Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mass produced meats

I read The Jungle (by Upton Sinclair) in high school for fun. For some strange reason I picked it up at the library and actually read the whole book. Too be honest, when it comes to classic literature, I am not well-read. The genres "literature OR historical fiction" literally bore me to tears and put me to sleep, respectively. But something about The Jungle kept me interested, maybe it was the gory details of meat-processing. But an article I read this afternoon (don't click if you're in the middle of a cheeseburger) makes me think of the circumstances in The Jungle as downright 'nice' compared to today. I'm a little past half-way through Omnivore's Dilemma and also Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. And for the first time in my life, I am seriously considering becoming a vegetarian. When I think of the mass-production of beef, chicken and turkey...I can almost smell the manure. The crowded, feces-filled, tiny aluminum buildings these animals live in, by the thousands, sadden me. But am I strong enough to really be a vegetarian? Without a doubt one of my faults is 'lack of discipline'. But honestly, there is a ton I could give up easily, without a second-thought like porkchops, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, steak, most ground beef items. And then there are the few things that I actually crave...baked ham, thanksgiving turkey. And I'm not sure what I think about hamburgers right now. I have always hated "unidentifable" meat and ground beef typically falls into this category. But I eat cheeseburgers happily even though sometimes I come across something I can't quite identify. Hmmm...I think its worth trying...but I'm going to continue to eat fish and shrimp and crab. I need something to look forward to besides vegetables at dinner. :)

10 comments:

Mommy Schiff said...

EWWWW! I hate that when you bite into a burger and there is a weird hard piece in there. Is it a bone? Some grisle?(sp?) What the hell is grisle anyway? Gross!

Looseyfur said...

Okay, the last time I bought meat from Wal-mart was in late 2003. I made tacos with ground beef. And I took a bite and hurt myself. I thought, weird maybe it's a bone... and then I washed it off.

It was a piece of wood about the width of a dime but 1/4 of an inch thick that had gotten chopped up with the beef.

It was the last time I ever bought something that didn't come boxed and preserved in a box or can at Wal-Mart. That's probably irrational, but it kind of made me wonder what else slipped by them.

Lavender Lemonade said...

How awful - a piece of wood! Did you call them up and complain? I've been almost vegetarian for a day now. Yeah, me. :)

Misc said...

I love The Jungle. I taught it in my former life as a h.s. English teacher.

Sinclair didn't intend the novel to be an indictment on the meat packing industry, but that's the way it turned out - it's what everyone remembers.

I don't eat a lot of meat, but I'm not fully veg either as I'm married to a dedicated carnivore. :-)

The Fearless Freak said...

You are such a nerd! I love it! I also read The Jungle for fun while in high school (and partly to prove the teacher that said "after you read it, you will never eat meat again" wrong)

Lavender Lemonade said...

Well, my work cafeteria was having chicken patties with mashed potatoes and that white gravy for lunch. It reminded me of my high school "hot lunch". So of course, I ate it. I'm not doing well on the vegetarian thing. Maybe I need to look at that terrible article and video again.

Leeanthro said...

Being a (mostly) vegetarian, I do miss a couple of things (prosciutto,meatloaf). Maybe the solution for you is to eat only organic meat from local farms (The Moore's for instance or Triple K both sell at the Farmer's Market). There aren't the same issues with mass produced meat when you buy organic.

I've never been opposed to organic, but in the beginning it was easier to cut it all out (except fish that's the "mostly" part).

I also hear from friends that organic meat has so much more flavor that you actually get satisfaction from eating less.

Leeanthro said...

Oh, read Fast Food Nation and Mad Cowboy (especially this one) by Howard Lyman. That's what turned me vegetarian.

Lavender Lemonade said...

misc- a former English teacher...I should have known my the speed with which you zoom through novels! And I know what you mean about being married to a dedicated carnivore, hmmm. As if a tofu nugget would kill 'em.

Lavender Lemonade said...

leeanthro- thanks for the book recommends. i'll check them out. and yeah, i think the "responsible" meat eater might be a good place for me to start...until I finish those books, perhaps.