Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Meat?

I'm not going to give up on Mark Bittman, because I love the man. 

I love his Minimalist column, I love his list of New Year's suggestions, I love his entire ethos, about cooking simply and inventively, especially in a small kitchen. 

In fact, the interview on NPR last week notwithstanding, I've been having a bit of a Mark Bittman moment lately....

- Coq Au Vin with Dried Figs
His recipe specified prunes; I had figs. It was fantastic (seen here with radishes and salad and bread). At its best coq au vin can be such a warming, silky, life-is-okay-after-all meal, and that's how this one was. 

Pasta with Anchovies and Arugula (see last post).
Delicious and easy cupboard cooking. 

Mussells a la Plancha...
...seared on a hot cast iron pan, and served in their own juices. Smoky and juicy and delicious!

Linguine with Clams and Tomatoes... 
Okay, I cut out the tomatoes (needed them for my kids' lunch) and threw in some arugula. But as called for in Bittman's recipe, I cooked the clams in a hot dry skillet, added chopped garlic and olive oil, and the not-quite-done pasta and a cup of pasta water, and finished it all together. (Okay, I added a knob of butter, too). 

Amazing! 


So I'm a diehard Bittman fan, and completely attached to the one cookbook of his that I have, which inspired all of the above dishes (Quick and Easy Recipes). 

BUT. 

He was on NPR last week pushing his new book, Food Matters. In the book, he calls for eating less meat and not really eating fish, largely for ecological reasons. He says he can't even recommend fish, ethically, considering the decimation of fish populations. And meat, he says, is completely ecologically devastating, considering the rain forest clear cutting that's going on, to make room for grazing lands. 

Okay, this all sounds good. It gets me where I'm weak. Yes, yes, yes, I want to save the earth. I am a despicable gluttonous American meat-eater and I am ready to repent. 

Except. 

First of all he's mostly addressing industrial farming, which is not where I get my meat and eggs. And he's completely glossing over the refined carbohydrate issue, which I believe is responsible for many of our current health problems. But whatever. I'm not going there. I know I eat too much meat. I know my daughter eats too much cured meat, which is really bad. I agree with him that we should eat less meat. 

But here's the problem: what are we going to eat?

Um, it's winter? So, his recommendation that we eat more vegetables...? Like, which ones?

At the Coop, where I shop, they list the mileage traveled by most of the produce. It's all 100 miles, 500 miles, or else "Chile", or the sinisterly vague-sounding "USA". 

I shop based on these labels. I want to save the earth, right? Not be trucking and flying my food in from halfway around the world?

So this is what's local in New York in late January: Delicata squash (not even butternut or acorn, which are from the 'USA') (and which, every time I buy it, my dog and I are the only ones in my house who eat it) and apples. That's pretty much it. Even the brussells sprouts and the kale are from distant points only vaguely described. 

Okay, so scratch the local. 

Less meat, more greens. What to eat? My family has settled into a protein-daze. Our meals are basically animal protein and greens, fruit, and occasionally some whole grains. There are many schools of thought who would say this is an ideal diet. But I want to help save the planet, like Mr. Bittman says. Or rather, I want to contribute less to its destruction. 

Okay, I'm making February my month of no meat.

Okay, I'm making February my month of less meat. Ideas for a family whose children are blissed out on protein, and not so into carbs?  Bean tacos? Mezze platters? CHEESE? If they get protein-deprived enough will they turn to alternative sources? 

Wish me luck. 
 

Some other points of interest in the media lately:



2 comments:

AnotherSarah said...

Hey -- I was just coming over here to tell you about making your crunchy garlic soup yesterday for lunch. (beef broth instead of chicken with bok choy and scallions. yum.) For non-meat protein, I'm lucky because all three kids will eat mounds of beans and rice. The bigs like them wrapped up in a burrito (you can get multi-grain - bonus) and the baby eats them with a spoon. I also just came across this recipe for Edamame Frittatas, which sound appropriately protein-y and good. http://greatbigvegchallenge.blogspot.com
Scroll down about 2/3s to the Dec. 8, 2008 post to find it. Then cook it and let me know if I should too.

Larissa Phillips said...

Hey Sarah, Yes, I love this idea for the fritatta! I love this blog, too! Okay my kids would NEVER eat that fritatta, but I definitely would. Did you try it yet?
Such a great idea to get the kids involved in the judging in a positive way.
You are really lucky. Beans is our next challenge. thanks for posting a comment!