Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but lately I’m realizing more and more that there are many different solutions to a problem. I’m not the only one who’s “right” and maybe other people’s perspectives should be considered – crazy, ha?
Let’s take sustainability for example. In the process of raising money for my film, I’ve encountered some interesting feedback. Some “real food” leaders are just clearly blowing this off and just don’t care, which is unfortunate. Others are so stuck in their specific interpretation of a diet or what “sustainability” is, that they can’t possibly get behind the bigger picture. This is incredibly sad to me.
I live on an organic farm and eat mostly grass-fed meat from my backyard, organic vegetables from the fields, all cooked from scratch. Do I think EVERYONE needs to eat this way? Nope.
I’m also a dietitian, and work to help people improve their health. Do I think everyone needs to cook every meal from scratch in order to be healthy? Nope.
Are there some people who can eat gluten, dairy and the occasional (eek) dessert and be healthy? Yup.
So when I read a comment this morning on my Instagram feed, criticizing The Good Kitchen for not being sustainable because they ship their meals, it made me super frustrated. The fact is, most of my nutrition clients don’t cook every meal from scratch from grass-fed beef and organic vegetables, but they want to stay healthy. In fact, the Harvard Business Review reports that only 10% of Americans love to cook, while 45% hate it and 45% are lukewarm about it. People are busy. They don’t all live on farms and have tons of time to spend in the kitchen. Yes, we need to get people excited about cooking again, but we also need solutions for those currently avoiding the kitchen. (This is why I also love the Instant Pot!)
Yes, we should cut down on our use of plastic, but the person criticizing The Good Kitchen sells frozen meat wrapped in plastic. Now, I don’t insist people raise and kill all of their own meat and wrap it in burlap sacks, but a company that wraps meat in plastic, uses energy to freeze meat and gasoline to transport it is not a closed loop. If pre-made meals with ingredients from regenerative farms, shipped to someone’s door works for them, that’s great.
A similar argument has come up with the sale of Epic Provisions to General Mills. The fact is, it’s a huge challenge to be a small brand in a fiercely competitive market. General Mills invested $4 million in North Star Bison, a grass-fed bison ranch that sells 25% of it’s meat to Epic. This article highlights some of the benefits of that relationship, and states that “sales of fresh grass-fed beef soared from $17 million in 2012 to $272 million just four years later.” So while purists want everyone to shake the hands of their meat producer, others are doing great work on a huge scale. If we’re going to take grass-fed beef to the next level, we need larger companies to get behind it.
I had another situation with a leader in the “real food” movement not wanting to support the film because of a disagreement with another health expert’s opinion on “what is real food”. I see this all the time. Everyone likes to think their way is the “only way” and that they “own” their version of health, sustainability, movement, etc. Folks, this is crazy! The food movement has become like a religion where small differences mean nobody can support anyone else.
Now, I don’t have an issue with folks who choose to avoid all meat because of personal preference, but I do feel that everyone who believes in “real food” should be in the fight for better meat. Let’s face it, the world will not stop eating meat tomorrow, so ignoring the problem of factory farming by opting out or not being part of the conversation is not affecting change. I’m trying to bring everyone together to make change. Red meat is NOT the villain here, hyper-palatable processed food is. And while factory farming is clearly not a good solution, there are sustainable and more humane ways to produce meat.
So while everyone else is bickering about whose philosophy is “right”, or gossiping about who has the best abs, I’ll be over here trying to help fix the system. So whether you’re keto, paleo, primal, soak your grains, or avoid meat all together, please support others who fight for real food.