Friday, June 15, 2012
How I (Inadvertantly) Cut Beef Out of My Diet
It helps to be poor sometimes. Not poor in the Christ (or Buddha) sense of the term: collecting alms, food stamps, no booze. More like being poor in the young 20-something, artist/writer/early professional sense. Which is less Carrie Bradshaw and more like Jane Eyre, frugal and a little bit plain.
So one repercussion of being poor is I'm less able to afford to eat a lot of meat. Because meat is expensive. In comparison to vegetables, tofu and lentils, a pound of roast will cost you more than ingredients for a salad. And it won't last for as many meals. These days, I make a lot of soups, chilis and curries. Mainly because they last longer and I could stretch the $20 it took to buy myself those ingredients further. Meat is never the main course. Instead, it goes right in the pot with everything else.
So when I started cooking for myself, the taste of instant ramen from a cup soon lost its novelty. When you grow up eating fresh ingredients that were never boxed and stored for weeks, and you continue to make that the staple in your diet, it becomes more and more difficult to eat anything from a box. It gets worst as you get older and your taste buds become more discerning. It's not the overwhelming taste of cardboard boxiness. It's more like every mouthful is filled with preservatives and it's an unpleasant assault on your taste buds because it's artificial and it's not supposed to be in there. It's like having a foreign object in your body which does not belong, your body will automatically reject it.
The opposite is true. People who grew up eating McDonald's, or fried foods, hate the taste of fresh vegetables. Your body natural deviates towards what it's used to. Of course, one eating habit leads to more health issues than the other.
Initially, that was how it started. I had been eating freshly made meals (thanks Mom!) for so many years that after a while, I couldn't eat things in a box anymore. And then I watched "Food, Inc." Which I do not recommend you watching if you ever want to eat industrially produced meat again. Because it blows that door wide open on how our meat is produced, and the things that you were okay with, and would have been happier not knowing, are now no longer okay.
Then meat started tasting different, less natural and more artificial. My stomach turned in the same unpleasant way it does when I eat ramen (like I'm going to be sick). It may have been from "Food, Inc." and knowing the living conditions those chicken and cows were living in, with no room to move and injected with antibiotics that they only need because they're living in such wretched conditions.
Or, it may have been a natural progression of a fresh diet. I couldn't stand the smell and taste of regular meat anymore.
So I started buying organic chicken and organic, grassfed ground beef. I've recently started making my own salad dressing (balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and a whisk). Pretty soon, I'll be making my own stock and buying all organic produce. Which might be sooner rather than later, a whole organic chicken is cheaper than its individual parts. And there is one good thing about buying organic. You eat less overall. Michelle Obama would want it that way.