Individual Entry

People Who Still Have Blogs:

  • Me


August, 2018
July, 2018
December, 2017
September, 2017
August, 2017
May, 2017
March, 2017
December, 2016
November, 2016
August, 2016
July, 2016
April, 2016
January, 2016
December, 2015
November, 2015
October, 2015
June, 2015
May, 2015
April, 2015
February, 2015
January, 2015
December, 2014
September, 2014
August, 2014
July, 2014
June, 2014
May, 2014
April, 2014
March, 2014
February, 2014
January, 2014
December, 2013
November, 2013
October, 2013
September, 2013
August, 2013
July, 2013
June, 2013
May, 2013
November, 2012
October, 2012
September, 2012
August, 2012
July, 2012
June, 2012
March, 2012
February, 2012
January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010
August, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010
November, 2009
October, 2009
September, 2009
August, 2009
July, 2009
June, 2009
May, 2009
April, 2009
March, 2009
February, 2009
January, 2009
December, 2008
November, 2008
October, 2008
September, 2008
August, 2008
July, 2008
June, 2008
May, 2008
April, 2008
March, 2008
February, 2008
January, 2008
December, 2007
November, 2007
October, 2007
September, 2007
August, 2007
July, 2007
June, 2007
May, 2007
April, 2007
March, 2007
February, 2007
January, 2007
November, 2006
October, 2006
September, 2006
August, 2006
July, 2006
June, 2006
May, 2006
April, 2006
March, 2006
February, 2006
January, 2006
November, 2005
October, 2005
September, 2005
August, 2005
July, 2005
June, 2005
March, 2005
January, 2005
December, 2004
November, 2004
August, 2004
July, 2004
June, 2004
May, 2004
April, 2004
March, 2004
February, 2004
January, 2004
December, 2003
November, 2003
October, 2003
September, 2003
August, 2003
July, 2003
May, 2003
April, 2003
March, 2003
February, 2003
January, 2003
December, 2002

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS

Life's Odometer

So it is a new year, and that can only mean... that I have some crazy new resolutions!

My resolution from last year, to only eat one sweet thing per day was going pretty well, until around March, when I kind of let it go and let myself eat all the comfort food I liked. Which was fine anyway, since my wife was not a fan of it.

I was tempted to try it again this year, but with the year only a dozen days gone I have been continually blundering into minefields of delectable sweets that are seemingly tiled to the walls about our house after the holidays. They are swiftly eaten by someone who doesn't seem to care what I think on the matter.

A similar resolution in similar shambles is the idea of not eating after 8pm, a concept that I am gleefully defying even while writing this. It also encountered wife opposition, presumably because a startling percentage of our 10 year relationship involves snacking on the couch next to each other.

So that leaves but one contender oath left that seems to bear any chance of long term cohabitation in my brain and with my wife.

I recently watched Food Inc, and afterwards what stuck with me was not the treatment of the animals, which, Spoiler Alert: wasn't very good. That part didn't bother me as much, since, as a whole, my wife purchases meat from our co-op that by and large, do not support those practices.

However, at the end of the day, happy free-range chickens still have their head's cut off, and it seems a thin layer of logic to stand on between the concept of "I want the animal to be happy" and "I want the animal dead and to chew it up in my mouth". In the end, neither the factory farm chicken or the free-range chicken is going to grow-up to head their own multinational meat-packing company, they both have the same deterministic destination.

So, what am I to do? It has taken me thirty years to finally "get around to" gazing into the mechanized abyss that my food comes from, what now?

What ended up sticking with me, was the thought experiment "What if you had to personally end the life of each animal worth of food you ate?" It need not even been up close and personal with a cleaver, simply a button, that somewhere, beheads a chicken in a queue, I'm not bemoaning my lack of butchering skills.

I found that it depended on the animal. Mollusks? Sure, many of them are nothing more than one big cell anyway, if I chew on my cuticles can certainly chew on a mollusk.

Fish? Absolutely, I've caught, killed and eaten fish. They're delicious and I lost no sleep.

Birds? Again, it matters what type. I love the taste of duck, but don't think i could actually slice the neck of a mallard. I've always had a soft spot for ducks, I raised some as a kid, and in general they seem like peaceful creatures.

Geese on the hand, fuck those things, they are mean and smelly, and I wouldn't lose sleep even if I had to wrestle oneto the ground myself and stare in the faces of its five soon to be orphaned goslings as I choked the life out of the one who laid them.

Chickens. Hrm. I'm pretty neutral towards them. I'd feel sorta bad about it, but the things don't seem that smart. In the end, I think I could do it. They just don't seem to have enough going upstairs for me to feel bad about. Also, the fact that they can't fly kind of limits the possibly happy endings. It isn't like ducks where if you let it live it goes and finds a pond in Canada to live happily ever after. No, as I said before, chickens are born to die, either by fox, human, or mechanical grinder to be fed to other chickens.

Pigs. I mean, pigs, right? Who cares? I thought I'd be golden here, and still get to ingest many of my favorite meats. Then my wife pointed out that studies say there were as smart as dogs. Which pretty much sealed the deal. Not sure I could hold a bolt gun to head of anything at the dog threshold. And clearly if I can't do a pig, cows are right out.

So there you have it, a list of animals that I'm pretty sure I could kill myself. Which, funny enough, pretty much matches exactly with the faux vegetarian checklist my wife has. =)

However, my friend Jason, after I detailed my convoluted dietary murder list , he raised an interesting point, "What about Venison?".

This hit me in several ways, first his Venison steaks are simply the finest culinary products I know of, the thought of never eating that again was upsetting.

I quickly offered "Deer are pretty dumb, right? Tiny brains?" I suggested? "Not really", he said, "they're pretty smart".

Hrm, so definitely above pig, so seemingly off-limits.

But then I got to thinking. The real problem here, was that I was tired of the consequences of my daily choices being hidden from me, and wanted to stop having things done on my behalf that I wouldn't ethically do myself.

( I realize, in a modern society I could very well go mad tracking down all the ways my daily lifestyle is compacting the vertebrae of countless people, plants and animals across the globe. )

However, this case was slightly different. My eating or not eating of deer has no effect on how many deer my friend is going to shoot, cut up, and place in a delicious marinade for days. In fact, a key point of this entire philosophy (if it even counts), is the idea that "if you're fine with killing that particular animal, go ahead and eat it".

So I certainly am not going to cluck my teeth and judge any of my friends who enjoy hunting. Quite the opposite. Viewed through the above framework, Jason's venison becomes imbued with an additional value. Not only do they present delicious meat, they also have done the gift of doing something I don't think I could do, and doing so freely, really takes that burden upon themselves, allowing me to eat delicious meat without worrying about what wheels of economic horror I am turning by participating.

My meat was killed by a person freely and as an act of joy. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of all the animals who are slaughtered by low paid immigrants in dangerous working conditions, who have very few other choices.

So there you have it my resolution to only eat meat from seafood, chicken, geese, and anything my friends are willing to kill for me. Which I think might ethically break down if we ever do experience a supply shortage so severe that people resort to cannibalism. But in that case, it is still good to know people who own guns. =)

1 comment:

I enjoyed your post. I went through a similar experience after reading the Omnivorous Dilemma (I don't think you ever made it to the good part of that book :).

An interesting point raised in that book which struck me was that most farm raised animals have coevolved with humans. That is, a farm pig is not a wild boar. Just as a deer would not be so fleet of foot or have such beautiful spots were it not for the wolf, the species of pigs, cows, chickens, turkey, etc that live on farms are as they are because of that species "decision" to evolve along side humans. I believe he poses the mental experiment of imagining the fate of the liberated farm animals, set free of their human chains. Its not a pretty picture :) (Though, dieing of exposure could easily be argued to be better than the life most factory farm animals live).

Also, let me take your blog as an opportunity to plug a book I plan to write one day in the future: Its the "No Label Diet". You don't eat anything that comes with a label. Alternatively, it could be called the No UPC Diet. Eat nothing with a UPC. Can't you hear the NPR story now: Man goes an entire year trying to eat food that has no label...Read his book to find out what it takes!
by: Mike (contact) - 12 Jan '10 - 07:46


Meta Information:

Title: Life's Odometer
Date posted: 12 Jan '10 - 00:35
Filed under: General
Word Count: 1,177 words
Good Karma: 112 (vote)
Bad Karma: 91 (vote)
Next entry:  On Authority
Previous entry:  Boring Administrative Note