The most interesting information from NPR’s Meat Week is that eating meat is terrible for the planet  »

[Source: J.L. Capper, Journal of Animal Science, December, 2011.
Credit: Producers: Eliza Barclay, Jessica Stoller-Conrad; Designer: Kevin Uhrmacher/NPR]

I listened to NPR’s Meat Week stories because I always listen to Morning Edition in the wee hours while I’m getting ready for work every day (two-hour commute party!), and am a prisoner to whatever they put on the radio. At the end of June, it was all about dead flesh. Too cool.

Here’s a summary for you, so you know what we talk about when we talk about eating meat.

Day One: Some dope who follows the Paleo diet (and does CrossFit, shocking!) is an expert witness in “We Evolved to Eat Meat, but How Much Is Too Much?” Yes. Did they ask this guy on purpose, knowing he’d come off like an idiot? Maybe. NPR, you tricksters.

Day Two: In “The Making of Meat-Eating America,” we learn that Americans eat meat because we are wealthy and can afford it, plus it’s cheaper here. Also, technology! The railway shipped sides of beef from sea to shining sea! But we’re eating less now, mostly because it’s fucking unhealthy to eat so many animals.

Day Three: Nationally we’re choking down fewer dead cows (“red meat”) than ever before. “Why There’s Less Red Meat on Many American Plates” explores “changing trends in meat consumption,” namely, with a few exceptions—like those back-to-prehistoric times dolts—people are cutting back, because we care about our health, and our planet (n.b. the above infographic), and all those animal lives. Except chickens, it’s totally cool to eat chickens, right?

Day Four: You want independent farming? “Unlike Chicken and Pork, Beef Still Begins with Small Family Ranches” will see your independent farming and raise you a “the cattle industry is bottle-shaped,” in which the wide bottom is the many smaller ranches where cows are artificially inseminated to make new cows, the shoulders are the feedlots where not-yet-year-old cows are sent to put on grain-weight, and the neck is the four packing companies that kill-n-pack 82 percent of the edible cow sold in the U.S. Gosh, the death industry is revolting.

Day Five: Hey look, meaty billboards!

So there’s your Meat Week: Americans love eating animals, but maybe less than they used to (except chickens); the meat industry isn’t very big but it sure is mighty, and really horrible for the environment. Cool story, NPR. 


Meat Week infects NYC  »

Tomorrow, NYC’s Meat Week comes to a close. It’s tragic, really. You know how I feel about Meat Week, but unlike many Meat Weeks I’ve read about, NYC’s carries the message of sustainability. It’s a celebration of “the farmers, markets and chefs who bring sustainable meat to our tables,” to be exact. How very charming! 

While this message seems good, at least better than your “bacon, lulz” Meat Weeks, it’s still off the mark. I refer you to a recent article from The Atlantic by James McWilliams. He makes the point that while people seem more conscious of and opposed to factory farms than ever, factory farms are booming:

Earlier this month we learned that the global production and consumption of meat is skyrocketing. Indeed, according to the Worldwatch Institute, meat production has tripled over the last forty years, growing 20 percent in the last 10 years alone. What’s particularly distressing about this recent 20 percent increase is that it’s occurred as campaigns against factory farms have reached a fevered pitch.”

He goes on to say:

As long as we eat meat factory farms will be the dominant mode of production. In other words, as long as humans deem it culturally acceptable to consume animal flesh — that is, as long as eating meat is an act that’s not considered taboo — factory farms will continue to proliferate. The reason for this strikes me as intuitive: An unfettered demand for meat, in conjunction with basic human choice, provides political, technological, and scientific incentives to produce meat as efficiently as possible. Unless you have a plan to displace capitalism, density of production will rule, billions of animals will suffer, and our health will continue to decline.

His ultimate point: “Until meat as meat is stigmatized, factory farms will thrive as assuredly as a dropped object falls downwards.” He says of course there will always be people who get meat from alternative sources such as small, sustainable farms, but as Laura paraphrased it, “as long as there is meat week, there will be factory farms, and the seven wealthy locavores don’t really matter all that much.” 

So thanks, Meat Week NYC organizers, for continuing to glorify meat despite the fact that it’s cruel and destroying the planet. Meat consumption is an epidemic. It compromises people’s health and quality of life. If Meat Week had a responsible message, it wouldn’t be “eat sustainable meat,” it would be “eat less meat.”


It’s Friday, which means it’s time for this week’s charmingly lunacy-tinged link-o-rama!  »

Awwww! I know it’s the Daily Mail (UGH) but just read this story about Louie the obstacle-course-mastering pig and then close the tab. It’s a good story!

This week we’re still serving our U.S. citizens terrible lunches, while they’re getting huge full meals in other countries. Hot-stuff vegan Ted Leo talked to Eater about his awesome eating life, answering the idiotic question: “So do you consider yourself a strict vegan then or a little more ‘a la carte’ with your vegan choices?” by stating that, “Yeah… I wouldn’t say I was vegan if I was a la carte.” We love a man with principles. And a few eye-wrinkles, swoon. Or how about an athlete: Richard Adams went vegan after one visit to the animals at Farm Sanctuary, and now competes in crazy -lons/-thons to raise money for them!

Classic FDA/USDA recalls this week. First, cilantro sold under the labels Nature’s Reward, Ocean Mist, Tanimura & Antle, and Queen Victoria is being recalled because, oopsie, it’s all full of salmonella! Thanks, Sabor Farms of Salinas, Calif.! Second, “All Toxic Waste® Brand Nuclear Sludge® Products All Flavors And All Sizes” have been recalled because of elevated levels of lead! Who would have thought? At least the whale meat in Japan is free of lethal contaminants! Probably local, too, unlike every fish served at nearly every Bay Area restaurant, whoops. I wonder what ol’ Michael “don’t eat a lot of meat! unless it’s me, in which case, every week is Meat Week!" Pollan would say about eating insects—aren’t they totally local and sustainable? Well, one out of two. Chefs in London won’t be using shark fins in their dishes anymore, so there’s one win this week.

If you’re concerned about food for moral issues, definitely take a look at Salon’s guide to egg labeling—it’s informative! Megan Rascal’s scary pig cartoon is helping a vegan mom teach her kid about preventing animal cruelty. This Government Office of Accountability report on the F.D.A.’s total ineffectiveness at enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, despite being totally unsurprising, is really depressing, what with the egregious animal abuse inspectors aren’t stopping and all. Neat! It’s neat how in April 2010 a company working through Outdoor Adventures “euthanized,” meaning brutally murdered, somewhere between 70 and 100 sled dogs they no longer had use for post-driving-tourists-around-on-sleds season. Guess they didn’t need them for the Iditarod! Chinese families don’t need the pet rabbits they’re buying in celebration of the new year, the Year of the Rabbit, but they’re buying them anyway! Hey, just like dumbasses in the U.S. at Easter, only the article about it is full of racist puns as well as rabbit jokes. Mutts, though, Mutts is funny. Let’s read this 1996 interview with Patrick McDonnell and actually laugh.

[photo via the Daily Mail]


Celebrate the everyday with Meat Week, the festival for people with too much time on their hands  »

Want to hear something that’s just so cool? There’s a group dedicated to creating a “Meat Week” in cities throughout the country! How clever is that?! OMG such a great idea. Wait, can we also have a White History Month and a Straight Pride Parade?! Bros, reality check: American culture has beat you to Meat Week! But we just call it, “this week,” or occasionally, “next week” and sometimes, “last week.” Get it? Every week is Meat Week here in the U.S. of A.

I read their website so you don’t have to—and oh my god do you owe me. Suffering through their writing was like having someone vomit stupidity directly into my brain. For real, don’t read it; it will make you dumber. I will break it down for you instead: Meat Week was started by a Floridian fanboy and -girl who took time off from whatever role-playing game I’ve never heard of to eat BBQ for a week. Somehow I doubt this is really anything new; I’m sure they ate plenty of BBQ before this, they just wanted to add a “festivus” element to make their redundant evening plans a little more exciting. Mission accomplished, pals!

This is like those people who were protesting smoke-free bars. In my youth, I enjoyed an indoor cigarette here and there but to actually spend your energy protesting that? With all the problems and injustice in the world, that is the what really gets you off the couch? For shame, people. Seriously, that’s pathetic. It’s as pathetic as using your resources, energy and skills to organize a “Meat Week” when everyone and his mom is already eating more meat than the world can sustain. Americans eat about twice the global average of meat a day while the meat industry continues to destroy the planet. This is an example of the “FUCK YOU WORLD” attitude that makes everyone hate the United States. For real, everyone thinks Americans are gluttonous, mindless, smug douchebags and things like a Meat Week are exactly why.

I’ve got a great idea: let’s have an Fossil-Fuel Week! We could do it right after Bike-to-Work Week. All we have to do is get millions of people to drive their cars everywhere all the time, spend a ton on industrialized heating and cooling systems, personally use as much electricity and power as possible and let’s cover the country in factory farms. OMG WAIT HOLD THE PHONE! OK, OK, well how about a petroleum slip-n-slide?! Oh, right.

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