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Trendsetters

According to an article in Bloomberg, American eating habits are leaning away from beef and toward “climate-friendly” meals.

The article cited a posh Manhattan restaurant that is adopting a meatless menu and mentioned how the cooking site Epicurious has decided they will no longer post new beef recipes. Colleges, it said, including Harvard and Standford are making menu changes to reflect the move away from beef.

Aside from my obvious bias as a member of one of the state’s 12,400 cattle-producing families, I’m troubled not by the so-called shift but because it appears to be a notion popular among the elite.



I taught school for about 15 years and in that time, I taught hundreds of kids who experienced food instability. I don’t mean the kind of hungry that my daughter refers to when she stands in front of our open pantry or fridge and announces there’s “nothing to eat in this house.” I’m talking about the kind of hunger that keeps kids from being able to concentrate during the day. I’m talking about the kind of hunger that I can only imagine creates stress and uncertainty at a level that will affect their health. I’m talking about the kind of hunger that makes kids dread summer break because it means no school meals.

I’ve written about and told the story of a mom who scrounged in her wallet to pay for an onion and a loaf of white bread in front of me in the grocery line. I squandered the opportunity that day to pay for the groceries I had in my cart and load them into her car, the one her young son was jimmying the battery cable on in the parking lot. I think about that story every day.



I’ve also written extensively about the frontline ag workers who were top of mind during the height of the pandemic. If doing away with beef is en vogue, and even more frightening if Initiative 16 is passed forcing the fall of beef and lamb processing here, those same workers will be facing layoffs. That doesn’t even take into consideration the effects on all other segments of agriculture. The irony of taking food of the table of the frontline workers who work hard to put food on our tables ought not be lost on any of us.

There is no more personal choice than what people decide to put in their bodies and I respect that. Because we enjoy a safe and abundant food supply and food security, we have the luxury to choose whatever type of menu best reflects our beliefs and desires. However, that does not allow anyone to force their currently trending beliefs upon others.

There is no reason that two animal rights extremists should be able to force veganism and financial destruction on an entire state because they don’t agree with agricultural practices. There’s no reason fancy restaurants ought to poo poo beef while their employees are busting their tails to make ends meet. There’s no reason a safe and affordable product that fills kids’ tummies should be damned in the name of trendy fads that ignore science. We- all of us who live removed from white table cloths and Harvard University- can do better and take pride in continuing to feed our families and our neighbors because that will never go out of style.

 


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