Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hey, Chelsea Green, adjectives matter

Chelsea Green - in general one of my favorite sites - is running a campaign right now that is making me crazy. "Meatless in May." The premise being that meat production is responsible for huge greenhouse gas emissions and we should recognize that.

But when you dig a little deeper into the website, you find out that they're talking about something else. Here's what they say: "When one takes into account the chemicals, the grain, the fossil fuels, the medications, the shipping, the storage, the packaging, and the medical aftermath associated with eating a diet full of corn-fed, industrialized meats..."

In other words, the villain here isn't red meat, it's industrially produced red meat.

If I sound defensive here, it's because I am. I am, after all, a card-carrying member of the Park Slope Food Coop, home to an astonishing number of New York's vegetarians, vegans, raw vegans, and heaven only knows what else. (I once overheard a food coop shopper telling a friend about all the foods she had given up and complaining that she still didn't feel any better. It was a long, long list, and I felt like suggesting that maybe she should try eating....)

A few years back, the Coop decided, after a considerable battle, to start selling local, grass-fed, humanely raised meat. During the debate, I was astonished at how many of the anti-meat-selling contingent seemed to have drawn all their ammunition from the entirely valid arguments against industrially raised meat, and didn't even seem to have noticed that was not what the coop was proposing to sell.

If you believe that it is morally wrong to kill animals for food, then of course you won't eat meat - in May or any other month. But if you simply want to raise consciousness about the dreadful environmental effects of industrial meat production, why don't you at least point out that there are other kinds of meat available? From animals that spend their lives as nature intended, eating the grass they were created to eat, treated with love and respect? And that the people who raise them struggle against considerable odds, and need all the help they can get from environmentally conscious consumers?

If, instead of giving up meat in May, Chelsea Green's readers were to buy only locally raised, grass-fed meat, they'd not only be doing the environment a favor. They'd also be doing the local farm economy a favor, helping their communities become more self-sustaining, helping to preserve open land and a varied landscape...the benefits go on and on.

Not all meat is the same. Adjectives matter.

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Blogger martin said...

Very good point well made Ann. Thanks for saying this.

May 3, 2009 at 10:43 AM  

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