In order to satisfy my overly loud and sometimes obnoxious food conscience, we have embarked on our next "phase" in better eating. As a conscientious eater, I have come to the 100% conclusion that the only way that our nation's (and increasingly so the world's) food situation is going to change is for we as consumers to change our demand.
Although humans are classified as omnivores, we in this country exhibit predominantly carnivorous leanings with brief forays into the plant world. Actually, if I want to state may case more precisely, we are a nation of cornivores. No, that was not a typo. The vast amount of "food" products in this country contain some type of corn product, soybean product, or both. This includes beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, any processed food, fast food, much of "finer dining" food....
The thing is, we don't need these foods to survive. We don't need to source our protein from meat, our calcium from milk, our fiber from cereal. All of the nutrients are body needs can be found in the plant world, in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts.
Now those of you who know me well are aware of my affinity for the pig and for cheese. I am not saying that we all need to become vegans or even vegetarians. I'm just saying this: change your focus. Don't eat meat at every meal. Don't put cheese on everything. Don't eat eggs every morning. Stop eating fast food; it tastes like crap anyway.
Now some of you are going to say to yourselves, "We are just too busy. Produce is too expensive. I don't know how to cook. We can't afford to eat this way."
Here are my solutions. Plan ahead. Reserve a few hours on Sunday afternoon or whenever and pre-chop, pre-prepare, and precook.
The money you are not spending on "meat" goes a long way in the bean and grain aisle. Trust me, you don't want to eat that meat anyway. And here's the thing too: by cutting down on the amount of meat and dairy you consume, you will have more money to buy the currently more expensive, local, sustainable, hormone/antibiotic -free steaks and chops you love.
Saying you don't know how to cook is a pretty crappy excuse. Go to Half-Price Books and purchase a cookbook. Better yet, I know if you are reading this that you have internet access. Use it. Go to sites like epicurious.com, seriouseats.com, etc. and download some recipes. Have a friend that knows their way around a kitchen come over and show you the ropes. You can even watch cooking tutorials on youtube. Seriously.
As for the affordability of changing your eating habits, I offer you these thoughts. How high is your deductible? How much is your copay? If you are diabetic, how expensive is your medicine? Do you know why broccoli seems to cost so much more than Cheetos? Because the stuff used to make Cheetos is subsidized by the federal government.
The average meal travels 1500 miles to get to your plate. What do you think the fuel and environmental costs of this journey are?
So what did I eat today? I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast with a slice of whole grain toast, and coffee roasted by my brother (thanks Denny) with a splash of milk from a local dairy. For lunch I had whole grain naan with chickpeas, greens, barbeque sauce, a little cheese, and caramelized onions. For dinner we are having homemade turkey and barley soup that I made when I had the time and froze. I am sitting here with a full belly and a satiated appetite. I don't feel unsatisfied because I ate no meat. Everything, in fact, was quite tasty.
Imagine how the food industry ( a term I hate because food by its nature should have nothing to do with industry) would be turned on its head if we all stopped eating fast food. If we all started buying a bunch of apples and potatoes and spinach. If we stopped buying Tyson chicken and bought from local farmers instead. ( I have a really great visual right now of Cargill/Mansanto/Nabisco/Perdue/Hormel execs. running up and down the supermarket aisles Home Alone style...."Where is everybody and why aren't they drinking Hi-C?" Awesome.)
What unprecedented change we could bring about with so little effort!
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