I grew up the daughter of a butcher. As a consequence, I’ve always been a meat snob. So much so, that people often mistook me for a vegetarian because I wouldn’t eat whatever crappy shrink-wrapped meat they purchased at the grocery store.
But I was just picky. As a kid, if I didn’t want pork chops for dinner, my dad would shrug and make me a filet mignon. (Now that I’m a mom, I can see why that was easier than picking a fight.)
Fast forward to college and I was an Industrial Engineering major. (What is that, you ask?) It means that I love nerdy factory efficiencies; solving for X and finding the shortest possible route between several destinations. It also means that as an adult, I’ve become an avid meal planner, DVR user, and list-maker.
But, back in college, the lust for efficiency meant that I applauded the factory farming techniques that bring us industrial agriculture as progress.
My path away from factory farming has been slow and deliberate. It was my book club reading of Fast Food Nation that put me off my weekly McDonald’s burger and our subsequent reading of The Omnivore’s Dilemma that turned me into a label reader intent on avoiding ingredients that are not real food.
Oh yeah, and becoming a mom has changed everything too.
Earlier tonight, I caught wind of a corn syrup storm brewing on twitter as I was hustling to prepare a 30-minute dinner in about 47 minutes. Mom-101 was being accused of being a mindless borg (the other night it was a douchebag, she just can’t win!) for criticizing those who would defend the
fake sugar people corn-processed artificial sweetener lobby.
Now, I wish that I could sit around the family dinner table with my dad (who died in 1998) and grandfather (also in the meat business his whole life, died in 2006) and really discuss factory farming, grass-fed meat, high fructose corn syrup, and the genius of Michael Pollan. Would they argue that “corn-finished really is better” or would they agree that chickens and cows are made to eat grass? Would they laugh off organic produce or embrace it? Would they tease me about being a chicken owner?
Since my extended family of die-hard Ohio republicans voted for Barack Obama in the last election, I suspect that they would see things my way.
But they would probably tease me about the chickens.