Another successful Meatless Monday in my casa has come and gone. My mom really engineered this one. The last time she was at Trader Joe’s the store was sampling a vegetarian faux chorizo mixed with salsa as a meatless taco filling, and she thought it was excellent, so she bought some. So we had taco night! She whipped up a modification of the Trader Joe’s recipe, and I made Mark Bittman’s recipe for Chunky Corn Guacamole. I’ve gotta say, I was so proud of m yself for making guacamole, because it’s one of my absolute favorite things in the world, and it was quite tasty. I guess guacamole isn’t really very complicated, but it’s sure a crowd pleaser. I made another Mark recipe to have as a supplement to the meal/possible taco filling: Brazilian Baked Black Beans. As written, this recipe turned out way too soupy. It was a nice addition to the faux-rizo in the taco, but wasn’t satisfying on its own. I’m going to try it really hot as a soup tomorrow–I think that will save it, or add a LOT of rice. Luckily there was enough other food on the table that the weakness of the black beans didn’t really matter. I’ll let you know how the soup turns out. But check out the beautiful, colorful table!
The tacos really were yummy. I insisted on corn tortillas, of course, and my mom got this really awesome tortilla warmer on sale today at William Sonoma. The faux-rizo REALLY tasted like taco meat. I was so impressed.
Having just read Fast Food Nation, I wanted to spotlight the acute dangers of eating meat this week, as opposed to the chronic ones which I usually chronicle. I am referring to foodborne illness. This can be split into three important categories, I think.
- Food poisoning caused by contact of an animal’s intestinal contents (read: shit) with the meat at some point during slaughter and processing. This poisoning may include sickness that lasts for a day, a week, or ends up killing you. The statistics regarding cases of food poisoning and resulting deaths are astonishing. “CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.” Consuming industrially farmed and processed animals puts you at much higher risk for poisoning by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli 0157:H7 and salmonella. Safety regulations in meatpacking facilities are nowhere near where they should be to keep people safe, largely because of lobbying by the industry to keep regulation minimal. Animals that are too sick to walk into the slaughterhouse (“downers”) will be slaughtered and packed for sale anyway. Meat isn’t tested at regular intervals for dangerous pathogens. Companies will recall tainted meat once it’s already made people sick, but usually it’s too late to prevent serious problems and usually they don’t recall enough. By the way, safety regulation for meat served in schools isn’t any better than meat sold to the public.
- Infection caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the meat. As I explained in a previous post, the typical continual dosage of antibiotics in livestock’s feed encourages breeding of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can be terrifyingly unstoppable if and when they cause disease in us.
- Viruses that travel between species as a result of humans interacting with sick animals. For instance, swine flu was so named because it was originally confined to pigs. Close interactions of pigs, poultry, and humans can encourage multiple mutations of a virus to survive between species. What is humans’ number one interaction with pigs and poultry? Animal agriculture! The way factory farms are set up, it’s impossible to keep disease from spreading and causing an epidemic. And I know this really isn’t an category of food borne illness (I don’t think you can get the virus from eating the meat?), as it’s caused by humans contact with live sick animals, so this would be a political reason not to eat meat, as opposed to an acute health one. That is, unless you work at a factory farm.
I of course acknowledge that sometimes raw vegetables spread food borne illness as well, but it’s a much, much lower risk than with industrial meat.
If you are going to eat meat and eggs, please take all safety precautions no matter where it comes from, and know that it’s at your own risk. The food industry has yet to step up and take responsibility for the safety of its product, which I find unacceptable. These are illnesses and deaths that are probably 99% preventable.
Knowing all of this, wouldn’t you go for spicy faux-rizo instead of Taco Bell?