I love bacon. I love pork-chops. I love grilled steak and burgers, short ribs and chicken thighs. I love meatballs.
That said, if you keep an eye on culinary news, you already know that the majority of meats that are readily available to American consumers are laced with a whole host of unfortunate pathogens. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that excessive consumption of processed or red meat, including our beloved bacon, is carcinogenic.
So how do we reconcile our cravings and our morals? Personally, though I recognize the horrors of factory meat, I’m just not willing to go vegetarian. This choice is backed both by my stubborn taste buds, and my strong opinion that large scale produce farming tends to be about as unethical. When you factor in harmful pesticides; genetically modified products; and brutal, low-paying, back-breaking work that many farmhands face, (not to mention the environmental impact of shipping vegetables from all over the world to our grocery stores), buying a tomato in the middle of winter in New York City doesn’t really feel like a moral high-ground.
Mix that with the fact that many vegetarian, meat-substitute products were found to have trace amounts of meat in them (about 10% of products tested by California Clear Labs were be laced meat, or human, DNA), and the choice to go meatless loses any credible reasoning in my book.
These horrors, stacked together and against one another, amount to what can only be described as a crisis. Furthermore, the answers that are readily available in our arsenal to avoid the health dangers or ethical ramifications of our purchased food–eat local, eat organic, buy animal proteins that are ethically raised, and free of hormones and antibiotics–are solutions that are largely inaccessible for many Americans. Specifically, those with lower incomes, or residing in areas known as “food deserts” where healthy or fresh foods are simply unavailable.
Luckily, It’s the season of giving: and there some incredible organizations working towards making healthy, ethical, and delicious food accessible for everyone, as well as implementing educational initiatives to inform people about the implications of what they’re putting into their bodies. As you decide where from to source your Holiday Ham, take a second and think about contributing to one of these organizations. Food is one of the greatest pleasures that we can share with our loved ones; this year, along with cheer, spread food, spread love, spread health, happiness, and knowledge.
Featured photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker.