Meat Me Halfway

 Probably the worst pun yet. Sorry.

I happened upon an article on, a commentary, by celebrated novelist Johnathan Safran Foer (and by “celebrated” here I mean “The critics think he is a genius and I have never read any of  his  books.”) It was related to his new non-fiction work  Eating Animalsbook 

The article and the book are all about the many problems that come from factory farming of meat– factory farming being,  as wikipedia puts it : “….the practice of raising farm animals in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses.” 

I read a little of this article, though, not much, and I thought, hm, this sounds like a topic for Food Month. Add it to the list of angles I need to look. Everything leads to something else….

So, then, weirdly, I found an article by Natalie Portman on The Huffington Post saying how this same book made her a vegan, and I thought “Oh, I can post  both these links, make an entry of it.”  And THEN I realized: link bonanza!-  The Huffington Post  in fact has a whole little Eating Animals sub-section with articles like this one  by celeb alternative doc Andrew Weil.  Both articles  were a little intense for my taste, but they made some points. 

Princess_Amidala“I sense the vegan force is strong in this one…”

 Unfortunately, along with these articles, I read the comments after them. And that’s where I got a little sidetracked. There were over a thousand responses related to Natalie Portman’s article alone. I mean, I know the HuffPost is that kind of site, but wow. (And comparing the passion on animals to the reaction to Half TheSky, a little disheartneing.) But I read some comments to see what the thoughts were out there. I quickly came across a lot from strident animal rights activists ( anti-carnivores, let’s call them)  with really self-righteous, extreme, animals-are-the-same-as-people,  hyperbolic reactions and condemnations.  I could feel myself slowly getting irritated – even when I agreed with some of the underlying points.  It was to the stage I was about  to get a username and break out the “There are 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa, what are you doing about that, grass-eater.”  Or  “Oh, yeah, pal, well, let me tell you a little about the slave labor that went into getting the cocoa for that candy bar…” 

As if I know. And as if I weren’t eating a brownie at the time (and if I wasn’t, I am now.)  …Sometimes the positive, proactive, sharing and learning, drop in the bucket attitude I try for here and in life can get hijacked by my easily annoyed, know it all-y, judgemental, ranting, time-wasting side. I’m working on it…

So anyhow, I regrouped and left the message board behind:


And here comes What I Realized.

What I realized is there are some very legitmate concerns worth looking into about factory farming. For further brief description of these anti-factory farm arguments,  I really recommend this video cartoon  called “The Meatrix” (lol) which – while admittedly biased – is really funny and makes the anti-f.f. point pretty concisely. And I’m all about concision (as you can see from the fact this entry is going two pages…)



Like you probably have, I’d heard about this factory farm thing on TV and in the news – and thought it sounded pretty inhumane. Kind of like puppy mills. I mean, for those familar with the dairy bars of the greater Foxboro area, we ain’t talking Crescent Ridge here…(you know they don’t really get their milk from those cows?)


What I’m learning is, there are more problems involved than the treatment of the animals…

For one thing, it’s hurting the environment. Read this, it was pretty concise as well as chock full of information. And from a boring UN group, so not someone with an ax to grind  (…and if you can figure out what silviopastoral means PLEASE let me know…).  The land is being ruined, the waste is causing greenhouse problems- it’s a cavalcade of pretty bad stuff. Or is it a “cattle-cade’? (Title pun was still worse…).  And when the environment is messed up, the poor are usually the ones who bear the brunt of it. I don’t know how prevelant factory farming is outside the west, but, over-reliance on livestock seems to be a global issue.

For another thing, factory farming could be making us sick. One assertion of Eating Animals, this book (which I guaruntee you I will never read) , is that diseases – like say, swine flu, are on the rise because of factor farming.  In general, this argument seem to focus on the use or overuse of anti-biotics on animals and I guess also the close quarters of the animals – and that these factors are causing human health problems too. 

If  you want more info on that – check this page  from Frontline which has many links to both sides of the story.  Usually, I’m one of those people who’d rather not know what’s in my food, leave that to the FDA, but, I think maybe it’s time we start knowing. When the meat industry uses the old “there’s no conclusive evidence” line to defend its position, it could be time to start looking into it.

And yeah, there’s the argument that factory farming puts more food on more tables for a cheaper price. But for one thing- check this survey out where people (in Ohio) said they’d be okay paying more for less cruelly come by meat.  Granted, this may have been pre-recesssion.  I dislike when companies say they’re doing something for us when in fact, heh, well, you know who they’re doing it for.


And there’s also the point that red meat and processed meats aren’t too healthy.  I mean, mass production methods also make Tostitos more available but is that a good thing for our health and/or my butt?

I think we all know about moderation, preparation, portion control, and maybe that is the key with meat. But I was thinking about something since my dad’s been on this heart healthy diet. Shouldn’t we all (at least try to) be on a heart healthy diet?  Prevention? And as heart-healthy goes, my dad is allowed beef once a week. I’m just saying.

And the junk meat category, as I call it, the stuff I eat, processed cold cuts and hot dogs and pepperoni (and see below post re:  Happy Meal…) And yeah, again, “all things in moderation.” But I read about nitrites  a few months ago, and that has really been making me think twice. Sorry, Ben Jackson, but bologna has a third name- it’s  “potentially carcinogenic.” 

This hasn’t really changed my eating habits. But it’s made me think about it….and maybe cheap, plentiful unhealthy stuff isn’t a plus.

And getting back to the cruelty issue- I guess it’s hypocritical to eat meat then complain about how it gets to you, but, we put people in jail for having their dogs fight; we arrest people for keeping 200 cats in their trailer homes and not taking care of them; society has cetain standards about how we treat animals. Even turtles (uh-oh…)  Put another way, I  quote the title character in the unpoignant, non-award winning short play “The Pig Farmer” wherein he says “There’s a way of life animals and people have together…and this is different.” (That’s taken out of context and wasn’t about factory farming, but still…)

In short, I like my turkey bacon, but  I don’t think livestock should be penned up, shot up, and maltreated. With some exceptions..


I also wanted to share two pieces I like from the blog world related to this subject of animal-killing/eating.

One comes from an NYTIMES writer named Mark Bittman  and it’s about this issue of  “to eat meat or not to eat meat.” (Warning: the comment section includes some ranters!). He makes the point that telling someone to stop eating meat for the environment is really like telling them to stop driving a car for the environment. It’s more an issue of cutting back, responsible use.

The other comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Dan Butler.   He and his partner raise chickens on their small farm in Vermont. This entry is about the mixed feelings he has about sending off for  slaughtering or “processing’  some chickens they’ve personally raised (and named…yeah, that can’t be helpful…). And  it includes the philosophical resolution he comes to about it.   It just occurred to me Dan Butler was in that famous animal killing movie Silence of the Lambs. Remember the parody Silence of the Hams?  Want me to post Shari Lewis again?


Anyhow, so, that was  long entry to just get to the point that I’m against factory farming at this stage and need to figure out what to do about that and I’m going to start cutting back on my own meat consumption. Maybe you will too. That’s your call.

 You know who probably won’t cut down on meat?  THIS guy ( and dont play this in front of your kids….).

Anyhow, that’s all. Thanks for sticking withthis one, kinda long.

And now here it is folks, your moment of twin:

059RyGuy058Jakers (phone pics by grandpa)


2 thoughts on “Meat Me Halfway

  1. FYI – I just read that they are now killing dairy cows b/c the cost of milk is so low. Okay well I really only read the title and not the article, but you may want to explore that too.

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