Saturday, November 30, 2013

Organic, hippy, non-GMO, vegetarian crap.

Mix Sweet Shop
16oz Soy Chai

Forgive me, guys, if I'm a little terse today.  I seem to have my grump on.  Perhaps it's the insane shopping weekend that's causing all the crazy traffic.  And on that note, might I just add: Blessed are the pedestrians who use the damn crosswalk.

So.  Part of my facebook spam around turkey day was a headline that factory farmed turkeys are crawling with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Yum!  For my part, I was expecting to go to a pot luck that never materialized so we ended up having lentils and mashed potatoes before (and after) our pumpkin pie.  So whether or not we were eating "conventional" or organic turkey meat was a non-issue.  But the awareness is moving me closer to the idea of just becoming a vegetarian.

I know my veggie friends are fist-pumping and shouting, "Yay!  Do it!" at their screens (which is probably making for some awkward social situations if you're in public).  And most of my non-veggie friends are going, "Wait - I thought you were a vegetarian?"  I certainly seem to give off that vibe.  It's my hippy roots showing. 

For the record, I do not believe there is something inherently immoral about an animal eating another animal.  I do, however, believe that knowingly causing any animal suffering - not just pain, but a deplorable, tortuous existence - is pretty sadistic.  And by eating conventional meat, I am, sadly, contributing to a sadistic system.  My only explanation is that we are (putting it mildly) short on the cash.  And I worry about all of us getting adequate protein.  I'm already taking an iron supplement, so the more I can get through diet, the better.

Then why not just get organic meat?  Well, we do when we can.  But the options are scarce and the prices are high.  No, dudes - really high.  Especially to feed a family of four.  And given that there are millions of vegetarians out there living long, healthy lives, I'm sure that it's entirely possible for me to figure it out.  Meat protein is just giving me an easy out for now.  I just need to get in touch with my inner sous chef and learn what the hell to do with those beans and lentils (I am not a well-domesticated animal).  Besides, an anti-inflammatory vegetarian diet would probably be best for my fibromyalgia (and all my other health conditions).

There's another argument for vegetarianism to be considered: climate change.  Producing livestock for human consumption generates more global warming pollutants than producing the equivalent vegetarian diet does.  So I hear.  And every once in a while I get reminded that climate change is neither a hoax nor an abstract idea and the only way for the individual to do anything about it is to commit to all the small changes it will require to lessen the damage.

But I'm not stopping at vegetarian - I want to get as close to completely organic as we can possibly afford.  It's not just about reducing the amount of known carcinogens we ingest anymore.  Now it's about avoiding all the hidden GMO ingredients that we can.

Now, don't start groaning at me about the GMO stuff...  People are trying to make it out like anti-GMO advocates are as irrational as birthers and as annoying as vegans (you know I love you guys). 

The problem with GMOs is what we don't know about them.  The FDA has not verified that they are safe.  The FDA - which is loaded with former GMO-company people, as a point of interest - just decided that genetically modified food would be classified as if it was generally considered to be safe.  That's literally like the category name for its designation.  And by what logic do they make that determination?  There has not been a pre-standing scientific consensus about bio-engineered food.  For one thing, the technology has only been around for so long. 

And not all GMOs are created equally.  I read a little article deriding the anti-GMO camp, saying that genetic modification is merely the technology being used to produce this food, and that it's like criticizing a farmer for using a tractor instead of an ox and plow.  That is a false analogy.  The result is the same for the farmer whichever method he uses - the soil is tilled (or whatever).  GMOs, on the other hand, are organisms that cannot exist in nature without laboratory intervention.  It is not the equivalent of a farmer cultivating a hybrid, or grafting an apple seed to a stick in order to produce the same kind of apple.  Genes of completely different species - animals - are mixed with these plants (or animals).  And by mixed, I mean that the cell wall has to be breached artificially (using, like, ebola and stuff) in order to get the alien genes through.  Nature cannot achieve that.

Genetically modified corn produces its own pesticide.  That ain't right, people.  Corn is a great example of a plant that has been modified by humans, using nature, over centuries.  But jumping to a completely new type of corn, with no historical presence of these properties - that is completely new territory.  And there is no way we could adequately assess the consequences of even a small change once it has been introduced into the environment in so short a time.  But our environment is being radically altered with the introduction of numerous crops - big ones, like corn and soy - that have been tweaked and skewed.  Some may may be benign, some may have only mildly adverse effects (like the increased gluten-sensitivity from hybridized wheat), and some could be catastrophic.

We just don't know.

We do know that more pesticide is being sprayed due to pesticide resistant seed (sold by the same company), and that is fouling our water supplies.  It also appears that one of the major factors in the declining bee populations is the overuse of certain pesticides.  It has also been suggested that GM crops do not produce more yield than natural crops, contradicting the "feeding world hunger" claim.

Okay, even I'm sick of this topic now.  Let's wrap it up.

I like to call myself a lapsed hippy.  I'd really like to be better about all the diet and environmental concerns.  I have just succumbed to the overwhelming stresses of poverty and children and all that jazz.  But it's never too late to try to be better.  And better safe than sick with an antibiotic-resistant illness.

1 comment:

  1. I was vegan for about a year and I think that's when I really learned how to be a cook. It took not only research, but an imagination to come up with some awesome creations - and I had people fooled, too. Unfortunately it's quite expensive to be a vegan, because in order to do it so it tastes good you have to purchase very good ingredients and that can get pricey. Also, I loooooove meat.

    Lately I've been tossing around the idea of becoming a pescetarian, because meat is expensive and now that I read a Yahoo article about HOW EVERY SINGLE CHICKEN IN CALIFORNIA IS POISONOUS (seriously I read once that you have to treat raw chicken like a fucking [sorry, Chandra's mom] poison until it's fully cooked, which is crazy, right?) I'm afraid to eat anything. I don't digest red meat well, beans trigger IBS (as does a lot of other things) and starch inflames my joints. It's like the only thing I can eat that doesn't make me feel like blowing my brains out the next day is salmon, spinach, and bananas.

    But then yeah - on the flip side we have apples covered in wax, e-coli infected spinach (and that was organic spinach, too, y'all), and what's with all the fruit tasting like nothing lately? Where's all the juicy freshness of the fruit from my youth? I haven't been able to find a good cantaloup in over ten years.

    Sometimes I think about going on a four day fast, drinking nothing but water and slowly introducing foods back into my diet - first broth, then some fruit and veggies, and slowly make my way back up to certain proteins. The first thing that gives me the runs or constipates me for days is never getting eaten again. Too bad I'm a food addict and am thinking about cheeseburgers and chocolate chip cookies right now. ;-)

    I believe in you, Chandra. Do it and let us know how it goes.