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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Looking Up, I Noticed I Was
Posted by Tata | 9:29 AM
Mr. Bittman addresses the choir:
We’re Eating Less Meat. Why?

I love him, but he writes this column once a month.

Americans eat more meat than any other population in the world; about one-sixth of the total, though we’re less than one-twentieth of the population.

But that’s changing.


...we spend a smaller percentage of our money on food than any other country, and much of that goes toward the roughly half-pound of meat each of us eats, on average, every day.

But that’s changing...

I fear change. And vending machines. And meat-filled vending machines.
...[The Daily Livestock Report] blames the decline on growing exports, which make less meat available for Americans to buy. It blames it on ethanol, which has caused feed costs to rise, production to drop and prices to go up so producers can cover their increasing costs. It blames drought. It doesn’t blame recession, which is surprising, because that’s a factor also.

All of which makes some sense.

This is not Mr. Bittman's finest moment in prose. I suspect scriptwriters for David Caruso, enemy of all things word-based, hijacked this column and are perpetuating a vegetarian Malkovich Malkovich on the New York Times. No? Okay.
No. It’s not the non-existent federal War on Meat that’s making a difference. And even if availability is down, it’s not as if we’re going to the supermarket and finding empty meat cases and deli counters filled with coleslaw.

Note: deli coleslaw is icky. That is a technical term. Continuing -
The flaw in the report is that it treats American consumers as passive actors who are victims of diminishing supplies, rising costs and government bias against the meat industry. Nowhere does it mention that we’re eating less meat because we want to eat less meat.

Yet conscious decisions are being made by consumers. Even buying less meat because prices are high and times are tough is a choice; other "sacrifices" could be made. We could cut back on junk food, or shirts or iPhones, which have a very high meat-equivalent, to coin a term. Yet even though excess supply kept chicken prices lower than the year before, demand dropped.

Another note: Xcez Chikn Supli would make a great band name. In Iceland.
I can add, anecdotally, that when I ask audiences I speak to, “How many of you are eating less meat than you were 10 years ago?” at least two-thirds raise their hands. A self-selecting group to be sure, but nevertheless one that exists.

In fact, let’s ask this: is anyone in this country eating more meat than they used to?

Assuming we're not talking to teenage boys and Survivor contestants, Mr. Bittman is still talking to people who read Mr. Bittman.

I love him, but in America, we now have Man v. Food Nation problem. Anecdotally, my friend's friend just had visitors from Italy, where I assure you people can cook, who wanted to visit places in which Adam Richman had punished his gullet and the food supply system. The whole idea is disgusting in a time when food pantries are struggling and soup kitchens can't keep up. Perhaps Mr. Bittman could take his pulpit to the Travel Channel, where his message of moderation has yet to take root.
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