Put Your $ Where Your Mouth Is

Do you ever come across information that just clicks with you? That gets you all fired up and stokes your passion? This happens to me every so often and I feel compelled to share this information with others - whether they want it or not!

I am reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma for my Nutritional Therapy program. Albeit this is the second time I am reading it as the first I couldn't hang and gave up. But that was years ago and I wasn't as tuned in to the real food movement like I am now. So this time around the information is really resonating with me. I am going to share information that I feel cannot be ignored, as much as we all turn a blind eye to it on a regular basis.

This quote stood out to me in the first section of the book about Industrial Corn:

"When you add together the natural gas in the fertilizer to the fossil fuels it takes to make the pesticides, drive the tractors, and harvest, dry, and transport the corn, you find that every bushel of industrial corn requires the equivalent of between a quarter and third of a gallon of oil to grow it - around 50 gallons of oil per acre of corn. It's too bad we can't simply drink the petroleum directly."

For whatever reason this reminded me of vegetarians/vegans who refuse to eat meat because of ethical reasons. This abstaining from meat never made sense to me, mostly because I understand the health benefits of eating protein from animals, but now that I understand how monocropping works and the toll it takes on the environment and our health (think pollution, chemical runoff, etc) it makes even less sense to me that people would not support local, sustainable farming but continue to buy processed foods which are made from corn and soybeans - the aforementioned monocrops.

The only way we can prevent meat animals from living purely awful lives is to support farms that allow the cows to live on pasture and eat grass, that allow chickens and pigs to free range and eat grubs, scraps, and plants as nature intended. I couldn't agree more that factory farming and industrial feedlots which force these animals to remain tied up or stuffed in enclosed spaces, never seeing the sun, and being pumped full of hormones so they are too big to even walk is a disgraceful practice.

BUT I don't abstain from eating meat altogether simply because these practices exist, instead I pay extra for the grassfed beef, the pasture-raised chicken and pork. I buy from local farms when possible and in bulk to lower the cost. By supporting these nature-intended farming practices financially, I am pulling money away from factory farms, and promoting more ethical treatment of animals.

What I'm not doing is abstaining from meat and therefore spending my hard earned dollars on fake foods like tofu, meatless meat products, and processed foods - which are made from corn and soybeans. These crops absolutely ruin the soil they are planted in, require huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, cause runoff into drinking water making it unsafe to drink, and are so heavily produced we need to come up with new uses for them - like putting them in our gasoline. I'm not even going to mention the fact that we need animal products to get certain vitamins and minerals that we cannot get from plant-based foods.

My point here is that the only way to make changes is to throw money around. Big farming industry has historically had U.S. lawmakers in their pocket and the government still subsidizes the corn and soybean growers in this country. If we want to make any difference in how our food is sourced or produced, we need to invest in sustainable farming in which the plants and animals grow as nature intended them to. Without hormones, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and monocropping.