Friday, May 1, 2009

Steps in the Right Direction

This week, I posted a link on my Facebook page about livestock farming's effect on our environment. The article was interesting and I wanted to share it with my friends. I've been trying to eat less meat, both for my health and for our environment, but, honestly, it isn't my highest priority. We had flank steak for dinner on Sunday and I bought deli roast beef for sandwiches this week. When I go to a restaurant, I do look at the vegetarian selections first and quite often I order one of them. Eating increasingly less meat is on my list of small steps in the right direction.

So, when one of my favorite professors and friend (who rarely comments on Facebook) commented back, "Need any more reasons to stop eating meat, especially cows? Here's a message from a friend working at the FAO in Rome studying animal production and global warming:Jeremy Rifkin nicely articulates the livestock GHG problem - he gets his most of his numbers from the FAO study that we are doing a follow up on: video. This, sadly, applies to cheese, milk, etc,. as well...." I went into a little funk. I was thinking about all of the things I learned in his classes about poverty and development around the world and how the choices we make have effects around the world. I thought about how he rode the bus and his bike from his home on Capitol Hill to teach in Tacoma. I thought of some of my former classmates who purposely do not own cars because of their negative impact on the environment.

I'd started reading Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes, by Mark Bittman, last week and decided to pick it up again. He advocates cutting back on meat and meat products, and provides recipes in the process. Reading Bittman's words, I started feeling better and started thinking about all of the things that I am doing to improve my impact on the planet.

Last week, I finished reading Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet, by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon. It really stuck with me how well they described the difficulty of balancing reality with idealism. They were already practically vegetarians when they started their local eating project; they were focused on eating healthy meals using products grown within 100 miles. This was not an easy task. When they finished the year, even as idealistic and dedicated as they are, they admitted that they would go back to getting a few items from outside their local area. So, with this in mind, and trying not to be snarky, I commented back to my friend, "Great. Well, I haven't had any meat for the last few days. One day at a time I guess. I'll just have to apply my "cutting back is a good start" philosophy until I'm ready to take the next step. We have been trying to eat mostly local meat and cheese, at least, of which we know the farms. And just soy milk. Made it through the last year only using biodiesel in my car, but definitely need to self ambulate more. Anyway. Thanks for your comment and the link...."

Today, I was still thinking about this, and still feeling guilty about some less than environmentally friendly choices I'd made lately, so I decided that I would start posting short blogs about what I am doing right. I'll write about the efforts that I'm making that I believe are steps in the right direction. Because I think that if we can each take a step in the right direction, acclimate, and then make another adjustment in our lifestyles, collectively we can make a difference. I am that idealistic.

As I was writing this blog, I went to Facebook to make sure that I quoted correctly. Lo and behold, my friend had added another comment, "I still buy a little prosciutto now and then. It's the Mark Bittman approach to reducing meat consumption." I almost teared up.

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