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mattwb

The search for good meat in America

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Are we exporting our factory farmed chickens and pork? How many of these hungry citizens are feeding? How much does it cost to clean up the toxic waste? Who is paying for that? Just curious!

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Well, in a more ideal society, there would be more money for everything. Organic meat is expensive because that's what meat should cost. If wages were increased, we could all buy the organic products.

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Are we exporting our factory farmed chickens and pork? How many of these hungry citizens are feeding? How much does it cost to clean up the toxic waste? Who is paying for that? Just curious!

No most of our aid is corn, rice, wheat etc. I beleive very soon most of the sewage from our feed lots will be used to make fuel.

What do you propose as a solution? Is it eat less & pay more? That works for the well off what about the single mother trying to make ends meet? What about the family whose breadwinner is on disability (that means he is getting less that 60% of his usually wages)? Don't you care about the poor?

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Well, in a more ideal society, there would be more money for everything. Organic meat is expensive because that's what meat should cost. If wages were increased, we could all buy the organic products.

I agree.

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ETA: "Its easier not to think"

It's also easier to not to think analytically.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

It's certainly not comfortable to think about, but no one seems to have any answers to the economic and infrastructural problem. Besides, what conversation are we going to have about this if we don't think about these things? I've had enough of patting myself on the back or arguing at the wall with a group of like-minded individuals. If you don't think about these problems, you're not going to get a solution and those who don't care about what damage they're causing will continue to cause it. And when you go to those who don't care about these issues and tell them you want radical change, they will confront you with an objection such as JimH's, you'll have no answer, and they will have won.

Well, in a more ideal society, there would be more money for everything. Organic meat is expensive because that's what meat should cost. If wages were increased, we could all buy the organic products.

Indeed.

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And when you go to those who don't care about these issues and tell them you want radical change, they will confront you with an objection such as JimH's, you'll have no answer, and they will have won.

There are so many non sequitors and red herrings, I don't know where to start.

But we've been down this road before and there's no winning so I'm not biting except to say I work in ag and I deal with a lot of farmers/growers/corporations and it's not a question of organic versus non-sustainable. It's gross profits versus obscenely gross profits.

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And when you go to those who don't care about these issues and tell them you want radical change, they will confront you with an objection such as JimH's, you'll have no answer, and they will have won.

There are so many non sequitors and red herrings, I don't know where to start.

But we've been down this road before and there's no winning so I'm not biting except to say I work in ag and I deal with a lot of farmers/growers/corporations and it's not a question of organic versus non-sustainable. It's gross profits versus obscenely gross profits.

I'm not sure I see the non sequiturs but again, on the whole, I agree with you. Also, I love your beans. But I'm talking about getting through to people that don't want to hear what you're saying. I'm not saying you're wrong; I agree with you. Like I said above, I'm just tired of self-congratulatory arguments that fail to extend beyond a circle of those who already agree (of which I'm one-just making sure to repeat that again just in case).

Edited to change an "and" to a "but" and to add "on the whole" for clarity.


Edited by saucée (log)

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And when you go to those who don't care about these issues and tell them you want radical change, they will confront you with an objection such as JimH's, you'll have no answer, and they will have won.

There are so many non sequitors and red herrings, I don't know where to start.

But we've been down this road before and there's no winning so I'm not biting except to say I work in ag and I deal with a lot of farmers/growers/corporations and it's not a question of organic versus non-sustainable. It's gross profits versus obscenely gross profits.

Again, thank you for moving this conversation forward. As I said in response to JimH earlier, it's easier not to think. It's easier to tell me I don't care about the poor. If I didn't care I'd just stand by, let them continue poisoning themselves while my butler serves my organic asparagus along with my Wagyu Beef.

It's easier to say that my ideas are radical than to wonder how the CEO of Tyson made $24.6m in 2007 by selling crappy chicken to poor people. If I was to tell you that there are people who sell products to marginalized, uneducated poor people that they crave but which make them sick and wreck communities whilst racking up personal fortunes and flouting laws you'd think I was describing a cocaine-baron. Not chicken farmers.

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I teach cooking classes to poor people once a month - people living with HIV who do not have enough income to rent an apartment. I've taught them how to cut up a whole chicken so that they don't have to pay extra for parts. I've taught them how to use eggs creatively. How to look for certain products when they go to the Food Bank. How to make canned tuna less boring. How to stretch that ground beef that comes in chubs so that it will feed 5 people instead of 4.

I don't know if I would be asked back if I were to advocate what you suggest. Poverty isn't that easily solved. Solutions are hard to find when you are hungry and living on a fixed income. Or no income at all.

After class, I go home and eat my organic spinach and potatoes and free range chicken because I have a conscience. Should I refuse to teach?

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You would think the U.S Government would create an agency that would "provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management."

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I teach cooking classes to poor people once a month - people living with HIV who do not have enough income to rent an apartment. I've taught them how to cut up a whole chicken so that they don't have to pay extra for parts. I've taught them how to use eggs creatively. How to look for certain products when they go to the Food Bank. How to make canned tuna less boring. How to stretch that ground beef that comes in chubs so that it will feed 5 people instead of 4.

I don't know if I would be asked back if I were to advocate what you suggest. Poverty isn't that easily solved. Solutions are hard to find when you are hungry and living on a fixed income. Or no income at all.

After class,  I go home and eat my organic spinach and potatoes and free range chicken because I have a conscience. Should I refuse to teach?

No you shouldn't, you should carry on with the amazing work you're doing...

You are a saint! If more people could have the benefit of your lessons then they could afford to make a chicken go abit further. They could choose to buy foods that aren't as harmful to themselves or the environment.

After one of your creative egg lessons they could make a choice... they could think, why buy a crap piece of chicken, why not buy a few really lovely eggs and have a kick-ass omelette.... they might actually save money.

I think that a lot of accusations of privilege are being aimed at me, when in fact for the privileged, the food budget is a much less significant percentage of overall spending. It is much more important for the less well-off to be savvy about what they spend their food dollars on. It seems like you give a lot of your time to those people for which you should probably get more recognition than you do.

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Well it doesn't take farmland, rather watered beds. Also the cumulative effect is far nicer to the environment. No pesticides, no antibiotics, and you don't need fields of GM grian and soy so you can feed the Spinach 'Frankenstein foods' to make it grow.

OK, so now you want to make spinach too expensive for the poor. I wonder what the cost basis is for watered beds vs field grown spinach. I don't think they use antibiotics on spinach nor do I believe do they feed it "frankenstein foods" to make it grow. Again, it would be nice to have a selection of organic foods at our local stores but to feed our population we do need "food factories".

I would like my food to be humanely treated as much as possible. I don't want my chicken to be drop kicked before it's killed nor do I want my beef to be skinned alive. Nothing's perfect so I expect some problems like this to creep into the system, people are not perfect. To be honest though, if it takes the occasional kicked chicken to put some meat on the table of a poor family I don't mind.

Another thing, up thread you mentioned having a farmer's market. It's a wonderful thing, something I've brought up with our Mayor. The poor shop for the lowest prices to stretch their food budget, that means chain stores. Farmer's Markets are for people who have the leisure time to shop. When I was a young child (before the advent of a grocery store every few blocks) my Mother bought meat from the butcher, greens from a produce stand and groceries from the corner store. Milk was delivered and in the Summer you would have trucks drive down the ally hawking fresh produce. Since then our population has almost doubled and continues to grow.

You cannot expect to feed a growing population using organic methods without price increases. Price increases hurt the poor disproportionately, look at what happened to corn prices when the U.S. switched from MTBE to ethanol. Should the poor in Mexico, Central & South America make do with less corn for tortillas and other staples?

If you have a problem with fast food, that's fine, more power to you. Having been in a position where all I could afford to eat was rice for a month I can see where this push for organic foods, regardless of the consequences, would seem offensive.

Make up your mind. I'm either offending you for advocating the 99c Organic Spinach or I'm offending you by trying to price it higher for some reason.

I'm simply putting information out there that I don't think people have.

It is an easy thing to do to reach for the 69c a lb chicken parts in the mega-mart.

(price-checked at King Soopers today. 10lb of frozen Chicken Quarters for $6.90)

I understand that. However, given all the facts, knowing everything about that Chicken I think a lot of people would buy a smaller amount of meat, add some extra veggies and feel alot better about the food they were eating.

It really doesn't come down to rich or poor. It comes down to knowledge.

It is easier to not think. It's easier to ignore stuff. But if you are poor in America, you really ought to think because you better not get sick. And there are way too many unscrupulous companies who'll take your thoughtless dollar in exchange for garbage.

There are a lot of issues here, but one specific on is that it is very much a case of rich v poor. There is very little evidence that factory farmed meat et al., is significantly different in terms of nutrition them free-range organic. There are many factors that a different, but not so much nutrition.

The average household income in the UK is approximately 25K (pounds), the two lower quintiles are 12-18k. In the case of the lower income groups you are essentially asking them to give up cheap, questionable ethically raised, potentially containing antibiotics, but still nutritious animal protein.

I'm not sure that I am comfortable with removing peoples choice and access to food with out offering a viable alternative. If you come from a higher income bracket then be thankful you can indulge you choice at a farmers market.

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The search for good meat in America.

That could equate to the ecological nastiness of 24 YEARS of CO2 damage, caused in a single year, EVERY YEAR. For burgers. And not even tasty ones.

"The voluminous evidence now strongly suggests that unless we act boldly and quickly to deal with the underlying causes of global warming, our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes including more and stronger storms like Hurricane Katrina, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific."

(Al Gore – An inconvenient truth)

Wow Hamburgers caused Katrina.. I never knew.

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You would think the U.S Government would create an agency that would "provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management."

Or would you end up with the USDA who are funded by the very people they are supposed to be checking up on....

All this time I thought that The United States Department of Agriculture is a central federal department that is funded by the United States Government.. And you are saying its funded by whom? Chicken and Burger Farmers... If you have any factual evidence, it would be great to see.

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Regardless of the merits of the underlying argument, it seems that advocating it from a smug, superior, know-it-all point of view makes it instantly objectionable.

I also think that some radical oversimplification has occurred as well, insofar as "industrial" production of foods does not imply one uniform worst practice that is universal. And the legalistic definition of some of the marketing buzzwords that have been invoked hasn't been addressed either... look into what is required to label a chicken "free range"...

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Regardless of the merits of the underlying argument, it seems that advocating it from a smug, superior, know-it-all point of view makes it instantly objectionable.

I also think that some radical oversimplification has occurred as well, insofar as "industrial" production of foods does not imply one uniform worst practice that is universal.  And the legalistic definition of some of the marketing buzzwords that have been invoked hasn't been addressed either... look into what is required to label a chicken "free range"...

I'm not smug.....


Edited by mattwb (log)

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First of all, not even having to do with food: In the past, I'd been involved in all sorts of social justice activism, and I know the point is to piss people off and make them respond. Understanding your perspective (in terms of how you frame your "argument"), I highly suggest you amend it. You might think you're getting through to people by making them react, but if they don't already agree with the points you make, they will pretty much just treat you like a fly buzzing near their ear. You have to understand other people's arguments and feelings too, if you're going to have a real dialog that doesn't just dissolve into a flame war.

Anyway...

In another thread ("Reforming Vegetarians"), I had a little rant about the situation of food in this country, points within which I think are important to bring up at this time. (Bold text added for emphasis.)

Keep in mind that in most nations, malnutrition among the poor is associated with starving children. In America, malnutrition among the poor is associated with fat children - because the cheapest stuff is what's laden with fats and sugars. In these instances, caloric bang-for-one's-buck usually takes precedence (not necessarily consciously). This is nothing new; sugar consumption as it exists now in the US has a lot to do with its use by the British (and then American) working classes during the Industrial Revolution. Sugar was used in particular by workers as a sweetener for caffeinated drinks (coffee/tea, which was supported by factory owners and the British government that found ways to reduce prices because sugar+caffeine increased worker productivity which increased what we now know as GDP). For the family, it that made it easier for both parents to work outside the home, particularly as used in jam, which could easily be spread onto bread by children when both parents were out working.

Additionally, access to fresh produce is more difficult in the urban areas where the bulk of our nation's poor reside. Supermarkets are reluctant to open locations in these areas because they fear crime, in particular (which adds to operating costs) and so too much food is picked up by busy parents/guardians from corner stores and fast food joints. I remember reading an article in the NY Times that kind of touched on food availability in poor urban areas (click here). In this article, it's framed within hopes for urban renewal for a part of Philadelphia, but you can kind of get a sense of what I'm talking about.

I think it would be prudent for you to read that article I linked to.

You may not intend it, but it certainly feels like there is a class-blind perspective in your argument - the perspective that JimH and others object to (myself included), with reason. Yes, it would be ideal if food improved in this country - it might even be cheaper to operate Medicare/Medicaid as a result. However, calling on this nation's poor - as part of the greater population - to change the foods they buy as if they were anyone else is not reasonable. There are many, MANY factors involved in the choices one makes in the food they eat, and some people do not have the time, financial means, et cetera, to make ethics their #1 priority or a factor at all. Even if they want to. Don't assume that, since they buy "processed foods," that they believe that it's the tastiest and/or best food out there. Maybe making things from scratch ends up taking less time when calculated out, with time spent on medical treatment and such added to the equation. However, I'm sure many of these people don't feel they have the time to investigate these options.

Don't assume that how things taste is more important than getting enough calories to work the next day.

I'll say more later, but right now I'm supposed to be working. :shock:

(edited for a little more clarity)


Edited by feedmec00kies (log)

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All this time I thought that The United States Department of Agriculture is a central federal department that is funded by the United States Government.. And you are saying its funded by whom?  Chicken and Burger Farmers... If you have any factual evidence, it would be great to see.

I'll have to check back on my copy of Fast Food Nation, but I think I recall reading that while the USDA is a government organization, it is heavily influenced by the meat industry... as any part of the government can be influenced by a lobbying group (ch-ching!). Also, due to all sorts of legislation and changes made (I think) in the late 70s early 80s (definitely during the Reagan administration, if not previously as well), the strength and jurisdiction of the USDA have been heavily cut.

That isn't to say that this is a specifically food-related problem. Similar goings-on in the government departments in charge of mining are apparently at least partly to blame for those mining accidents we've heard about in the past decade. It's all about a lack of oversight and resources, which often are a result of lobbying more than anything else, I think.

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First of all, not even having to do with food: In the past, I'd been involved in all sorts of social justice activism, and I know the point is to piss people off and make them respond. Understanding your perspective (in terms of how you frame your "argument"), I highly suggest you amend it. You might think you're getting through to people by making them react, but if they don't already agree with the points you make, they will pretty much just treat you like a fly buzzing near their ear. You have to understand other people's arguments and feelings too, if you're going to have a real dialog that doesn't just dissolve into a flame war.

Anyway...

In another thread ("Reforming Vegetarians"), I had a little rant about the situation of food in this country, points within which I think are important to bring up at this time. (Bold text added for emphasis.)

[Keep in mind that in most nations, malnutrition among the poor is associated with starving children. In America, malnutrition among the poor is associated with fat children - because the cheapest stuff is what's laden with fats and sugars. In these instances, caloric bang-for-one's-buck usually takes precedence (not necessarily consciously). This is nothing new; sugar consumption as it exists now in the US has a lot to do with its use by the British (and then American) working classes during the Industrial Revolution. Sugar was used in particular by workers as a sweetener for caffeinated drinks (coffee/tea, which was supported by factory owners and the British government that found ways to reduce prices because sugar+caffeine increased worker productivity which increased what we now know as GDP). For the family, it that made it easier for both parents to work outside the home, particularly as used in jam, which could easily be spread onto bread by children when both parents were out working.

Additionally, access to fresh produce is more difficult in the urban areas where the bulk of our nation's poor reside. Supermarkets are reluctant to open locations in these areas because they fear crime, in particular (which adds to operating costs) and so too much food is picked up by busy parents/guardians from corner stores and fast food joints. I remember reading an article in the NY Times that kind of touched on food availability in poor urban areas (click here). In this article, it's framed within hopes for urban renewal for a part of Philadelphia, but you can kind of get a sense of what I'm talking about.

I think it would be prudent for you to read that article I linked to.

You may not intend it, but it certainly feels like there is a class-blind perspective in your argument - the perspective that JimH and others object to (myself included), with reason. Yes, it would be ideal if food improved in this country - it might even be cheaper to operate Medicare/Medicaid as a result. However, calling on this nation's poor - as part of the greater population - to change the foods they buy as if they were anyone else is not reasonable. There are many, MANY factors involved in the choices one makes in the food they eat, and some people do not have the time, financial means, et cetera, to make ethics their #1 priority or a factor at all. Even if they want to. Don't assume that, since they buy "processed foods," that they believe that it's the tastiest and/or best food out there. Maybe making things from scratch ends up taking less time when calculated out, with time spent on medical treatment and such added to the equation. However, I'm sure many of these people don't feel they have the time to investigate these options.

I'll say more later, but right now I'm supposed to be working.

Hi there, I understand where you are coming from. However I am not 'blaming the victim'. The people who are the 'choiceless poor' aren't really to be found reading food websites...

Despite some of the reactions to the writing I'm really not trying to be 'preachy'. I really wanted to highlight some of the facts and figures that I found out by doing just a little research. Then I thought I'd post them on a forum that would be read by people interested in the food they eat. I also thought that I had presented them in a way that a lot of people would find humorous.

Bottom-line, there are plenty of people who read these forums who DO have a choice and then make questionable choices for a short-term cash benefit. I'm not having a pop at the poor, or single-mothers etc. And I guess that any lazy slobs out there aren't changing their minds any time soon either. Really I guess the best I could hope for is that a good number of average people choose to shop smarter... Is that really such a bad thing?

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Since this topic has run its course, we're closing it. Thanks for participating.

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