Tag: Meat

The World War II Campaign To Bring Organ Meats To The Dinner Table

In January 1943, just over a year into the United States’ involvement in World War II, former president Herbert Hoover took to the pages of the now-defunct magazine What’s New in Foods and Nutrition to deliver a part-pep talk, part-warning about the state of the American meat supply.

Meats and fats are just as much munitions in this war as are tanks and aeroplanes,” wrote Hoover, who led the U.S. Food Administration during World War I.

The problem will loom larger and larger in the United States as the war goes on … Ships are too scarce to carry much of such supplies from the Southern Hemisphere; our farms are short of labor to care for livestock; and on top of it all we must furnish supplies to the British and the Russians.”

Hoover knew of what he spoke. Just two months later, meat would join butter and cheese as a rationed food item, as growing quantities of beef and pork were shipped overseas to feed American and Allied troops.

But meat rationing represented a harsh blow to the American diet, which considered it a staple. As Lizzie Collingham wrote in her book The Taste of War, “Red meat, preferably beef, was highly valued as a prime source of energy, especially for the working man, and its presence on a plate helped to define the food as a proper meal.

In 1940, at the behest of the Department of Defense, the National Research Council assembled a team of the country’s leading social scientists to create the Committee on Food Habits.

Its mission was twofold: First, they needed to launch an in-depth study of Americans’ eating habits—who in a household decided what would be served?

What made a meal a meal? What was the ideal balance of familiarity versus novelty?

And second, once it understood the factors that influenced those answers, the committee needed to change them in ways that benefitted the war effort.

To head the committee, the NRC recruited anthropologist Margaret Mead, along with German-born psychologist Kurt Lewin. At the top of their agenda: addressing the looming meat shortage.

More specifically, they needed to devise a way to convince Americans to abandon their steaks, pork chops, and other familiar cuts in favor of the meats that the soldiers wouldn’t eat—the hearts, livers, and other organs that remained plentiful stateside.

In other words, even the government didn’t fully embrace its own message that variety could become the new normal. Organ meats would do for wartime—but the satisfaction of a well-cooked steak was still a formidable foe.

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Behind The Hype Of ‘Lab-Grown’ Meat

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you—a burger-eatin’, chicken-finger-dippin’ American—to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells.

One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger.

And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat.

Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by American agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals.

But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture.

Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market.

A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product.

The truth is that only a few successful prototypes have yet been shown to the public, including a NASA-funded goldfish-based protein in the early 2000s, and a steak grown from frog cells in 2003 for an art exhibit.

More have come recently: Mark Post unveiled a $330,000 cultured burger in 2013, startup Memphis Meats has produced cultured meatballs and poultry last and this year, and Hampton Creek plans to have a product reveal dinner by the end of the year.

Because many in the cultured meat industry see this meat as cruelty-free, animal rights groups have become more vocal about cultured meat in its recent past.

For now, we know that the meat is made by growing animal-derived cells in the lab and harvesting the meat after a month or so.

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What Would Happen If The World Suddenly Went Vegetarian?

Last January 31, 2016 marks the end of World Week for the Abolition of Meat – an appropriate time to ask ourselves what would happen if those of us who live in the developed world, with its ample choices, opted for a beet burger instead of a beef burger every time we sat down to eat.

The world’s hungry would no longer be hungry

Your beef or pork may be locally grown, but what about the animals’ feed? Vegetarians and vegans aren’t gobbling up all the grains and soybeans – cattle are. A staggering 97 per cent of the world’s soya crop is fed to livestock.

It would take 40 million tons of food to eliminate the most extreme cases of world hunger, yet nearly 20 times that amount of grain is fed to farmed animals every year in order to produce meat.

In a world where an estimated 850 million people do not have enough to eat, it is criminally wasteful to feed perfectly edible food to animals on farms in order to produce a burger rather than feeding it directly to people.

As long as a single child goes hungry, this kind of waste is unconscionable.

There would more land available for our growing population

Countries around the globe are bulldozing huge swathes of land in order to make room for more factory farms to house all the additional chickens, cows and other animals as well as for the huge quantities of crops needed to feed them.

But when you eat plant foods directly, instead of indirectly eating bushels and bushels of grain and soya that have been funnelled through animals first, you need a lot less land.

Vegfam, a charity which funds sustainable plant-food projects, estimates that a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soybeans, 24 people by growing wheat or 10 people by growing maize, but only two by raising cattle.

What’s more, Dutch scientists predict that 2.7 billion hectares of land currently used for cattle grazing would be freed up by global vegetarianism, along with 100 million hectares of land currently used to grow crops for livestock.

With the population of the UK expected to exceed 70 million by 2030, we’ll need all the land we can get to accommodate the extra demand for living space and food.

Billions of animals would avoid a lifetime of suffering

On many industrial farms, animals are kept in cramped conditions and will never raise families, forage for food or do anything else that is natural and important to them.

Most won’t even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto lorries headed for the abattoir.

There is no better way to help animals and prevent their suffering than by choosing not to eat them.

The risk of dangerous antibiotic resistance would reduce

Factory-farmed animals are disease-ridden as a result of being crammed by the thousands into filthy sheds, which are a breeding ground for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses.

Pigs, chickens and other animals on factory farms are fed a steady diet of drugs to keep them alive in these unsanitary, stressful conditions, increasing the chance that drug-resistant superbugs will develop.

A senior officer with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization called the intensive industrial farming of livestock an “opportunity for emerging disease”, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe”.

The NHS would be under less strain

Obesity is literally killing British people. The NHS has warned that, if left unchecked, the country’s obesity rates will bankrupt the health service.

Meat, dairy foods and eggs – all of which contain cholesterol and saturated fat – are the main culprits in obesity, which contributes to the UK’s top killers: heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and various types of cancer.

Yes, there are overweight vegetarians and vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But, on average, vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese as their meat eating counterparts.

Once you replace high-fat animal-derived foods with healthy fruits, veggies and grains, it becomes a lot harder to pile on the pounds.

What’s more, many health problems can be alleviated and even reversed by switching to a plant-based diet.

Going vegan might not make the world a perfect place, but it would help make it a kinder, greener, healthier one.

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Pass it on: Popular Science