Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carnivores, Omnivores, and Herbivores, Oh My!

As if my teammates didn't have enough things to "argue" about! Most items on our group email list need to stay private, lest wives, parents, and children find out how incredibly immature we really are... but one recent topic of discussion deserves some publicity. It seems that our ranks include a few strict vegetarians at one end, and some die-hard meat eaters (and meat hunters!) at the other. (We even have the ex-owner of the best Steak restaurant that ever existed in Goleta--oh how I miss Jaspers.) The meat-eaters question the manhood of the veges, and the veges wish the meat-eaters enjoyment in consuming their fecal-encrusted chicken nuggets. Ahhh, love the team chemistry! Actually, everyone truly does respect the other guy's choices and it's really all in fun.

But if you'll allow me to get serious for a minute, and veer off in a related direction... Isn't it true that as a species, we have evolved eating meat? I assume that our incisors are evidence of that. Yet still, people become vegetarians, and certainly they have a wide variety of reasons. Some are disgusted by the inhumane conditions with which livestock are raised and slaughtered. Others are justifiably concerned about all the chemicals that are used to quicken the animals' growth and artificially enlarge them. Some just want to eat "lower on the food chain" and avoid the accumulation of environmental poisons that inevitably build up in the tissue of animals higher on the food chain. These are all valid concerns.

But there is another way, which addresses at least some of these problems.

Eat Local and support your Local Agriculture. The benefits are huge. You keep money in the local economy; you support sustainable farming practices; you discourage the pollution resulting from transporting food thousands of miles; you encourage the growing of a large genetic variety of crops; on and on.

And most importantly, you reestablish a more visceral connection to your food. What you eat comes from the dirt. It shouldn't come from Von's wrapped in plastic and pumped full of preservatives.

Now I must admit that my family and I do not 100% practice what I'm spewing forth here. But we are working toward it. Most of our fruit and veggies are either organic, locally grown, or come directly from our backyard. I have a goal someday to personally grow almost all of the produce we consume.

Well, thanks for the opportunity to rant. I'll close with something I find very satisfying and refreshing--you can ride your bike all around Goleta and see local farms. So of course I take pictures. Most of these places use sustainable farming practices, and you can buy their produce at local fruit stands and farmers markets. Remember, Eat Local!!


Jason said...

I agree that our development as a species is partially due to our omnivore diet. Our current stage of development is also due to a whole series of other past living practices that we no longer participate in. I believe that just as we are happy to rely on automotive transportation to enable us to not have to walk several mile a day, we can also rely on nutritional technology to improve our health and to lessen the impact that raising of animals for meat production has on the planet.

Marco Fanelli said...

Right on Jason! No argument from me. Industrial-style "production" of food animals has a devastating impact on our planet and ourselves. Yet surely you'll agree that the problems are not just limited to that aspect of agriculture. If a vegetarian continues to consume exotic fruits and vegatables grown halfway around the world and treated with all manner of poisonous chemicals, then is he/she really helping solve the problems? I suppose it's a step in the right direction, but someone who eats locally grown and sustainably raised food is helping more.

druber said...

Viva la Farmer's Markets! My parents were both raised on farms and actually tried farming themselves until I was 2yrs old. All but 3 of my 9 aunts and uncles were farmers (corn, soybeans and hogs). Today only 1 cousin of mine is left on the farm - the rest sold out in the 90's during the farm crisis. I'd much rather buy my food from the farmer than the Supermarket. I draw the line at my wine though, I will continue to drink Italian wine and incur the guilt and shame of having it shipped half-way around the world.
Well Mark, now you know who your audience is: Vegetarians. Please start posting delicious vegetarian cassarole recipes.

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks Druber. Yeah!! Vegetarians read my blog! But I ain't picky--I'm never sure if anybody reads it! To my knowledge, that carnivore Boelter has never stopped by for a look-see... and to think of all the $$ I spent at Jaspers!

I'll see what I can do about the casserole recipes.

TnA said...

Just because I'm an Omnivore, it doesn't mean I don't agree with your "eat local as much as possible" stance.

Oh yeah, Boelter eats VERY local. He's most likely the only one of us who keeps live chickens in his back yard!

Marco Fanelli said...

> Just because I'm an Omnivore...

as am I

> doesn't mean I don't agree with your
> "eat local as much as possible"

Great! As time goes on, let's hope more people understand the benefits. The average piece of produce we Americans buy has traveled 1,500 miles to reach the store. That's just crazy.

> He's most likely the only one of us
> who keeps live chickens in his back yard!

I know... and I'm jealous. Not only do those eggs taste better, they are better for you too. And his chickens have a decent life, unlike the ones that produce most eggs sold in the grocery store.

Jason said...

Without a doubt it's best to support local farmers. My family does so whenever possible. If I could afford more than a postage stamp sized piece of land we would be growing more of our own stuff as well. As for meat, it's not that I don't think we should eat animals. It's just that given the choice of two healthy (endless debate here) diets, I would choose the one that didn't require me to kill an animal. If I am not willing to raise and butcher an animal, then I have no right to eat meat. Just the way I look at it.