I have long held this philosophy that someone within the Girl Scouts organization is a freaking genius…
I mean, think about it – we allllll go on a diet on January 1. Even if you say you aren’t or that you don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, if you’re anything like me, you still sub-consciously try to do better – there’s just something about the new year.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that around January 15th, the little cookie goblins start showing up in front of every grocery chain and restaurant known to man… lookin’ all cute in their little brown and green outfits… and staring at me with those little puppy dog eyes, all full of earnest and whatnot.
And every year, I find a way to justify eating an entire box of Samoa’s for dinner.
It’s for the children, after all.
I’m not trying to discount the cookie goblins and their annual January trend – but there is another trend I could definitely live without this year...
Okay, first of all – I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again… if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, and you feel like that makes you healthier, then keep doing it. Good for you. I’m not judging you for that. But if you’re touting your position while purchasing $0.99 tomatoes at the store, I’m about to knock you off your high horse…
Most of the veggie-eaters I know do it because of the animal welfare conditions. And while that’s a totally worthy cause, and a seemingly logical case on its surface – it’s also very misguided.
The vegetable industry might not confine livestock to CAFO style living – but it routinely engages in modern day human slavery. Even here in the good ole U. S. of A.
Do you know why your store-bought tomatoes are $0.99/lb and the farmer’s market tomatoes are $3-5/lb?
There are a couple of reasons.
First – the big producers are the ones that the standards are set up to cater to. I’ve mentioned that we have to jump through the same regulatory loops as companies like Tyson to sell you chicken – even though nothing about our production models is the same.
This adds fixed costs to my bottom line that are spread over a much smaller pool. Higher fixed costs, means higher overall prices…
The local vegetable producers have to deal with the same double standard as the small, local meat producers.
Second – the local expensive tomatoes reflect the true cost of labor associated with growing those tomatoes at a living wage.
Also like the big meat producers – large vegetable growers routinely contract unskilled day laborers and offer significantly below minimum wage rates in the name of “payment based on performance”. The companies often engage in practices that are nothing short of predatory, picking up desperate migrants, and sticking these workers in cycles of poverty that they have no way to escape from.
And in many cases, these migrants are often the victims of Customs and Immigration raids, and subsequently deported – only to come back and fall into the same system in another desperate attempt for a better life.
Vegetable monocrops are just veggie-CAFO’s – and they’re devastating to wildlife.
Another way large vegetable growers get their costs down is through economies of scale.
What happens in these economies?
Massive plats of land are stripped so that humans can plant hundreds of acres of corn, soy, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and so on – and so is all the wildlife that used to live there.
Bees, rabbits, voles, etc. along with their predatory species – birds, coyotes, snakes, etc. – G. O. N. E.
These economies create environments where homogenous varieties of plants are grown in close quarters, making them susceptible to parasitic infestation and disease. While the solution to this in the meat industry is sub-therapeutic antibiotic administration – the vegetable industry relies heavily on herbicide and pesticide application.
So, when the bees, or the worms, or the birds that eat them come back to try to feast? They are poisoned.
How many animals are killed in vegetable production models vs. livestock production models? In my opinion, it’s impossible to quantify – and this is currently a very heated debate in the circles that I run in – but I can tell you one thing for certain:
If you’ve told yourself that nothing died for your soy-burger – I’ve got some ocean front property I’d like to show you…
I have also heard the argument that you can get everything you need from plants. And I actually believe that’s true. But so many times I have heard this argument from someone that separated that position in their logic that eating solely vegetables is better for the environment by only a sentence.
I believe that eating foods that are regional is a much more wholesome approach to the environment – and I’ll give you an example.
Many of the vegetarians and vegans I know rely on olive oil for fat. So, my question is - if I have to import olive oil from Europe, is it really better for the planet than getting my fat from raw milk from the dairy up the road?
That’s a serious question…
Our ancestors did not have diesel fuel – they didn’t import exotic fruits and vegetables – they ate what was local.
And in my region of the world – that means I can get the healthy fat I need from chicken skins, and pork chops. One of my brothers lives in New Hampshire near the coast – a great source of local fat for them is from fish.
Olives? They don’t grow here.
Our nutrition is directly related to the nutrition of the soil growing our foods.
One last point of note that I would like to make is about the quality of the soil itself. A study came out about a decade ago that showed we would need to consume something like 8 oranges just to get the same nutritional value that our grandparents would have gotten from just 1… J.U.S.T. O.N.E.
Plants are carnivores. They need to consume biological matter in order to produce healthy, high density fruits and vegetables.
What creates this biological matter in soil?
Poop… from cows… and chickens… and pigs… and even people…
But there’s no poop in these fields, because we stripped all the wildlife when we cleared the land to grow the vegetables – so year after year, we continue to deplete it.
And we try to make up for it – I mean, there are fertilizers galore on the market… but that just brings me back to the point about wildlife devastation. We tend to only count the damage we’re doing to the organisms we can see…
There’s so much more to dirt than dirt – plants have relationships with the fungi and bacteria in the soil.
Did you know that in just 1 tablespoon of soil there are billions of microscopic organisms???
The fungi and bacteria break down the biological matter for the plants – and the plants actually feed these organisms while growing. It’s really a beautiful cycle.
But what happens, is that when we apply fertilizers to the soil, the plants see that they don’t need the fungi and bacteria anymore – and they quit feeding them.
Those organisms die, and the nutritional value of our soil goes out the door with it.
The plants then need ever more fertilizer, because the man-made ones break down quickly, and the plants aren’t as efficient at processing them as they were in the natural cycle. And crop growers get stuck in a circle of inputs that they can’t seem to break away from.
Like anything I write, you can take what you want, and leave what you want – but at the end of the day…
Well raised meat trumps poorly raised vegetables every day of the week.
Now, excuse me, while I go to Tractor Supply and hope the cookie goblins have a table set up…
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