How I Eat Well: Meat

This is the first in a series of blog posts I'll be doing over the next few weeks about what it means to me to eat well.  I'm really interested in your opinions and how you try to eat well, so please email me or comment below!  Also, sign up at the bottom of the page to make sure you never miss a post.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I eat.  I'm so obsessed with it that I've actually succeeded in making it the subject of my college studies.  Sometimes I'm thinking about it from a more liberal arts perspective - how does this food make meaning of who I am and the place I live? How does this food feed my soul?  Sometimes it is political, environmental and scientific - what is the carbon footprint of this food?  What are the systems that produced this food?  Can people with less money than me also get this food?  Sometimes I'm just thinking 'How fast can I get this chocolate into my face?'  I'm only human.

I've recently been thinking about what I really want to say on this website where I scream into the vast Internet.  I want to talk about cake and chocolate and fun stuff, but I also want us to try to consider how what we eat articulates who we are.  I tried it out here, if you want to read past attempts.

I know that not everyone has the kind of time I have to devote to these questions.  I've literally taken like 3 full classes that basically grapple with nothing more than the question of what the f*** we should actually eat. And to be quite honest, I'm still not particularly confident that I have the answers.  I'm definitely not here to tell you what to do, but I do know that other people seem to wonder about this stuff and I thought maybe we could all talk about it.  Please, please let's talk about it.

I'm going to lay out my terms really clearly so that you don't think I'm trying to tell you that it is one size fits all.  It obviously isn't.  I'm just one person.  I have a fair amount of time to dedicate to cooking, plus I really enjoy it.  I'm not on the tightest of budgets.  I don't have to feed a family, and I also live in a place with almost unreasonable access to good food.  Food is also something I feel comfortable spending more on because it is my main leisure expenditure.

But I also want to encourage y'all to think about why it might be worth it to spend a little bit more. These questions are complicated, but I'm going to walk you through my thoughts and feelings.  Ready?  Let's talk about real shit.  

ate this and didn't feel at all guilty.  neither should you.

ate this and didn't feel at all guilty.  neither should you.

This week I’m going to write about meat because probably the most important thing I do in terms of my environmental impact is EATING LESS MEAT.  I could give you a lot of information about how bad it is, but I think a lot of us are really inundated with information about this, but have rarely seen conversations where we’re given help in thinking about how to be better.  If you’re not constantly inundated, send me an email and I'll give you some reading materials.

My biggest rule, like I said, is that I don’t buy a lot of meat to cook with so that I am able to pay more for the meat that I do buy.  I try to focus my meat-spending on meat that I trust.    Meat is really hard on our ecosystem and we're eating more and more of it.  Here are some articles about meat industry in North Carolina and elsewhere.  It is horrifying.  Let's do better.

Boss Hog:  The Dark Side of America's Top Pork Producer from Rolling Stone

Disgusting Practices:  Most Poultry Workers Can't Even Use the Bathroom from Huffington Post

North Carolina’s Poultry, Hog Producers Bail Out From Under Hurricane Matthew from the Wall Street Journal

Ok.  Calm down because I AM NOT TELLING YOU NOT TO EAT MEAT.  See the above as proof.  Ok?  I would never betray you like that.  My aim here is to start a conversation about how to eat meat a little bit better.  We are on the same team and that team is the We Eat Everything in Moderation team.  We have jerseys, so just let me know if you want one.

If you're based in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, you're super lucky because you have access to pork from Cane Creek Farms.  Cane Creek is run by a rad woman named Eliza MacLean (female farmers! feminism!).  The water in the creek that runs through the farm is CLEANER when it leaves the farm than when it enters.  This is pretty much unheard of because hogs produce a lot of waste and disposing of it can be really difficult, especially if the animals are full of hormones and chemicals.  Check out that Rolling Stone article.  

I'm fully down to pay more for her pork because 1) environmental sustainability, 2) women farmers are super cool and also pretty rare and I want to support women breaking the glass ceiling every which way, 3) the meat has no additives and more healthy fat aka it is HEALTHIER and 4) I'm investing back into the community that I love.  You can get her goods at the Carrboro Farmer's market from a cool and rad white bus.  Get their guanciale and make my favorite carbonara!  Her meat is also available in Saxapahaw at Left Bank Butchery.

If I’m not looking solely for pork, I really like Firsthand Foods, which is a Triangle-based fair/local/sustainable meat purveyor.  They sell their meat at places like Weaver Street Market and the Durham Co-op.  All their meats are pasture raised in North Carolina and use minimal hormones and antibiotics.  Again, I also like that I’m supporting small farmers and family business who have values I agree with.

If I can't afford the top of the top, or can't get to the farmer's market, or they don't have what I want, my next stop is Cliff's Meat Market.   The video above is made by the very cool Vittles Films and gives some info on the people working at Cliff's as well as the owner, Cliff himself.  Cliff has been selling meat to Carrboro and Chapel Hill for, like, ever.  He's super cool and friendly and will chat with you for tbh probably longer than you want to be in there but you won't even be mad about it.  He has also been on the cutting edge of hiring and supporting Latino immigrants, which I'm super down with. Partially that's because I want to eat the al pastor meat and chorizo they have, and partially it is because HUMAN DECENCY, ya know? That way, even if I'm not eating the meat that is the best for the environment, I'm still supporting a local business that has values I agree with.  Also the meat is really fresh, sometimes cheaper than the grocery store, and always fairly priced. I <3 Cliff and Cliff's.

And then sometimes I just buy grocery store meat.  It's fine.  I'm not trying to  guilt anyone.  I'm just trying to make us be a little more aware of what we eat and why it matters.  I think it's super important that we all do the best we can for ourselves and for the rest of the world.  It's gotta be a team effort.  Let's go eat some bacon.