Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sustainable gourmet

In a conversation with a friend (a chef) this weekend, he said "I think local is the new organic." I'd like to make sustainable the new local.

We're not as bad-off as Australia . . . yet. But we may be headed that way -- in my time in Kansas, I learned that the Ogallala aquifer (the source of water for all of Western Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma and parts of Texas and Eastern Colorado) is expected to run dry in 5-15 years. I learned that people are shot over water theft in parts of Colorado. I got scared. Coming from a wet area, drought wasn't really a factor in my life -- we had dry summers, but nothing too bad. Of course, now my parents have to conserve their well water in drought conditions, but that means only watering part of the garden each day. Not no-water-in-the-ground.

So where does gourmet come in? Where do we get our beef? Our corn? Where do our beef get their corn? I'm not against having cattle on the western plains; in fact, I think they're the most sensible thing to have out there. Grazing. Not eating corn grown on land that can't support it. Grass-fed beef? Not tender enough, according to some, but better than turning Nebraska into a desert. It may be best to plan your cooking, even your gourmet cooking, around foods that could be here in a decade.

Why Africa fears western (noun)

This editorial seemed to me sad, but not unexpected. You see, we've been mishandling our PR in Africa ever since the West decided to go there. Not just our PR, but the African people -- when we focus on imposing our goals and expectations or ignoring African goals and expectations, we create animosity. When we hold positions of power, animosity becomes fear.

What we need is a giant PR campaign, continent-wide, explaining that we're trying to help. At the same time, we need to actually try to help. Otherwise, more people are going to be convicted of harming Africans deliberately.

Monday, July 30, 2007

After long absence . . . debate!

I have been on a much-enjoyed vacation, but this article convinced me to come back to blogging (at least for now).

You see, with Farm Sanctuary being in Watkins Glen and my DVM alma mater being only 1 hour away, I treated some of these rescued animals as a vet student. They got extraordinary treatment -- months of PT for a calf, radiation therapy for a goat, exploratory surgery for a pig -- at extraordinary cost. People sponsored many of these animals, sending in money each month to ensure they never had to die without the finest of treatment. Many ran up bills in the thousands of dollars and up.

What are you people thinking????

For the money spent on cancer therapy for that goat, I'm guessing 20 families in Africa could have been provided with milk goats that would be loved, cared for, and given happy lives (while feeding the members of said families). For the surgery on the pig (which resulted in euthanasia due to an untreatable problem), 10 children in SE Asia could have been sent to school from the proceeds of a pig-raising operation. When did animals rank above humans?

I am concerned about animal welfare, and I believe the article makes some excellent points about the need to work together despite differences of philosophy, but I think groups like Farm Sanctuary have their priorities skewed.

This weekend, my parents and I had a goat roast for a group of my international friends. One member of the group who couldn't come emailed me, concerned about goat slaughter methods in Muslim communities. This is a reasonable concern (although proper halal slaughter is quite humane). My issue is with people who consider animals before people.

In my book, kids eat first.