Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On The Menu: Food

I'm trying hard to get my head around a set of posts about food. I've scrapped two or three crummy attempts today. I feel the pressure to post so here.

It's what we had for supper Sunday evening. Minute steak from a southeastern South Dakota cow, butchered last fall. Lettuce greens, potatos and radishes from a farm (with a greenhouse) near Madison.

Don't see the radishes? They're baked in with the potatos.

This season, The MinusCar Household seeks to reduce the distance food travels from ground to stomach. There's a good argument that distance is less a problem than simply eating cows. That's fine...I have a feeling as the season progresses we'll be trying to eat so many vegetables before they rot that red meat consumption will decrease - drastically.

More on this later. Probably.


chiggins said...

There's a good argument that distance is less a problem than simply eating cows.

There's a better argument that the problem is grain-feeding. A grain fed cow not only consumes the fruits of petroluem agriculture, it gets sick doing it and needs to get loaded up on antibiotics. It also is in economic competition for that corn with the rest of the world, and now with the ethanol industry. None of that's good.

However, a cow that's grass-fed its whole life long is not only better for the cow, and better for you by a lot, it's also converting something that we don't eat or burn into a high-density nutritional package. And of course, you can't grass-feed cows on an industrial feedlot (I see that as a positive).

Cows take longer to raise this way, and the meat is more expensive. But eating beef that's raised well and locally, and less of it, is probably a good thing too.

That's my take on it anyway. Dinner looks good!

Garrett said...

A vegetarian diet is also healthier for you (although the amount that you ride probably compensates for a less than perfect diet). My wife and I ate a vegan diet for a month and it was enlightening. There are animal products in nearly everything and it takes a lot of energy to produce animals, while they provide a disproportionately small amount of energy when we eat it. We have all of the recipes we used during 'vegan month', if you want me to send you a copy, shoot me an email (sansauto at gmail)... some of them even taste good.

Eric A. said...

Instead of trying to eat all those veggies out of the garden before they rot. Get a deep freezer and some vacuum storage bags , or look into canning.
Then you can have your veggies all year long.

I to am interested in eating more locally grown foodstuffs. Living where we do, there is no reason why locally grown foods cannot be more readily available.

mytzpyk said...

All good points. Here is what I know to be true for myself. We have lettuce. At least three varieties of big leafy green things.

We must consume this lettuce before we find it inedible. We face the same problem with our radishes and green onions.

This means we MUST consume these things every time we eat. A big leafy salad twice a day.

Some might call my work lunches this week vegetarian. Others might think I'm eating awfully healthy lately. Some might suspect I'm saving money by not eating out. My mom might even be proud that I'm finally eating my vegetables.

Nope. I'm just trying to reduce the number of miles my food travels from the ground to my stomach.

mytzpyk said...

eayste - I am fundamentally opposed to adding an appliance to my home that consumes energy. Never mind actually purchasing one. I'm also fundamentally opposed to adding more plastic bags for storage to my life.

Besides, the goal is not to save this stuff. The goal is to eat it - lots of it. So much of it that I don't have space for some of the current crap in my diet.

Canning - yes...that possibility is on the radar.

Your interest in local food did not go without my notice. You are one of the factors floating around my head as I try to figure out how to write about food.

CDV said...

I understand not wanting to add an appliance but I feel my freezer makes me less dependant on food being transported. I buy a cow from a local farmer, have it processed at a local locker and then freeze it. I'm not kidding, I have been doing this for years. I also have started a garden this year which I'm planning on freezing a large amount of produce that I have grown in my own back yard.

jw said...

I need to toss my hat in with eayste and cdv about the freezer. It does consume energy, yes, but modern deep freezers keep my costs down and, I suspect, consume much less then relying on the system to do it for me. It doesn't help much in July, but in January there's nothing like having my own pesticide-free vegetables still on my table.

thE_kErnEl said...

freezers, yes
corn-fed beef, yessereebob!

Eric A. said...

cdv and jw make good points about freezers and food storage.
Modern freezers use about $20 worth of electricity a year. While there are costs and energy consumptions to think about with the manufacturing and transportation of these appliances to the market, in the long run , or thinking about this in a " big picture" viewpoint. Over the lifetime of not only the appliance , but you. You will have the capability of storing food that you grew locally , so the food doesnt need to be trucked in from Texas or California, and the fact , that was pointed out in another comment, you don't have to rely on a larger system to get your food. Not only is it self-reliance , but it is also substainable living. So balance in the initial investment and cost to run that freezer, plus the fact that you are getting out and producing your own food, in the long run, you are not only saving money, you are eating your own food. If you are worried about the greenhouse gasses from the production of electricity that is needed to run the appliance, remember that the plants that you cultivate will help neutralise that CO2 emmissions. Besides , in this area , and in the near future, I think we will have more wind generated electricity.
...thoughts to chew on.

Eric A. said...

Another note I forgot to mention about plastic bags and food storage.
You can use waxpaper, butcher paper , or aluminum foil ( or a combo of them )also to store things in a freezer, the trick is to make sure you get as much air away from the foodstuffs as possible, this prevents the dreaded freezer burn. Reuseable tupperware type products work reasonable well also. Keep eat'n those veggies! :)

I wonder how all those pioneers in the area , 150 years ago , got by without electricity ? :P

db said...

I wonder how all those pioneers in the area , 150 years ago , got by without electricity ? :P

Root cellars. Start diggin'.

Garrett said...

We tried canning last summer, but it was tough because our non AC house was blazing hot after a day with the stove on. Additionally, some stuff just doesn't can. We had hundreds of pounds of squash. While most of it lasted over the winter without any processing (we still have a couple left), I threw a bunch out because it was rotten. We tried canning some... Squash should not soak in water for 6 months before consuming, it is one of the most disgusting textures of sogginess I have ever seen. We cut up our squash and freeze it in ziplock bags. We do, however wash and re-use our ziplock bags until they develop a hole. I would love to get rid of the freezer, but for now it is worth the energy to have local organic food in January.

Eric A. said...

Thinking about what Veggies you plan on growing and consuming also..
Lettuce , potatoes , cucumbers and some other produce doesnt take well to freezing.
Onions , tomatos , zuchinni and some others do if you plan on cooking with them.
Given the amount of backyard you may have to grow things in, and not wanting to get anymore appliances.
Freezing , may not be your best option.

TL said...


sararah said...

I recently read in New Scientist that cutting meat out of your diet 1x per week is one of the biggest steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. I'm trying to start there at least!

Here's a link, although not to that exact story: http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19526134.500

Smudgemo said...

I started eating less meat about ten years ago, and now I hardly ever eat it. Crowding it out with vegetables is an interesting angle and seems like a win-win proposition for everyone but the meat industry.

I will concede that vegetarian options for eating while on road trips suck, but the way things are going, that probably won't matter much anymore...