Archive for February, 2009

I love meat–bacon, lamb, beef, and even ostrich. I will never be one of the “atarians”…vegetarian, pescatarian, ovovegetarian, etc. But, I just can’t bring myself to eat sad, sick and infected animals.  

My brain’s been a bit fuzzy this morning after my evening of whiskey and wine, and I just can’t focus on my teacher’s descriptions of kidney failures and transplants. So, I began browsing the Gastronomic Sciences: Food for Thought Journal  and settled on reading The End of Food by Paul Roberts. Although the article was lengthy, overly factual, and somewhat depressing, it provided a historical review about our food system, and discussed modern methods won’t be adequate for much longer.

According to Roberts, our food system is defunct. The meat industry found ways to breed lifestock to grow larger and age quicker just so we could have cheaper meat. Yes, this new method prevented hunger and gave nations a surplus of food, but at what cost? Our food system is currently struggling, and our future doesn’t look much brighter.

Consider this…

On average, it takes 8 pounds of grain to produce a single pound of meat. As meat consumption rises—and by 2050, world demand for meat is expected to more than double—the amount of grain we will need will increase by more than half. That means more land (which we don’t have), more crude oil (prices are on the rise), and more water (future farmers will need 17 percent more water than the world now has available).

And, consider this…

“The so-called ‘factory farm’ method for mass-producing meat—in huge feedlots containing tens of thousands of cattle, hogs, and poultry—has helped drive down the cost of meat, but has also created many threats to public. According to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, these huge feedlots, or ‘confined animal feeding operations’ (CAFOs) produce huge volumes of sewage, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Worse, because animals are crowded closely together, CAFOs also promote diseases, which has led to the overuse of antibiotics. This overuse, in turn, has produced bacteria that are now resistant to those same antibiotics. At the same time, the corn-based diet that is fed to many CAFO animals results in meat of poorer quality and higher fat content. And because livestock consumes so much grain—remember, 8 pounds for every pound of meat—we’re converting more and more of our forests into grain farms in order to feed livestock, ” Roberts claims.

Where do we go from here?

The Solution is easy– transform the meat industry into a sustainable entity: grass feed cattle, breed healthy cows that don’t need antibiotics, and for heavens sakes don’t feed them soil packed with synthetic nitrate fertilizers. So why can’t the meat industry do this? Because, meat may cost at least $1 over current meat processes. Yes, just one George Washington per pound of meat would give Americans sustainable meat from happy cows. These sorts of articles depress me because I wonder if our nation will ever realize cheaper products and high profits don’t last forever. Our nation will pay a price for the shortcomings of our food industry if we don’t recognize our faults soon. I just want to eat happy cows…


PS. Try reading Eric Scholesser’s Fast Food Nation for even more insight to America’s meat industry


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Daivd Foster Wallace, one of the greatest writers of our time (according to my friend Justus) penned Consider the Lobster in August, 2004 for Gourmet Magazine. I first read this article one week ago, but it has been on my mind ever since. Not only is the writing witty and entertaining, but thought-provoking as well.

Whether your memories of lobster are from fine dining establishments complete with drawn butter over an open flame or Wal-Mart’s display of the terrified, sickly lobster…this article shines a new light on this glamourous American entree.  Walllace will have you laughing, shuddering, and questioning your whole outlook on food. Bravo!

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As the end of the month nears and the funds in my bank account dwindle, I always plan my creations around what’s in my fridge. On Monday I had the following: veganaise (egg and dairy free mayo), carrots, relish, shallots, mustard,  and chow chow relish.  My cupboard also had freshly baked cottage dill bread. My  food dilemma solution…tuna salad. So, with the ingredients I had on hand and the few I picked up from the market, I created  this not-so-traditional version of the classic tuna salad.


My Version of Tuna Salad- photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

My Version of Tuna Salad- photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew



Tuna, Garbanzo Bean, and Vegetable Salad

2 cans of tuna in water, drained

1, 15.oz can of garbanzo beans

1 large carrot, diced

1 small red bell pepper, diced

1 small zucchini squash, diced

1 shallot, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1.5 tsp. dill

1 tsp. onion salt (add more to taste)

2 Tbsp. relish (I used a mild Tennessee Chow-Chow)

1 Tbsp. yellow mustard (This step can be left out if you want a sweeter tuna salad)

1/2-3/4 cup of veganaise or mayo if you prefer (add to your desired level of creaminess)

Mix all ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over a bed of mixed greens or between two slices of bread. My favorite method to serve this easy, tasty salad is sandwiching it between two slices of dill bread with chopped grape tomatoes.

Since I haven’t eaten all the tuna salad, I can’t accurately give the amount of servings it yields, but I’m guessing about 8, 4 oz. (1/2 cup) servings

* Remember this is how I like my tuna salad.  Feel free to change the amount of any incredients or incorporate your personal favorites such as  hard-cooked eggs, apple chunks, raisins or walnuts. Let me know if you have any other suggestions on how to jazz up tuna salad.

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“You don’t get dessert until you clean your plate.” This was the dinner table mantra of my childhood. Not only did I have to produce a crumb-free plate, I also had to polish off a rich glass of whole milk.  But why are so many parents, including my own,  set on their children becoming lifelong members of the clean plate club? It goes back to the years of our grandparents, when the Depression left families worrying about food security. They cleaned their plates because they didn’t know when another satiating meal would arrive. Although these tough times taught valuable lessons of frugality and appreciation, the legacy of engorgement, especially in fatty or high sugary foods, emerged. And that leads us to the present,  a generation where parents are still teaching their children to overeat, even though food security is no longer an issue, because that was the golden rule concerning breakfast, lunch and dinner. Probably the most enticing one-liner parents have up there sleeves is, ” Now, be sure to eat all of your food because there are starving children in Africa.”  Perhaps parents should say, “Just eat until your full honey because there is an obesity epidemic in America.”

The whole notion that we are a nation founded by clean platers struck me today during my lifespan nutrition class. Unbeknown to me, humans are born with the physiological ability to recognize satiation (or fullness). The human body tries to protect itself from consuming more calories than it needs, but this self-regulating mechanism is virtually destroyed during the toddler and preschool years.  It is vital that parents in the US boycott eating practices that preach engorgement rather than promoting fullness. Feeding environments should be loving environments where parents recognize and positively respond to their children’s hunger cues. This seemingly simple concept is a strong tool against the fight against childhood and adult obesity. 

But what about adults…are we too gluttonous to be saved? The answer is no, but it does take work. We must eat slowly, savoring each unique flavor and sensation. Portions should be small (dessert or salad plates help), and re-fills should only be dolled out when our stomachs but not our eyes are hungry. But most of all, we must learn to recognize when we are full or hungry. Over time, this will naturally reset our physiological satiety cues. My revolution about fullness and satiety came at the most opportune time, seeing that the Lenten season begins in just a few short hours, and I had yet to choose my method of self-deprivation. But I hereby declare to indefinitely resign my membership in the clean plate club.

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