Meat Isn't Our Only Problem (But It's Still a Big One)

Pt3...or is this 4? Anyway, pretty much everything here is from "The End of Food" or from my own common sense and then vindicated by said book.

Okay, so the fact that people tend to stop eating meat at least for a few days after learning about slaughterhouses should be a giant red warning bell (or worse yet, a blue screen). Here's a couple of fun facts that have nothing to do with animal cruelty (unless you're counting humans, perhaps...who says hot dogs are the only form of mystery meat): one, fast food meat patties are made from an average of four cows (in McDonald's, it's as high as 50) and McNuggets and other shaped chicken-based items are made by melting chicken meat into a slurry and then pouring it into molds.

And then there's my personal favorite. I'm sure we acknowledge France as a leader in the creation of gourmands (and if you don't, go eat some oh-so-overpriced food in Paris, I mean those thin crepes what)....

Ham in France is now processed and repackaged to achieve a uniform consistency. People in France are more afraid of natural meat, with its six layers of varying color and density, than of the pinky pinky identical crap.

And this isn't just a problem about meat. I hate bringing organic into this, but if you compare organic and processed food, or just read the labels on your, for instance, bag of oranges...organic food isn't as pretty (and the bananas ripen too damn fast); and oranges have color added to make them, well, more orange.

Basically, we've hit a point where natural food is scarier than the homogenized factory crap we buy in grocery stores.

Don't blame it on the farmers, though; blame it on the retailers, if you are like me and have no intention of doing something big like protesting or joining the ALF or maybe maybe going up to the government and asking President Obama why he's allowing the waste of billions on near-undetectable cybercrime when maybe we should be weeding all those goddamn fucking lobbyists out of the USDA....

So "The End of Food" is about how food has been transformed into an increasingly global economy, and how this does not work at all. We've been outrunning Malthus for more than a century now, but in the end you can't squeeze crops out when the topsoil's been blown away no matter how good your techniques.

Worse, the weird nature of food as a commodity where surpluses can't be used has resulted in a phenomenon wherein the more food is available, the lower prices go. Farmers need all the money they can get, and this means extracting as much as possible...even if it sends coffee prices to ten cents a...whatever. And while these prices drop, consumers pay more for the finished product. At the end of the 20th century, cups of coffee became more and more expensive.

And, even worse, buying fresh, unprocessed produce doesn't actually make anything better. It's even rougher for the small- to mid-size farmer because of this whole consistency question (haricots verts sent to France have to be straight and 100 mm, if they're not then they're tossed)....

So especially with spring on the way: buy from your regional (as a trend, local is a little too narrow, especially if you're eating meat) farmer's market. Sure, it's a rip off in the States...but it'd be nice if we could avoid a future where quality food is unattainable.

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