I Only Eat Happy Chickens.
How much thought do most people actually put into what they eat? The “healthy eating” trend seems to be constantly gathering speed, and there are all sorts of “super-foods” out there, being marketed towards us as “healthy”. I have always had a keen interest in both food and health, and lately have discovered that a lot of the things I grew up eating aren’t very good for me at all.
When I lived at home, we ate meat every day, usually twice a day. This probably isn’t healthy, but that’s just how my family cooked. If a meal didn’t have meat in it it wasn’t worth eating. Well, after watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” (which I highly recommend by the way), it made me rethink my eating habits. The documentary talks about how unhealthy meat and dairy products are, and suggests everyone become vegan. Now, if you’re going to watch any documentary, you should do so with some skepticism. All documentaries state facts like it’s nobody’s business, and not all of them are necessarily true.
That being said, I’m practically vegan now, but not because of that documentary. Well, maybe a little bit. I stopped drinking milk right away. It has always upset my stomach, so that was an easy one to rule out. The only dairy I really eat now is in cheese. And I will never ever ever give up cheese. Cheese is so good…
Sorry, got distracted thinking about cheese. The next step that came my way was cutting out meat. My sister was on board, so when our parents retired and moved away for most of the year, we decided to try being vegetarians. It isn’t even difficult, as long as you make substitutions and don’t just stop eating parts of your meal. I feel better when I eat foods that are better for me. I also lost weight, fairly quickly. Those few stubborn pounds just disappeared, probably because I wasn’t consuming as much fat (there is a lot of fat in meat, even in lean meat).
Now that I’m completely on my own, I don’t eat much meat at all. Mostly because meat is really expensive here in Canada, and I now know that I don’t need it. I’ve told people that in the process of becoming poor, I’ve also become practically Mexican. By which I actually mean, I eat a lot of Mexican food like burritos and stuff because they are so easy to do, and taste awesome with beans instead of meat.
I decided tonight, though, that I want chicken for dinner. In the back of my mind, though, was scenes from the documentary “Food, Inc.”, which is more about how our food is made and where it comes from. One scene in particular was when they went into hen houses in the U.S.A., and showed how these chickens are being raised. They don’t see daylight, can’t walk because they are too fat, and are being covered with all sorts of chemicals to keep them alive. I realized that if I’m going to eat meat, I don’t want to support the types of farms that treat animals that way. I’m no animal rights activist or anything, but it just goes against so many of my values to exploit animals like that, and then kill them once they’ve lived their miserable lives.
I decided to only buy free-range chickens, and I buy organic whenever it is possible to do so. I’m a student, so this is tough on such a tight budget. But I save money in other places by eating a lot of dried beans that I cook myself, and buying spices in bulk.
The food system isn’t going to change if we continue to support the practices we shouldn’t be supporting, and learning about your food and where it comes from is a good place to start.
[If you’re interested in either of these documentaries, you might be able to find them on Netflix or the web]