My Beef with the Beef Industry: Making the Move to Greener Pastures

A few posts back, I let it slip that I have joined the bandwagon of label-scrutinizing folks in hunt of the much-hyped-up phrase, "hydrogenated oil." This has been, for me, a challenge to eliminate trans fat from my diet almost exclusively. If I'm at a restaurant, I make judgement calls - I do not ask for ingredients lists. However, brands - from grocery store amenities to chain food eateries like Dunkin' Donuts alike - I research to the point of exhaustion. So, I may go to Insert-Local-Cafe-Of-Your-Choice and not ask if the peanut butter is the crummy trans fat kind (although you won't see me ordering a pie crust blindly - this is no ignorance is bliss campaign); but I did send an email to corporate Rita's requesting information on trans fat status (for those of you in the area who know what the heck Rita's is, all of their products except cream ices are guaranteed free of hydrogenated oils!) before starting my routine Rita's runs this summer.

All of that wordiness, to say that my next challenge is approaching. Originally, I was planning to cut back on those sugary treats. You see, I eat really well during the day. Really well. And I exercise almost every day. I can afford to eat dessert every day if I feel like it. The problem is that dessert, for me, does not stop at one brownie or even one Very Large Brownie With A Scoop Of Vanilla Ice Cream On Top. No, I have developed the bad habit of inhaling three brownies topped with more ice cream than I definitely should, without even blinking an eye. So, I wanted to take a step back, slow down, and learn to appreciate those cakes and brownies and bowls of ice cream. That's not to say that if I finished my One Modest Brownie with an Equally Acceptable Dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream and my tummy was still a-rumbling, I would deprive myself of anything else saturated, saccharine, or otherwise fully delicious. It was more to just be able to appreciate the flavors and the dessert for what it really was, rather than - pardon the image - snarfing the whole thing down in one fell swoop.

That was to be my next challenge, until I sat down to finally watch the documentary, King Corn. I don't know how many of you have seen it, but it just about made me want to go on the raw food diet, because that's about how much variety avoiding corn products gives you. I soon realized, though, that I am not all that crazy (yet), but am certainly bold enough to swear off non-grassfed beef for good. As a first step. This first step is a big step for me, not because I'm a big red meat eater (did you guess from the mountains and mountains of poultry recipes I dole out to you guys?), because I most certainly am not, but because, well, grassfed beef is expensive. And not, to my knowledge, sold at the local Giant that my family frequents; rather, it is sold at the Way Across Town Whole Foods, which my family sparingly frequents and never ever pays for meat there. And my family definitely will not change just because I decided to, meaning I will watch them eat their non-grassfed steaks and their non-grassfed burgers, and I will look begrudgingly down at my quinoa burgers and black bean burgers and piles of broccoli, wistfully imagining a world where I could eat natural food without selling my soul and entire savings account to the Corporate Food Devil.

So, I am saying goodbye to steak and burgers. Okay, I can't lie, I'm not starting this until after Sunday because I can't celebrate The Hamburger Holiday with a black bean burger. That's called diving into the deep end, folks, and I much prefer the inching into the kiddie pool school of thought. Still, I wanted to share this with you, because I'm kind of into Nutrition and kind of into sustainability and have been entertaining the idea of pseudo-vegetarianism (aka becoming plant-based).

What do you think of processed foods? Cattle and feed lots? King Corn? Food Inc.? Vegetarianism for environmental reasons? For animal rights reasons?

I just want to know, because King Corn made a hell of an argument (whilst the main dudes of the documentary sat eating the Golden Arches Burger Itself, naturally) for giving up grainfed beef. You see, grain kind of kills the cattle, which we would find out for certain if we didn't slaughter them right as they started to get sickly. Also, beef that comes from sad and corn-fed cows has about 6.5x the amount of saturated fat as the stuff that comes from happy grassfed cows! Crazy, right? So not only are we making them sick and killing them, but we're contributing largely to the heart disease rates that are making us sick and killing us. Also, feed lots are tragic and disheartening, and really downright disgusting when you think about it. Aside from the whole cost and convenience aspect of it, I can't find many reasons not to tackle the beef industrial beast, so to speak.

This blog isn't really about my journey through these random, self-imposed challenges that I think up every couple of months (and just to be clear, moving on to grass-fed cattle doesn't mean that I can now go back to trans fats; I build the new challenge on top of the previous ones, so all of the old rules still apply); so, I won't log on here and tell you all about that juicy burger I turned down and how very hard it was to do so, nor will I wave my hands up in the air and jump and shout about some marvelous restaurant that uses natural beef (I say natural because, hello, cows were made to eat grass). I just wanted to write a post about the next challenge I'll be facing, because maybe Someone will find it mildly interesting, and it would shake things up around these Recipe Parts of the internet.

Speaking of recipes, though, I'll be back with pictures and lists of ingredients very soon. I have two desserts planned that I hope turn out well so that I can continue to be excited to share them with you, and it's getting to be time for me to try to cook dinner again soon.

So you will be hearing from me soon, but until then, I would really love to hear from you - your thoughts, opinions, memories, experiences, anything! Tell me your beef. Or something.

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