this was about farming - not necessarily a night for my agenda.

native said...

Ms. Fearing,
My understanding of the continuing development of the human body, is that essential fatty acids, and nutrients which are especially crucial to a developing child are found through a variety of complex vitamins and minerals.

Thus, the human being would be considered more Omnivore that Predator.

The B complex vitamin group can be found in trace amounts through vegetables yes, but not in the amounts of which are needed for a developing child's nervous system and Brain to reach optimum mass.

The B complex vitamins are found in the amounts needed for a full, complete and well rounded diet only through meat.

The nutrients themselves cannot be synthesized except through a meat based product.
A vegetable based synthesized product oxidizes much too quickly and the result is that by the time that product makes it to market for consumption, it has lost more than half of its potential value as a viable food source.

So, as far as I can tell from the reading which I have done, and talking to individuals who know more about the subject than I.
My conclusions are that I will not make a decision to withhold meat from my developing children's diet just because of a personal decision which I might make for myself as an adult.

I am already grown, they still have a lot more growing to do.
And I would never forgive myself if I did not do all that I could, to start them upon the road of mental and physical health and well being with a proper and well balanced diet.

This diet will include: Poultry, Dairy,Vegetables, Fruits, grains and Meat!

Josh said...

Woo hoo! Great post, Holly.

I would like to point out that a vegetarian diet does not absolve anyone from the deaths of animals for their sustenance. Farmers serving vegans kill untold MILLIONS of animals through 'organic' pesticide measures, through changing wildlands to farmland, through harvest practices that mow down baby duckies and snakes and redwing blackbirds. The processing industry used to extract and magnify the nutrients most vegetarians can't seem to get on their own through whole foods (not always their fault, but true) require millions of gallons of fossil fuels... not to mention trucking these from the farms to the stores removes habitat for roads, and kills many animals through its high-speed transportation.

If you are uncomfortable with Mr. Salatin taking responsibility for his life, then you need to step up and realize your place in this world. You aren't a disembodied phantasm or angel, moving about and observing. You have mass, and effect, and your consciousness demands you understand that in a mature fashion.

What kills less: 100 acres given over to organic wheat, or 100 acres given over to grass-fed buffalo? The buffalo can live peacefully with myriad species, and the death of one buffalo to feed many is the result, with no subsequent removal of habitat. Wheat requires that all other species be removed, and its harvest has a huge effect on the landscape.

I won't give vegetarians the illusion that their lifestyle is deathless. Death is a fact of the Earth.

That said, I'm elated to read all these great responses from thoughtful people on the horrible nature of factory farming.

Holly Heyser said...

All great arguments, but I'm guessing none will pull any of us away from our chosen diets. And I'm totally fine with people going vegetarian or vegan for whatever reason - that's their choice. I just don't want my choice removed, nor do I want to be castigated for making my choice and carrying it out in the most ethical way possible.

I really do hope y'all go see the movie, though. As hunters, you will probably be surrounded by many people who don't do what you do, and some who downright hate what you do, but don't let that stop you - there's so much to learn from this movie. And quite honestly, I don't see how most non-hunters could see this movie and still come out condeming what we do. Only the people who are stuck in that naive Hollywood notion that we kill to sate bloodlust. But that's another issue. And maybe another post. Been chewing on that too...

Sarah said...

I agree with you Josh, in fact I was wondering how to say what you just said so eloquently. We are not absolved from our impacts on this earth, no matter what our dietary choices but I would add that unfortunately the only choice for people that were willing to take responsibility for their impact offered up by the mainstream until recently has been vegetarianism or veganism. Kids and adults who wanted to have a say in what they put into their bodies felt like they had to forgo meat entirely in order to be socially and environmentally conscious.

Thanks finally to books like the Omnivores Dilemma and blogs like this we're finally getting the message out that you can take care of the earth and your body in a way that is in harmony with nature without denying our ancestry, the family farmer and further back, the hunter gatherers. We’ve got a long way to go but it’s a journey worth taking and I’m glad to be on it with thoughtful people like the ones who read this blog.

Biomouse said...

Great post Norcal!

A friend pointed me to your blog as he and I both attended the screening of Food Inc as well as went to a lovely restaurant before the show that I believe was serving porchetta that night :) I am definitely in the omnivore category of attendants that night, though I was a vegetarian for a number of years and can easily recognize the strength of the HSUS.

I have made strong efforts over the years to eat sustainably, use a CSA for produce, buy most of my meat from the Co-Op in Sac, and avoid processed foods as much as possible. In the name of time saving measures, I have also bought MacDonalds on occasion, and let my consumption of factory-farmed meat continue when out to lunch. I think I'll have to start making lunches for work too.

My greatest challenge that night was not so much in the struggle I feel about being an omnivore (I am one of those people Jennifer suggested should consider vegetarianism because I hid my face from Joel's chicken prep), but in coming to terms with the some of the opinions of the people around me in general.

Throughout the movie, when there was a situation that required a human being to make a choice about how they ate dependent on finances, or when the amount of profit that a chicken farmer saw was negligible, I heard disdain and judgement-laden commentary from several sources. It bothered me to hear the very same people who denounce cruelty to animals show such a lack of empathy for another human being's plight.

I really enjoyed your posting here and plan to follow you more. It's great that Jennifer Fearing wrote as well, and though I'm not a hunter, I respect and appreciate so much the ideals of knowing what your food is and providing for yourself.

By the way, any news from Monsanto?

Biomouse said...

I realized I should probably clarify my statement a little. In no way do I link the people who had a running commentary going throughout the movie seated near me directly with vegetarians or the HSUS. The comments said gave me the impression that they found greater value in the animals, and greater importance in the idea of eliminating all factory-farming methods in this country, rather than understanding why this is a complicated issue for many that requires difficult choices.

Valuing animal rights, food safety, the care of employed labor, and working to help stop destructive environmental impacts from large scale food production are all honorable goals in my opinion. Education, awareness of the problems, and offering reasonable and simple ways to help are how you change public perception. Food Inc is a great movie that can reach out to people who haven't read Pollan's books, and create a lasting affect.

My point in all this was to simply say it's disheartening to hear people be callous and believe that their fight for change requires that they devalue those whom (they believe) stand in their way. Including an average family who has to choose between eating non-processed, local, organic food or affording a father's medication.

sportingdays said...

I really am fascinated by this food discussion -- also from a policy and economics standpoint and the impacts on rural America.

I really love rural America and love the fact that hunting and fishing take me to rural and wild places I might not otherwise visit in my day-to-day life.

Corporate farming and cheap food production have devastated rural America, killed small towns, family farms, driven most of the U.S. population to live in cities -- to the benefit of a huge, corporate, agribusiness farms.

As was mentioned above, small farms mostly have to mimic these corporate ways just to compete and exist. I hold out some small hope that a revolution in consumer diets and behavior could make these small farms and rural communities viable once again, perhaps return some economic hope and growth to rural America.

Holly Heyser said...

Ecobatt, I have not heard from Monsanto, and I'm feeling quite hurt about that. Perhaps I should throw out some more chum? Like here's what vegetarians need to take from that movie: 90 percent of soy seed is controlled by Monsanto, which has patented a life form and sues the pants off of pretty much any farmer who tries to save his own seed for replanting. If I were a veg, that movie would have me asking myself, how can I purge Monsanto-dominated soy from my diet?

And I hear you on the smugness you were hearing out there. I'm willing to bet most people at that screening don't have to make really hard choices about their food dollars. Lord knows, I haven't had to since I was 23, and I hope I never have to go back to that - it sucked. The question, then, is what can we do to help folks with limited funds make the better food choices?

Reality is you can feed yourself well pretty cheaply if you know how to cook, which hardly anyone does anymore. We need to teach people how to cook, how to garden, how to raise chickens for eggs or meat - all ways to get by without spending a fortune.

When I was a kid growing up in the San Joaquin Valley, my family was dirt poor. We weren't on public assistance (because proud Republicans - which is what my folks were back then - don't do that). But I'll put it this way: On the free and reduced lunch program, I always got the free lunch.

And while we couldn't afford the latest designer jeans at the mall (Chemin de Fer, anyone?), we ate very well because we grew stuff and raised animals, and Mom spent summers canning and preserving. Mostly a lost art these days.

The problem I see now is that it's the kind of people in this discussion here - educated, middle class-to-affluent - who are trying to reclaim that ground. That's great, but we're not even the ones who need it most.

Man, great discussion, though. This is why I love you guys!

Josh said...

Or ducks. Folks can raise ducks. We have three, and they are a riot. I'll tell you if they start laying with any regularity (hoping around September).

native said...

Well said Josh on your post here at: #11.
I have been waiting for you to explain the (animals killed to put vegetables on your table) theory.

Sure makes perfect sense now that I see it in print!

lralph said...

I believe there is another aspect to this argument that hasn't even been addressed. I hear everyone complaining about these meat farmers and the cruelty to animals. I too agree that the policies should be changed to provide better environments for these animals; but WHY do you think these farmers have to produce so much meat.

I grew up in Haiti where the questions and arguments they deal with are not how they treat their animals or whether or not they should eat meat; but where their meal (meat or vegetable) is going to come from that week, not that day.

Do you know how many millions of pounds of pork, poultry, beef is tossed in the trash every night by delis, buffets, grocery stores, & food chains. When my wife and I were younger, she worked at the deli at a local, small town, grocery deli where she would toss 10 to 15 COOKED chickens in the trash every night at closing. I would get so pissed off every night she came home and told me how much food she would throw away when there was a homeless shelter 1 mile down the road that the "board of health" wouldn't allow that food to be given to them. You multiply that times every grocery chain in America, and that's just one example. We are a gluttonous, disgusting, wasteful society. We MUST reduce the waste.

I know that I have a different perspective on the argument because of my experiences in a third world country. If Americans grew up watching some of their friends starve to death, we wouldn't even have this discussion. I know that this wasn't the premise of the discussion, but I believe it is very relevant to it.

Holly Heyser said...

Lralph, that's all VERY relevant - thanks for chiming in!

That waste also drives me crazy. I, too, used to toss meat without a thought - usually meat I'd defrosted and not gotten around to cooking. It was hunting, not poverty, that cured me of that.

Imagine how much environmental damage and worker and animal abuse we'd stop if we just cut off demand for all the meat that gets thrown away? Not just the abuse inherent in factory farming, but the criminal waste of a life.

Thanks for adding your perspective.

Ken and Joanne said...

Hi Holly,

This is a really interesting chain. One thing hasn't been brought up with respect to beef. Cows are a protein reducing machine. They take 12 pounds of plant protein and produce one pound of animal protein. Rabbits, however, convert on a one to one ratio. Now this is just something that I read years ago from someone promoting the rabbit industry. But if you're willing to grow chickens or ducks in your back yard, why not rabbits. They're quiet, reproduce quickly (two or three hutches would keep a family in meat for a year) and underneath the hutches are great places for worm farms. A ton of worms produces a ton of new soil every year, and that new soil is great for growing other plants. They in turn can enrich the rest of your organically grown garden.

An organic garden, by the way, is a great way to reconnect with the universe.


Holly Heyser said...

Rabbits are certainly a good backyard option, though personally, I'd rather have chickens.

Why? I think chicken (real chicken, not this Tyson crap) tastes better than rabbit. And I really don't like rabbit hutches - the wire is hard on the rabbits' feet.

But yes, rabbit is excellent. If I could figure out a way to free-range them without wrecking Hank's garden, and keeping them relatively easy to catch so I wouldn't have to resort to shooting them with an air rifle, I'd do it.

Josh said...

Free range grey squirrels. I've got a 65 foot walnut in my back yard, and I'm seriously considering depredation, as well as putting up some tree venison.

vicky the vet said...

As always, interesting stuff from 'across the pond'. Thank god even our intensively reared meat in the UK fares better than some US meat- no growth hormones or even anibiotic growth promoters allowed here anymore. I try and eat ethical meat- tricky as you say, especially when you eat out- but being made easier by supermarkets such as the co-op avoiding battery eggs and intensive chicken in heir own brand products. I wonder if veggies think so ethically? Do they consider where their soya is grown? If virgin rainforest has been removed to grow it? How green is Quorn? Industrially grown micromushroom anyone? Does it use lots of artificial heat and light? Give me grass fed lamb and beef, hunted rabbit and venison and very free range (if initialy reared) pheasan anyday.

gary said...

Boys, your social network takes a wider circle then mine does. To sit with that group I would need a couple extra applications of cover scent. Course here in Idaho I'd have a tougher time to find that sort of situation.

Give me a stump in the middle of the woods to perch on in the rain - it would fit my liking better. Good thing we're (you're) not all like that.

native said...

It is a matter of "survival" here in California Gary!

We must begin to know our enemy intimately because they have infiltrated every aspect of our lives.

Even the Department Of Fish And Game here has animal activists and vegans, working within that organization as well.

Rob said...

I'm gettin' hungry!

(sniff, sniff) Is someone frying baloney?

Holly Heyser said...

I'm a bacon-loving girl myself, Rob. (And of course, that's the one thing it's almost impossible to make from a wild pig - just too lean.)

But if I ever finish this infernal grading, I will post a recipe showing what I did with that pork shoulder I brought home from my public TV hunt with Phillip (and Native)... Yummy stuff!

Jennifer said...

All: I just want to say thank you for such an engaging and thoughtful discussion here. So many times and in so many forums (especially Twitter, I'm learning), there is a tendency to resort to knee-jerk stereotypes, repeating of old lies and falsehoods, and oversimplified and unnuanced caricatures, rather than having an honest discussion or even debate. I appreciate, Holly, that your blog clearly attracts a different audience (thanks to your tone and leadership) and I will happily engage here again in the future.

Holly Heyser said...

Even Twitter? I would find it hard to be that nasty in 140 characters. I prefer a more verbose approach when I go on the attack - nuance is everything! :-)

Thanks again from stopping by. I think our other resident non-meat eater, Hutchinson, will be delighted to find your company here, as soon as he returns from his latest (non-lethal) wildlife excursion.

Jennifer said...

BTW, we just posted a web story about last week's event. And I'm working on a blog post about the film for another site. Will let you know when it goes up.

Holly Heyser said...

Yeah, I saw that this morning. I liked your quotes at the end. I really have no problem with reducing meat consumption - that in and of itself doesn't threaten my way of life one bit.

Truth be told, that movie makes me fear for the farmers' way of life. Sounds like it's already mostly controlled by corporations - I hope the farmers can reclaim control. Such a sad thing for people who truly love working with the land to be reduced to corporate lackeys.

And can I just say MONSANTO MONSANTO MONSANTO? I still haven't heard from them. I'm feeling hurt.

Blessed said...

I'm playing catch up... anyway Holly you said this early in the discussion in the comments:

"I think the single most dangerous trend in American discourse today is our tendency to isolate ourselves among like-minded people. It foments incivility, and it makes us very easy to manipulate..."

and I just want to say that I completely agree. Some of my like-minded friends get a little irritated at me when I shake up their arguments a bit by playing Devil's advocate but it's important to me to have friends who don't necessarily see eye-to-eye with me on everything and it is also important to me to take the time to seriously consider those arguments and opinions that are different from my own.

ntsc said...

When I was a boy growing up in Northern Illinois, the farms classmates would speak of were about 160 acres, a quarter section. A few were as big as a section and a few as small as 40 plus wood lot.

A typical field was fenced and about 40 acres.

Earlier this month I had occasion to cross Illinois on I-80, south of where I was raised. The fields now strech un-fenced from road to road - three miles was not uncommon. I have no idea how far back from the road the next fence was.

You start the harvester someplace in Canada in late summer and work south, pretty much unbroken. Almost no sign of cattle.

I eat meat, I don't see myself ever stopping (my blog is titled The Art of The Pig). I would like to eat less factory meat, but I can't afford slow food on a regular basis, although most of our pork, some sausage excepted, is now slow food. We have to drive 3 hours one way to buy it.

Legally I could have five chicken or ducks, but I also have a resident cyotoe (he and the cats have a well armed truce). My wife won't eat Thumper, although she has no problems with Bambi, but I can't hunt or trap on my property. If I could I would never need to buy red meat again, I've seen 20 deer in the front yard at once.

As to the argument that people need meat however, I've any number of Hindi friends who would dispute that. I do know that it can be difficult, especially for a pregnant woman, to eat properly but it can be done.

Holly Heyser said...

Blessed, the interesting thing about that tendency I mentioned is that there are organized groups (both liberal and conservative) that have a vested interest in keeping us narrow minded. It ensures we look at anyone who thinks otherwise as the "enemy," which helps those organizations keep their grassroots army (us) in line.

NTSC, here's my thought on our dietary choices: I believe we are what we are (a successful species) in part because of a protein-rich diet; therefore, the most natural thing for us to to do is include meat in our diet.

But I understand humans can eat vegetarian successfully, so I don't think we have to eat meat.

I think the vegan diet is most unnatural, but people obviously make it work. So, to each his own - to a point. My limited reading on this subject suggests that vegan diets are bad for small children - and I've met vegans who understand their kids may need some milk and cheese to make it to adulthood.

Why is my reading on this limited? Because I'm just not interested in debating whether veganism (or vegetarianism), as a dietery choice, is "right" or "good." I don't care. My only quarrel with some vegans is a political agenda that, given the opportunity, would force the same diet on me.

native said...

Well said Holly!
Nuff' said bout' that!

As I have seen in raising Dog's, Deer, Sheep, HOG's and all manner of other critter (including my own children) the protein crave while in their developmental stages is readily apparent in all young things.

Simply walk around a well fed baby critter with a stalk of celery in your hand and happily munching it.
The response from a youngun' is lukewarm at best.

Next, within the same few minutes, walk back around that same baby critter with an aromatic piece of meat in your hand, and watch the frenzied reaction begin as soon as the scent wafts down to their little noses.

Their body is telling them to "Get That Protein"!

Just another simple observation from a poor ol' dumb country boy. L.O.L.!