Meatballs and furniture? What were you thinking? It’s true, there is no evidence that horsemeat got into the meatballs in the United States, but only because there is a system in place. Queasy factor aside, horses are given high amounts of drugs that are not good for people. Most cattle are, too, unless raised organically.
How do you avoid horsemeat in your meatballs, or meatballs in your furniture? Buy locally raised meat. Of course it costs more, but you can visit your local farmers, see what the cattle eat, and be reassured that the animals are treated humanely. This is true for poultry as well.
In his column on February 26, Neil Peirce reminds us that a single quarter-pound of hamburger costs 6.7 pounds of grain, 600 gallons of water, 75 square feet of land, and 1,036 BTUs of other energy. If you buy locally, you can eliminate most of the transportation costs as well as the stay in a feedlot that concentrates waste and exposes the cattle to all sorts of exciting bacteria.
In a hungry world, beef is expensive, and in terms of food value, eggs, poultry and dairy are more efficient. City regulations are being modified in the Northwest to encourage small-scale farming and food production. Every magazine and newspaper seems to feature do-it-yourself chicken coops, vertical vegetable beds, and exotic gardening tools.
Local farmers markets start up again April, and winter-weary families will gratefully seek early vegetables. We still have three or four bags of frozen yellow tomatoes, and a few jars of our own saur kraut. But even I, the clueless eater, look forward to visiting the seed store to see what they've got for us this year.
I avoid beef because I have high cholesterol, but if you must eat it, be willing to pay the honest cost. Then enjoy it as a luxury for the wealthy. Locally made furniture isn’t such a bad idea, either – straight, no meatballs.