(Oh…this is most certainly a rant.)
It’s good to see Joey again, though we haven’t yet had the time to “chill” over Nutty Bars and Kozy Shack (a number of you know what I’m talking about…ugh). That’ll come soon enough, and I’m sure he’ll have all sorts of corn-fed stories from the Dakotas. 😉
It’s almost like coming full circle, as a number of friends who’ve spent their post-graduate lives in the military have slowly been filtering back home from wherever they’d been posted. Joey’s back in southern California, right where he left it—though his health has, unfortunately, taken a bit of a battering in recent years. It’s the sort of thing that will surely lead to frequent doctor visits and an increased consumption of premium prescription medications—but I still believe diet could ward off the worst. If you feed a disease what it wants, then it will surely flourish; if you learn to starve the disease and feed the body, well, then you’re onto something.
I’ve always believed that.
A couple years back I became a vegetarian—not because I was a righteous animal rights activist or tree-hugging “Evils of Meat” zealot, but because of certain health problems that seemed to suddenly develop out of nowhere. It took a few years of doctor visits, pondering several different medications, agonizing over what the rest of my life would be like if I was to remain “stricken,” but eventually I found a doctor who suggested that a very real treatment was to stop the illness at its source. In my case, what I was eating was making me sick; I removed all dark meats (and most of the dairy) from my diet and within a week, all symptoms disappeared. Naturally, it took a while to get used to being a vegetarian (supplementing was the hardest), but it felt good to have made a conscious choice for myself rather than resigning to the mass-hypnosis pushing pills for this, pills for that. It was a helluva lot cheaper too.
Now, what works for me works for me only, and not everyone shares the same willingness to sacrifice burgers for bragging rights, as far as health is concerned (lower risk of cancer, appendicitis, etc.). Modern society has been around for a while now; some of our eating habits are no longer required (nor healthy) now that practically everything we Americans ingest has been mass-produced. Even then, we have the ability to mass-produce in healthier and more efficient ways despite the fact that we are the only species on the planet that seems not to fit correctly. We have no claws, our fur is too thin, our teeth are blunt nubs barely capable of chewing through our TV dinners…but we have our intelligence, our cunning. We have the gift of logic and consciousness combined in that we are conscious of our actions. We can think in terms of cause and effect, and then not just to get ourselves from one meal to the next.
In earlier times, humans existed in hunting and gathering tribes. We killed and used what we needed to survive. Eating meat was certainly necessary to survive, because that’s all there was. Some were gardeners, yes, but that required a lot of patience from a seemingly shipwrecked race struggling to fit in with all the lions, tigers, and bears (when you’re hungry as hell, you certainly don’t want to wait around for the potatoes to sprout).
Indeed, we’ve come a long way from our loincloth-and-bone-clubs roots. We have supermarkets, chain outlets—Starbucks cafes on every street corner. When the last of the “big” small farms was bought out in the 1970s, we entered an era where you could be anywhere in the country and still get whatever your heart desired from any local grocery market. We don’t have to go out and shoot, hack, or trap our meals anymore. Hunting’s a very handy talent for those who still live in rural areas—indeed, farmers who still raise all their own cattle are somewhat exempt from my little rant because they’re providing their own food. But for the rest of us, is it necessary? If we’ve relegated ourselves to the mercy of others for our water, gas, and electricity, why do we so adamantly draw the line at beef?
Which isn’t to say eating meat is bad. If cattle were raised and fed properly, we wouldn’t have to worry half as much about spongiform, bacteria, and species-jumping viruses. If we shifted the baseline of our diets slightly away from burgers, bacon, and hotdogs (do hotdogs really count as meat?), there would be more left for us humans to cram into our ravenous little tummies, as we currently continue to feed more than two thirds of all our grain to our livestock when we could be distributing it to ourselves. And what about all the water needed to raise our burgers from the stable to the dinner plate? And what about the prospect of alternative fuel sources looming in the not-too-distant future, what of a world where vast cornfields exist for the production of ethanol, livestock feed, and, if there’s any left over, us humans?
Isn’t something a little backwards here?
I don’t know. I suppose it’s sort of like the energy crisis, with too-large power grids struggling to crank out enough electricity for every television, VCR, refrigerator, and computer suckling from our outlets. Maybe a productive approach would be more localization, as opposed to burdening a small handful of gargantuan farms with the task of feeding an entire nation.
That way when one of the giants stumbles, the entire nation won’t have to bear its weight.