For a long time, we were a strictly vegetarian household. After taking a class on ecology and religion in graduate school, I swore off meat altogether after learning about how most of our meat is raised in America. What I learned went against everything I believed about God and creation: that God made creation good and that we were meant to be caretakers of it. After learning more about the health effects of some of the toxic foods we put in out body, I was even more convinced. If you want to know the scary truth about the meat that you are putting in your mouth, I would recommend 2 excellent movies: Food, Inc and Fresh. Both give a great tour of the meat industry in America.
That being said, our house is no longer strictly vegetarian. After my husband’s parents started farming chicken and beef (grass-fed and organic) on their Floyd County Farm, we started making an occasional foray into the world of carnivory. In the last year, we also met the great people who run Four Corners Farm who raise free-range poultry. Now, we eat meat about once a month. Quality meat is expensive: but you get what you pay for. Hormone, antibiotic and cruelty free meat from a local farmer costs more than factory-raised meat, but it is worth the extra cost. But how to afford this on a limited budget? Do like we do and eat less of it. Being mostly vegetarian is a healthy and budget-friendly option. Dry beans and whole grains are very cheap, even for the organic version. The humble bean is greatly maligned for its ability to produce noxious fumes in the human gut–but if you cook them properly and eat them often, they will do your body good. Of course, you can be an unhealthy vegetarian–we all know that the French Fry and Ice Cream and Potato Chips are vegetarian. Avoid vegetarian “products” also. If your veggie burger has ingredients in it that you’ve never heard of, it’s a good sign you shouldn’t be eating it.
So in the spirit of occasional meat-eating, here is a great recipe that includes whole grains, greens, tomatoes and ground beef into one delicious pot. The recipe is from Madagascar, so you can even brush up on your geography while you enjoy this lovely dish.
1 lb ground beef (organic and grass-fed– I used less because I didn’t have a pound)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger (I used a little more)
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 lb. greens (I used swiss chard, but you could use a bag of chopped frozen spinach)
2 cups brown rice
1-2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
8 cups water
Brown ground beef separately, then combine everything in one huge pot and bring to boil. Then reduce heat and cook on low until rice is done, about 40 minutes. Add water as necessary to prevent the rice from sticking.
I think you could also do this easily in a crock pot which would be completely hassle free.
This got rave reviews from my entire family and makes eating your greens quite easy. It is a complete meal in one pot. No need for any sides, although some whole-wheat cornbread would go quite nicely if you aren’t watching your carbohydrates.
So take a moment and think about what you eat. It is what you eat (along with exercise) that determines most of your health. Food is a powerful medicine. Educate yourself and make small steps toward a positive change in your life. Get to know some local farmers–we have quite a few in our county. Check out franklincountyfreshfoods.org to find out more.
Here’s to happy carnivory!