You and your planet's health
By Trent Loos
As much as I would absolutely love to devote this space to one of the many celebrations of the American food system that we have, instead I must ask of our industry, “Are you kidding me?”
Yes, in the past week it was announced that the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards has plans to rename 350 different cuts of beef and pork. We are only changing beef and pork for now, and lamb and veal are yet to come.
Meanwhile, in the very same week, we have headlines like this: “From Pets To Plates: Why More People Are Eating Guinea Pigs.”
National Public Radio is promoting that their most forwarded story of the week is that guinea pigs are not just for pets but in fact they have been domesticated for 7,000 years for food. It may not shock you that guinea pigs are a staple in South American countries, but what I am concerned with is why NPR is promoting that they could grow in popularity as food in the United States. The article states:
Some environmental and humanitarian groups are making a real push to encourage guinea pig farming as an eco-friendly alternative to beef. And the animals are also showing up in more U.S. restaurants.
In addition to that bit of good news, carnitine, one of the essential nutrients found in beef and pork, has been blamed for causing heart disease. However, in the very article that blames beef and energy drinks that contain carnitine for causing heart disease, the authors admitted that:
Although the new study could not prove any cause-and-effect relationship between carnitine and heart damage, the findings may provide a new understanding of the benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets, the researchers said.
Despite that lack of evidence linking the compound to heart disease, they recommend the elimination of meat from the diet, period. Really?
Meanwhile back at the ranch, we in the meat industry have our panties in a wad over calling a pig loin a pork chop instead of calling it porterhouse chop. Who cares?
We have so many people around the world questioning the sustainability of meat production and consumption but we are worried about what we name the silly thing? If we don’t address the real issues, it won’t matter what we call it because we won’t be raising it because people won’t be eating it.
First of all, why don’t we spend more time educating the consumer on the proper cooking and preparation techniques for meat products? If it tastes good and people like it, they will be back for more. It is glaringly clear that no matter how much genetic selection, feeding expertise and handling perfection we implement with the animal, five minutes in the cooking phase can screw that all up.
Secondly, we need to explain that the consumption of meat improves the planet and benefits human lives. I suggest we get real busy in explaining that 85 percent of the United States land mass is not suited for growing anything but cellulose material and only a ruminant animal can convert that into food that humans can benefit from.
Most importantly, it is scientifically proven that people who consume milk, meat and eggs excel at intelligence because these products feed the brain.
In closing, I understand that when you are losing the little battles you need to appear as though you are still relevant, but the truth of the matter is that whether you call it a Flat Iron Steak or a Top Blade Steak it doesn’t matter unless they understand the importance of eating it and how it improves the planet.
Call it what you want, but most importantly call on it when you are ready to eat. It will benefit the health of both you and your planet.
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.