"Even if your steak came from rare breed raised on a diet of organic grains and was then finished on grass, it's still really bad for the environment to eat it."
Actually, it can be done in a non harmful way, albeit not as cheaply as beef raised in feedlots on government subsidized Monsanto corn. Pick up a book by Joel Salatin. He explains how it can be done, as he has been doing it on his farm for years. The problem is monoculture. Farms raise one thing, be it chicken or beef or corn or soy. Factory farms produce toxic waste - the sewage than runs out of these farms are loaded with antibiotic resistant bacteria. These animals are not being fed what their guts were evolved to eat. As a result, the animals are chronically sick and must be fed antibiotics due to their poor immune systems. Livestock in the US consume several times as much antibiotics and human, and virtually all of it is as feed additives, not to treat a specific illness. As a result, we have highly resistant strains of bacteria.
Salatin raises a number of species. The cows pastures are frequently rotated. Then a couple days after the cows leave a pasture, he brings in the chickens, who eat the bugs in the poops, and produce more high quality fertilizer. They make eggs that are much healthier than the so called free range eggs in the store (and taste a lot better too). He has numerous other examples in his books. I have seen his farm and how things work there. We have a small farm and use many of his methods and they work for us. Is it a cheap way to raise food? No, but we are improving the soil on our land not using up the nutrients, and the beef and chickens we raise are healthier (both alive and as our food) than anything on a factory farm. The animals are treated humanely too.
The toll of factory farming is adding up. They produce huge amounts of pollutants. Monoculture is ruining the soil of our heartland. I was raised in central Illinois, and the last time I was home, I could not believe how much lighter in color the soil was than when I lived there. This type of farming is not sustainable long term. Feedlots produce tons of pollution. On our farm, poop fom healthy cows is a good thing, not a pollutant.
Bottom line, yes, it is important to me and my family where our food comes from. In our case, as much as possible is from our own farm and from farmers that I know personally. Buying local is good for our community. It encourages sustainable farming techniques. If you know where to look, it does not need to be expensive. It generally tastes better. if you don't think it's important, visit a factory farm. You will change your mind.
Do I eat all local foods? No, I like citrus, and can't raise it in VA. After living in Panama for a while, I developed a fondness for lots of tropical fruits. But I would venture that we eat more sustainably produced food than the vast majority of the population, we don't spend crazy amounts of money on food, and I feel better about what I eat.
I guess you could guess how I would describe "honest food" although I think the term is pretty stupid. Honesty is not an attribute that objects can possess.
Edited by tikidoc, 28 February 2012 - 09:39 PM.