Is Meat in Danger of Extinction?

Kim Conte
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steak

In the face-off between the big beef industry and its critics -- led by Michael Pollan -- it would seem that meat has a new secret weapon.

The beef industry is amassing a coalition of college students and farmers to fight back against Pollan and his ilk and spread a "positive beef message" on college campuses. Called the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA), the program teaches its members such skills as combating PETA, organizing Twitter and Facebook blitzes against beef critics, and lobbying universities to pull Pollan's books from college reading lists.

Organizing a protest against Pollanism is no small feat given his enormous popularity. But the intent behind the project raises several questions including this one: Does meat really need an advocate?

If you consider the fact that beef consumption hasn't been this low since 1961 and that only 8 percent of the country's farmers are under 35, then perhaps one could argue yes. The MBA blames the ubiquity of The Omnivore's Dilemma on college freshmen reading lists for the big beef backlash, and aims to restore the good name of conventional beef with its pro-beef message.

However, I'm not convinced that big meat is in danger of extinction -- at least any time soon. Those annoying "Beef: It's what's for dinner" commercials run over and over again and never fail to make me crave a steak. Most restaurants and fast food places serve nothing but conventional meat. And, unless you live across the street from Whole Foods, organic, sustainable beef isn't that easy for the home cook to find.

Sure big meat might not be sexy -- but it's still what everyone's eating.

And anyway, it's not conventional beef that Pollan is up in arms about; it's conventional methods of raising and slaughtering beef that have him -- and others -- so angry because they're dangerous to us, the animals, and the environment. Can't you be pro-beef and anti-method? I think it would make more sense to organize around that.

Do you think Michael Pollan or big beef is the enemy?

 

Image via soyculto/Flickr

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