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    • Chris

      Wow, what an image that is. I know food is an incredibly emotional topic, but I wish we could agree on one thing: modern industrial farms for raising chickens, cows and pigs are an environmental disaster.

      We have no way to dispose of the manure. It leeches into the ground water and is killing the Chesapeake Bay, for example. Not to mention the overuse of antibiotics, the soul-destroying cruelty to the animals and workers, the adverse health effects of meat and dairy that comes from those farms.

      In my dreams, we'd require that animals be raised like they used to be: in pastures. The price of animal foods would rise, we'd eat less of it, appreciate it more, and it would be better for us. And it would extend the life of our pale blue dot.

    • cvdavis

      I think lab grown meat will save us from this moral and environmental dilemma. It won't be long when we look back in horror at all the meat we humans once ate. I'm am guilty of being a meat eater and hope that future humans will judge me based on the cultural norms of my time.

    • gorudy

      The impossible burger is pretty tasty. I'm still a little uneasy at the idea of lab grown meat but i'm very uneducated here. If we kill the meat so to speak I may just stick to veggies and grains. and chocolate :)

    • Chris

      I'm pretty worried about meat substitutes like the impossible burger. The thing is, to make them taste and feel like meat, they replicated the large amount of saturated fat and lack of fiber that meat has. It's very much like the time we realized lard was a big contributor to heart disease, so we invented hydrogenated fats, convinced the nation that margarine was healthy, and almost 1 of 3 Americans continued to die of heart disease.

      The simple solution is black bean burgers which don't give you heart disease, but to people who love meat they're not as tasty.

      Photo credit: Antonis-Achilleos

    • gorudy

      You're 100% right, once you haven't had meat in a while (even two weeks) things like a black bean burger with avocado and a vegan mayo is delicious.

      I can't believe I just typed that. I've come a long way, I used to be the double cheese burger with bacon and egg on top guy.

    • bstrong

      A restaurant in my neighborhood just added the impossible burger to the menu! I’m going to try it since I’m mostly vegan (I still sneak in a little bit of cheese but that’s it).

      I’ll report back.

      🍔

    • gorudy

      In my group of male friends I've seen a noticeable shift from meat to more fish. I think the cheese / butter / dairy category is the hardest and last to be cut out.

      Side note: Cashew milk ice cream is soo good.

    • Roadrunner

      Grass fed and organic meats are already very high priced - without the extra taxing. We eat them, and yes - the cost does make one think twice. I tried going Vegan at one point, then had a doctor advise me to go Paleo for a while. I felt much better, and got rid of some "slow" food allergies by eating Paleo along with using food allergy drops. Going Paleo also made me look for wheat / grain and dairy alternatives, and that has helped a lot. I look at food much differently, though I've always been sensitive to trying to stay away from factory farm meat and dairy.

    • cvdavis

      Don't get me started about paleo and organic not being supported by the credible science based research. I'll just say that watching what you eat in general will make you eat healthier and reduce the total calories you consume.

    • Chris

      I have to give paleo credit for getting people to give up donuts, cookies, white bread and dairy. If their version of paleo also means lots of fruit and veggies, I think their health does improve and they feel better.

      As far as evidence goes, it seems that beans are in the running for the healthiest food group in a large number of the most credible studies. I never understood why Paleo bans them with its vague reference to phytic acid. There is a lot of evidence that just substituting beans for meat whenever you can takes health and longevity to the next level.

    • cvdavis

      Adding more fruit, vegetables and beans/legumes like you suggest is definitely a good thing. Paleo diets have been debunked but that doesn't mean that people who have gone on them don't receive benefits from some aspects of their diet changes. Just the fact that they are trying to improve how they eat is a positive thing that deserves credit but it's unfortunate that there are so many pseudoscientific scams and diets out there that take advantage of good people with the desire to improve their lives and those of their loved ones. The diet industry is such a minefield of misinformation and pseudoscience.

    • cvdavis

      What do you guys think of the idea of taxing sugar products like soda/pop? This started asking about taxing meat so I figure it goes. Let me know if it should go in a new post :) I'm personally not really sure about the whole taxing sugar thing. While there's evidence that soda accounts for a reasonable percentage of weight gain in people, I'm not so sure that simply taxing it and using the money for say an information campaign on the evils is such a good idea. Taxing it and using the money to reduce the price of fruits and vegetables? I'm not so sure about that either. Anyone have any deeper insights into this?

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      The diet industry is such a minefield of misinformation and pseudoscience.

      I think it's a follow-the-money thing. There's very little money in selling fruit and vegetables. They spoil. You can't charge more for your broccoli than the other farmers do.

      But Doritos. Oh man. You can engineer them with three artificial cheese tones to make them delicious. They don't spoil. You can patent the recipe and keep it secret. The ingredients are so cheap you've got plenty of monies for Super Bowl ads. You can brand the package. You can make them royal garlic shrimp flavor. Bolder, bigger, thicker.

      I saw the results of a survey done perhaps 10 years ago which simply asked people of many nations, what is healthy? Margarine was, on average, the third thing they said.

      It has no nutrients. It's partially hydrogenated oil. It's high calorie. No fiber. But it's so cheap and profitable to sell that the margarine companies could spend huge dollars touting it, and most people came to believe the health claims in the commercials.

    • sfcootz

      I eat meat but was vegetarian for most of my life so I agree with what you have written especially with regards to the treatment of the animals. I am fortunate to be able to purchase locally sourced, ethically and humanely raised meats when I want it. But I regard meat as a treat or an extravagance. I wish more people would.

      It's unfortunate that so many resources go into producing subpar food like McDonald's, et al., that aren't even very tasty and are sourced from big factory farms. I believe one issue underlying this is that many are disconnected from where our food comes from in the developed world. It's all neatly packaged or behind a glass case.

      I think my one concern would be the ability of the average working person or someone on minimum wage to afford meat when they want some if it were taxed. And even with a tax it would take some sort of cultural change to get folks to eat less and respect the animal and their meat more. When I was living in Turkey meat was something enjoyed but not eaten nearly as much as here. And it was not wasted. 

    • cvdavis

      sfcootz
      In Canada, boneless, skinless chicken is on sale at our cheapest outlets for $9.99 a lb. That's in Canadian dollars but still way more than in the United States. I would guess that 'encourages' people to turn to more vegan diets and/or crap food diets and reduces the need for a tax on meat as you've suggested.

    • sfcootz

      So, at a price that reflects the actual cost of raising the animal for slaughter? I may be mistaken and am not up to date on this but as memory serves, there are subsidies/ tax breaks that allow producers to sell meat cheaply here in the US. Maybe rather than a new tax corporate agriculture needs subsidies removed.

    • cvdavis

      I think there are multiple things going on in Canada and the USA. Although I'm not fully up on it at the moment I do know that the Canadian government protects Canadian farmers and thereby reduces competition while raising prices. Not sure what the situation is in the US. I could see one day meat having a carbon tax (or other tax to reflect the true environmental cost of eating meat)on it but there's a heck of a long way to go before something like that happens. Lots of lobbiests to prevent that happening and many people still not accepting that climate change is real. People like those controlling the USA government.

    • Chris

      For awhile I got fascinated by this, so I followed it closely. Our food policy in the US was driven by the economic hardships of the 30s when farmers were going out of business and there were food shortages. We decided to subsidize basic crops like corn and wheat that could be produced at scale and be stored for long periods of time. Those policies worked.

      Now we live in a time of plenty and the drive to produce cheap corn had the effect of also producing cheap meat.

      The policies worked so well that now we have a crisis of abundance. We want our citizens to eat fruit and vegetables to contain soaring medical costs, but there are no subsidies on them. It's hard to take back the subsidies on wheat and corn, so we're living with cheap donuts and hamburgers. That causes us to provide big health care subsidies to contain the staggering costs of preventable diseases like type II diabetes and atherosclerosis.

    • cvdavis

      Yeah you're right. There is also the residual problem left over from the government supporting an ethanol industry for fuel. That raised corn prices and didn't have much of a positive effect on the environment either. Because of the way the system was set up to protect the farmers who went all in on ethanol, it's going to take time to go back to not having ethanol in the fuel. It's really a disaster if you ask me but understandable that things like this happen because you can't foresee what science and technology will discover in the future and it's better to try things and make mistakes than do nothing. Ethanol gums up my motorbike engines for example and helps automotive repair places make more money fixing the problems but the environment is no better off for it. The environmental policies are now better served by other measures to reduce impact and to clean up the air quality. Subsidies are a tricky thing. They are necessary sometimes to help a domestic industry survive foreign competition but if they are maintained for too long then they actually make companies less competitive and waste tremendous amounts of money as well as keep things from moving towards smarter and cleaner industries. There are plenty of good ideas out there but it's time some people start taking a serious approach to educating the American people against the propaganda message of the mega rich that is pushed by the Republicans. I'd love to see a third party system develop in the US but there are so many road blocks to that. I think in the current climate - though unlikely - it's at least possible.

    • cvdavis

      Some say we should tax sugary drinks and snacks and use that to subsidize the aforementioned. We'll see what Chris thinks but I say we just need more educational campaigns to teach people about the benefits of eating properly - whatever that is.

    You've been invited!