Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CBC is a Superhero

So, yesterday evening I had a quick conversation about this blog and these ideas with a good family friend, and she mentioned not really always being able to follow what I'm on about. Which I think is fair: I'll be the first to admit I occasionally do lose sight of the forest through the trees; I sometimes have a hard time communicating what I want, and sort of leave out the important details.

But, once again, thank goodness, CBC has rescued me from myself. I was driving over to the LCBO this evening and had on the radio, and it being after 9 Paul Kennedy's Ideas was on and guess what?

They are currently running a 3-part series called Have Your Meat and Eat It Too, all about factory farming and the food system!

So for those of you who have been tempted to read the book I've been plugging but cannot quite bring yourselves to buy a copy/ sign one out of the library / root around at Value Village / ask to borrow mine, you can get the meat and potatoes (!) of what I've been saying in only 3 short hours of listening! Carpet sweep your house, put your laundry on the line, make some non-bolognaise spaghetti sauce, and tune in to this program. It's kind of like a greatest hits of The Way We Eat. It's excellent.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


woohoo! veganism experiment 2010 is over! woke up salivating. bacon and eggs! milk in my coffee! meat and milk coma!

so... I made organic fair-trade coffee and had *real milk* in it. Scarfed down some of the formerly banned "salt & pepper" (and milk) peanuts while cooking the half-pack of extra-thick bacon that had been languishing in the freezer for a month, used the fat to cook 3 large farm-fresh local organic eggs, fried up an organic tomato, and then served it with salsa, a sprig of fresh basil, and some unbelievable Scottish T&T Shropshire blue cheese.

Funny thing, though (besides the actual haze I'm struggling through right now... coma coming on good and strong), I felt quite weird about the eating all that animal product again. It actually occurred to me that I could probably go vegan permanently, should I wish. I lasted a month, and though I didn't try very hard to get into the cooking, I'm sure it would get easier and more tasty.

So I think I'm gonna go middle-of-the-road; nothing like being lukewarm and sitting on the fence: I'll be a vegetarian. I loooove cheese too much and have an excellent source for local organic "ethical" eggs, and our grocer sells lots of organic milk products, many of them local since we have no less than three big dairy producers within less than 50km. It's not the perfect solution, but I think it's one I can sustain, which I really don't think is true of being vegan, particularly in a house with two other non-vegans.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the skinny on this vegan thing

So look, I haven't really explained my vegan madness here, at least not on the blog. So I thought maybe it was time.

The authors of this book I've cited (The Way We Eat... - which, btw, I picked up haphazardly for $4 @ Value Village) point out a number of what for me were very salient points:
  • organic beef, which treats the animals better than factory farming, means they get to eat grass and hay and roam large swaths of pasture. However, cows that eat grass and hay actually produce more methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2 (, and in giving them room for pasture, they use way more land than factory-farmed animals
  • eating local (particularly local and out of season) can actually cause more damage and use more energy than getting stuff from overseas. Example 1: Californian rice - in fact, it takes much more energy and much more water to produce rice in North America than it does to grow it in, say, Bangladesh, and ship it over by sea. Example 2: greenhouse-grown local tomatoes use tons of energy to heat the greenhouses, and tons of water to irrigate.
  • farm animals produce lots of waste. The more of us there are eating meat and cheese and eggs, the more waste gets produced, and that waste ends up running off into groundwater, into lakes and streams, into rivers and oceans. It can also contaminate those self-same animal products.
  • cows consume 5 times more than people, so if we stopped eating beef and used that land to grow crops for human consumption, we'd actually have a lot more food! (see "where's the grain?" in this Cornell study from 1997) essentially, if we stopped eating animal products altogether, we'd put a lot less strain both on the food system and on the planet. It really is difficult though! I now weigh 213.6, which means I've lost 2.4lbs in two and a half weeks. Great diet plan, I guess, though this was not a goal of mine. I don't really like tofu, though meatless burgers are okay, and I've made some headway on nice vegan main dishes with things like potatoes, green beans, pasta, and rice. It's going okay. I can imagine just keeping on going; it certainly does get easier, but it's still a bit of a struggle.

Preview: Global TV tonight began a new series based on the now famous 100-mile diet. It actually looks even more difficult than going vegan. My wife wondered aloud whether this was my new quest... so this evening I spent some time Googling local sources of flour (or maybe bread? pasta...?), dairy (can't wait!), and coffee (no dice. argh), and I'll have a look around for locally-sourced beer (luckily we live right near one of the world's great wine regions) and yeast, and we actually already have connections to local produce, local honey, local chicken, and local eggs. So maybe come August 15th...? I'll keep you posted.