My love of butter, in its place and quantity, is no secret, so Mark Bittman’s recent New York Times article, “Butter is Back” might sound duplicitous to my recent blog post; however, there’s an important distinction.
Mark was commenting on the recently published study that saturated fat has not been shown to increase heart disease. It’s hard to know what to say when the “baby” of decades of thought on a subject is thrown out with current thinking “bath water”, except to say life is an experiment. Not mine to judge; at least not today.
What I did find important in Mark’s article is what many of us think and whisper to one another, but too few of us say aloud. Mark:
“Although the whole “avoid saturated fat” thing came about largely because regulators were too timid to recommend that we “eat less meat,” meat in itself isn’t “bad”; it’s about quantity and quality. So at this juncture it would be natural for a person who does not read volumes of material about agriculture, diet and health to ask, “If saturated fat isn’t bad for me, why should I eat less meat?
“The best current answer to that: It’s possible to eat as much meat as we do only if it’s grown in ways that are damaging. They’re damaging to our health and the environment (not to mention the tortured animals) for a variety of reasons, including rampant antibiotic use; the devotion of more than a third of our global cropland to feeding animals; and the resulting degradation of the environment from that crop and its unimaginable overuse of chemicals, soil and water.
“Even if large quantities of industrially produced animal products were safe to eat, the environmental costs are demonstrable and huge. And so the argument “eat less meat but eat better meat” makes sense from every perspective. If you raise fewer animals, you can treat them more humanely and reduce their environmental impact. And we can enjoy the better butter, too.”
No matter how aware I think I might be, this commentary causes me to again step back from the habits in my life to re-examine how and whether I shop, eat and live compassionately. I can always do more, and I can muster the courage to talk openly about it.
It’s an important conversation in the broader context of compassion and sensibility for the whole of life, not just what satisfies me, individually, or supports an unconscious habit.
I appreciate the reminder.