Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday, May 12—A chicken in every pot?

Call me the master of the obvious. . .

Years ago, it used to be that chicken was special: roast chicken was fit for sunday dinner, and the promised "chicken in every pot" was a promise of affluence and comfort.

Fast forward to today. Now we appear to expect chicken ever day, and steak is what we serve to company (or see my previous post which refers to filet). We now know that beef represents a substantially greater impact than chicken does. Is it of concern that the goal posts seem to be moving? What was once special is now for every day, and what was once out of sight for most is now within the grasp of most, at least some of the time?

Hell yes, I say. No need to go into nauseating detail--the topic of what happens when China and India want to eat like we do (OK, steak will never be a hit in India!) has been covered elsewhere in more detail than I ever could. But it struck me that it's not only the "developing" world that is adjusting its standards. Ours are evolving, too.

Does that mean give up steak? Not necessarily, but choose it judiciously, and be well-informed. Know the economic and environmental context and consequences of what you do. And remember that, despite what some want you to believe, all steak is not alike. I am referring, of course, to the corn versus pasture thing (again). But even if you are a bazilloinaire who can afford to wipe your rear end with $100 bills, I think steak should be for special occasions no matter what. It's the sense that we are "entitled" to steak that has driven the market to make it ever cheaper. I don't suggest that it's bad to raise cattle for meat, and I certainly don't want beef to disappear. I wish all the success in the world to the Priskes, the Johnsons, and the Goodmans (who don't have a website for Northwood Farm). If everyone who raised beef did it to the standards these farms set, it would be way more expensive in dollars and way cheaper in karma and in environmental impact.

So if you like, enjoy a steak--pastured, of course. Cook it simply and well—quality steak cooked correctly is hard to beat, but treat it as if it is more precious than gold. In a sense, it is.