Sustainable meat in Miami?

Yesterday I casually mentioned going back to vegetarianism on Twitter, and I got some responses! Arielle Castillo, music blogger turned chef, mentioned The Vegetarian Myth. I haven’t read it, but I’m familiar with the basic argument — that it’s ok to eat meat so long as it’s sustainably produced.

Sustainable meat means something fairly specific, described best in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I have read, and which I heartily recommend). It involves animals raised the way they would have been on small farms before industrialization — cows eating grass while fertilizing the ground with their manure, chickens eating the grubs that grow in the manure, etc etc. It’s markedly different from the factory farming that raises 99% of the meat available in the US. And — critically — the factory farming that raises 100% of the meat available in South Florida. Because the small farms that produce truly sustainable meat? They just ain’t here.

Feedlots — how practically all meat is produced in the world today.

Or maybe that’s an exaggeration? The chain Chipotle makes some weak claims to “attempting” to buy “some” of their meat from sustainable sources. I suppose eating there is at least a wallet-vote for more production like that. Then there’s places like Miller’s Organic Farm, which produces sustainable meat in Plantation for customers it deems sufficiently worthy. The application asks why you’re interested in their products and provides a box for a short essay answer. What’s going on here?

Maybe it’s the start of something. Michael Pollan started a wave of increased consciousness that’s slowly sweeping the nation, and places like Miller’s Farm are the tip of the iceberg. Maybe their bizarre buying model is based on their small quantities and slowness of retailer interest. Arielle tweeted later that she’s maybe working on a story about these farms, so let’s look forward to that.

Two things to mention before I end. The other book I should mention is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which is very well summarized in his article for the New York Times — as pasionate an argument for vegetarianism eating non-sustainable meat as you’re going to find. And lastly, forget “organic” meat. The stuff at Whole Foods labeled organic comes from the exact same factory farming system as non-organic food, except that those animals are fed “organic” corn meal instead of regular corn meal. They’re better, but only marginally, and they don’t address the basic objections raised in these books.

Posted: Thursday January 13, 2011 by Alesh Houdek · · Comment feed for this post: RSS, atom

 

Comment

  1. Adam    Jan 15, 08:30 AM #  

    While I don’t find the process of overseas shipping of food incredibly sustainable in the long run, Gaucho Ranch on NE Miami sells Uruguayan pastured beef. It is preferrable to CAFO beef from FL, in my opinion.



  2. Joe Trainor    Jan 25, 09:51 AM #  

    I agree it is worthwhile to find the sources of your food, meat, fruit, vegetable or dairy. My feeling is that you will have to drive out to the country once a month or so, and you should be able to find an organic farm that sells to the public. Here’s a link to the Eat Wild products Florida map, and they say they are soon opening a South Florida outlet.

    BTW, love your blog, crucial stuff! I have a green architecture and sustainable design blog I’d love you to check out, all comments and feedback appreciated.

    Keep inspiring people,

    Joe in Toronto



  3. Mike Moskos    Feb 7, 11:55 PM #  

    I think it is extremely easy to find “beyond” organic produce and meat/dairy/eggs/fish from non-tortured animals who eat their natural diet in Miami. That hasn’t always the case. But, you must be willing to pay more for raw ingredients because this food is produced on small, labor intensive farms. I’d buy it alone for the nutritional density and the animal treatment (not to mention the lack of environmental pollution and huge amounts of carbon capture), but on taste alone it is worth the price. It is real food; food that actually tastes like something. Food that doesn’t need a master chef using a host of ingredients and cooking methods to make it taste good. Even raw it tastes great.

    Miller’s (like similar food co-ops) has a strict club membership solely to abide by the peculiar laws we have asked our government to enact to protect us from the frequently unsafe “edible consumer products” sold in grocery stores. It’s just what we have to live with (unless you have your own land where you can have agricultural animals).

    Looking forward to trying Gaucho’s. . .



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