Earlier this week, the New York Times published an online debate tackling the knotty issue of how to make livestock practices more humane. In three states, laws have been proposed to ban taking undercover videos of how the animals are treated. Supporters say it’s a safety risk to the animals to have trespassers skulking about. Detractors–well, you can imagine what they think. Until there’s no longer anything to hide, they feel these videos are important.
The “something to hide” bit points to the larger issue–how abysmally we treat these animals, not to mention how full of hormones, disease, and chemicals they are by the time they reach our stores. How to turn the tide was what the Times aimed to tackle with a who’s-who of experts, from Temple Grandin and the president of the Humane Society to economists and law professors. The ideas were as varied as the contributors–from creating a domestic peace corps for farming to criminalizing cruelty to farm animals. But time and again, nearly all of the experts turned the issue back to us, the consumers, arguing that our dollars were the surest, clearest path to making this health and humanitarian issue a thing of the past.
Having seen the chickens flopping around in Food, Inc. and knowing that drug-resistant bacteria is rampant in store meat (47% of chicken, pork, turkey, and beef, according to a recent study) has gotten me really thinking hard about my choices. I find I eat less meat now, and I’m quite careful about researching where what I do consume comes from. When I’m in New York, it’s pretty easy (people are obsessed with this stuff here), but out in my parents’ town in PA, for instance, it’s trickier. I’m also not feeding a whole family–where I know cost becomes a much bigger issue. Something that struck me about the Times debate is how few solutions the experts had for helping consumers better access these healthier choices. Probably because there are no easy answers.
…until you hear about an approach somebody’s taking and think–wow, that was under our noses the whole time. I’m always surprised, heartened, and inspired by how smart people can be about making things work. So, I’m wondering, how do you navigate eating meat these days? Have you radically changed your habits? Adapted just a few things that make a lot of sense to you? Or are you still working it all out?