When Is It Time To Make A Change?

When Is It Time To Make A Change?

by Christy Diane Farr

 

Several years ago, I ended a very rocky off again/on again relationship. I  quit eating meat. A couple of years later, my daughter decided she didn’t want  to eat meat anymore either. My wife, who never ate much meat anyway, followed  suit too.

My charming son, who previously preferred potatoes and pasta to animal  protein, no questions asked, has now declared himself the resident carnivore –  the proud and mighty meat eating man of the house. I suspect the renewed  commitment to meat consumption reflects his quest to define himself, the lone  male, in a household with three girl people, three girl cats, and one neutered  boy cat, who he tells me “does not count for the boy team, because we had him  fixed”. So, testosterone driven or not, we support him in his life as a  meat eater, and he supports us in ours.

Several months ago, I gave up crack, I mean sugar… again. After more than two  years without the poison, I’d “relapsed” and felt sincerely mortified to find  myself deep in the throes of a toxic relationship with it once again. That is  always a good sign that you should stop eating something, when you realize that  you not only have a “relationship” with a food, but that you describe it as  toxic. Never a good sign, but if there is uncertainty, look for other  signs you need to give it up. For example, how often have you had a hysterical  fit of crying and screaming because someone used the last of the milk, without  warning you or replacing it, leaving you with a dry bowl of Fruity Pebbles? If  the answer is more than zero, you might want to give it some thought…

While I have no energy for the debate about whether one can be “addicted” to  sugar or not, my relatively recently established policy prohibiting “toxic  relationships” forced me to put down the spoon and walk away from sugar for  good. Yes, I miss cake but there really isn’t anything that tastes better than  sanity feels. I’ve resisted forcing my dietary choices on my family and friends,  perhaps excessively so, and the living by example thing works slower than I ever  imagined. It’s just me, living sugar-free, and while it is a difficult choice at  times, I live with certainty that it is best for me (and everyone who encounters  me).

Do you know the feeling that comes to let you know it is time to make a  change? It is a message that bubbles up from deep within, or sometimes the  universal brick to the forehead,  that the time to act is now. Sometimes they  are strong enough that by simply receiving it, we feel the strength and  certainty to move into alignment with it. These are powerful moments and I’ve  found that by taking action when the time is right, I have what it takes to  actually do it.

Well, not long after I released sugar,  I heard that the time had  come to make two other big dietary adjustments – releasing dairy and gluten.  I’ve done these two before, just long enough to know that my body wasn’t  responding well to them. I knew it would come eventually, but when word came  that it was time, I freaked out.

Immediately, the voice in my head started explaining how hard it is to give  up wheat, to give up dairy, to give them up in addition to sugar, to give them  up when I don’t eat meat. It told me that this was absolutely unreasonable. It  told me how this would be better to do later.

The good news is that I am impressively tenacious.

(“Tenacious” is the post-therapy translation of childhood labels like  bull-headed, stubborn, cantankerous, unmanageable, and just plain bitchy.)

I won’t listen to anyone, even  the little voices in my head, when I can  discern they are coming from a place of fear. Part of me felt afraid that these  changes would be too hard. Part of me certainly — and perhaps even reasonably —  felt afraid that I wouldn’t know what to eat or how to prepare my food. I was  afraid because I sincerely wanted to make these changes and that meant it  would  hurt so badly if I failed.

But all of that is about fear and we already know that nothing of value ever  comes from fear.

So, here’s the deal: I am a catalyst. I write and teach because these are the  gifts I possess to help me blow up obstacles to personal freedom — both in my  life and in yours — because that’s what I believe I was created to do. With that  in mind, what  I’m trying to tell you is this: Once you hear the whispers (or  feel bricks) about making changes in your life, the time to take action is now.  Period.

When you feel the energy surge, that’s your sign, jump on and ride it all the  way. Do whatever it takes to cultivate the health, sanity, creativity,  abundance, love, or whatever else you need and desire. That’s how this works.  And when you commit, the universe will rush in to support you. You’ll receive  the your life equivalent of friends who are masterful vegan cooks to  teach you how prepare what you eat now, Kundalini Yoga classes to help you heal,  and too-tight favorite blue jeans to remind you why you care about making this  change.

While I could write, at remarkable length, about the merits of sugar-free  food, being a vegetarian or vegan, food sensitivities, respecting an 11 year-old  boy’s need to carve a space for himself in the world by eating meat, and the  healing power of self-love, that is not what I want you to hear in this story  about what’s changing in my world.

Instead, I’m writing to ask you — plain and simple — to listen when your  intuition speaks to you. Regardless of what healing journey writers like me are  sharing with you, or what your partner/boss/mother/society believes you “should”  be, I’m asking you to find your own answers. What does your body need you to do?  What does your soul long for? What are the personal and professional dreams  waiting for your attention?

Listen to the beautiful voice inside your heart; the tender one who whispers  about your strength and your power; the one who knows, intimately, all the best  parts of you and who remembers the reason for your life on this earth. When that  voice says it is time, listen… act. Your life is waiting for you.

 

Common Ground: The Most Practical Meat to Eat

Common Ground: The Most Practical Meat to Eat

by Eric Steinman

Ground meat has gotten a bad rap of late, and deservedly so. With reports about “pink slime” dominating the headlines, along with the various pathogen outbreaks from ground beef contaminations, and the fact that a single pound of conventional ground meat is barely traceable back to its source (likely originating from 100+ animals spread over six different states), there is substantial reason to avoid the stuff (even if you are not a vegetarian or vegan). However, for the intrepid meat eater who is not deterred by such findings, ground meat is one of the most inexpensive, flexible, and a more ecologically wise choice than those more pricey cuts of meat.

This is at least the opinion of Brian Halweil, the editor of Edible East End and publisher of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn (and a colleague of mine) along with Danielle Nierenberg, the director of Nourishing the Planet. Both co-authored a recent New York Times opinion piece on the subject of ground meat being the “kindest cut” of meat available. The logic behind this argument is, once an animal is butchered and the popular cuts like steaks, chops and roasts are utilized, the rest of the meat is ground — 26 percent of a hog, 38 percent of a beef cow, 41 percent of dairy cows and 46 percent of lambs (science has yet to figure out how to breed a cow that is comprised of only filet mignon). Because such a high percentage of what is left over can only be ground for consumption, eating ground meat becomes a more cost efficient and practical way to consume the whole animal. As the article states, “In the same way that nose-to-tail butchery can save a household money, buying ground meat can encourage small-scale, diversified livestock farming, since it helps supplement income from the pricier cuts.”

But what about all of the pathogens, pink slime, and health risks that are associated with ground meat? Well, if you purchase and consume conventional feedlot ground meat, you are taking your chances and decidedly contributing to all of the problems that go hand-in-hand with feedlots, the mistreatment of animals, etc. However if you purchase grass-fed, local, and/or organic meat from a small (or environmentally and ethically responsible) producer, you are more likely to be consuming a safer and higher quality product (albeit a bit more expensive one as well). Still, eating meat is not for everyone (nor should it be) and the production, and harvesting of animals remains the most energy- and resource-intensive ingredient in our national diet. So if you have to have that meat fix, you are better off not paying top dollar for some top round trucked in from who knows where, and instead, source out some ethically- and environmentally-raised ground meat that utilizes the entirety of the animal.

If you are not a vegan or vegetarian and actually have a taste for meat (and are not boiling mad at this point) do you think you could be convinced to drop the steak and go ground? Is the low cost nature of ground meat unappealing to you?

Not-So-Local Meat

by  Eric Steinman

 

Last month I was witness to an illegal pig slaughter. I should probably  clarify this statement on all fronts. This slaughter (or “harvest” as people who  raise livestock like to call it) was not done in a back alley, like a pit bull  fight, nor was it done to satisfy some collective bloodlust or desire to inflict  pain. The slaughter was done for a select group of butchers in training (and me  as the sole journalist), and expertly conducted by a highly skilled butcher, who  had been doing this for over 45 years. The pig was slaughtered on a farm and, to  my eyes, was slaughtered in a way that was about as humane and judicious as one  would hope for. The thing that made it illegal, or technically sub-legal, was  that there were no USDA inspectors present, nor was it done at a USDA-approved  slaughterhouse. All of which made this meat unsellable to the public (instead  the pig was going to be consumed by friends of the farm owners) and beyond  showing the mechanics of an animal slaughter, revealed that simply raising  livestock for slaughter is a complicated, and often costly, endeavor.

While many of us omnivores like to think our grass-fed, pasture-raised, meat  is hyper-local (the lucky ones among us can actually locate such farms on a map)  the fact is that while your meat may have been raised within a few miles of your  grill, it wasn’t likely slaughtered and processed anywhere close by. The fact  is, because of USDA standards (which most agree are very necessary) most  livestock intended for human consumption are trucked, sometimes hundreds of  miles away, to meet their maker, which raises the carbon footprint of the pig  and cattle and often causes undue stress.

While there used to be numerous slaughterhouses around the country within the  farm country where these animals are raised, those numbers have dwindled  greatly, leaving very few facilities to address the demand. According to an NPR report, over the past few decades slaughterhouse  consolidation has left small-scale producers scrambling. Just four corporations  slaughter about 80 percent of the cattle in the United States. Many facilities  now only process large numbers of animals at a time, and will not allow ranches  to bring in – and get back out – the same animals. This obviously impacts the  issue of quality control to a great degree.

While some in the slaughterhouse industry are doing their best to address the  problem, with small-scale slaughterhouses popping up in Washington state to  handle the backlog of animals, a great deal of creativity and funding is needed  to contend with this issue. The rise of mobile slaughterhouse units, which is  USDA subsidized and used for very small scale processing of animals on-farm,  shows promise. The cost is prohibitive (upwards of $300,000 a piece).

There is seemingly no real answer or solution to this mounting problem, and  it is a costly problem for struggling farmers who just want to keep their local  meat local and affordable. The hope is that consumer demand for local,  pasture-raised meat, with a clear point of origin, will drive innovation toward  a more sustainable model.

Do you know where your meat comes from?