Tuesday, November 22, 2011

White Meat

As we approach the festive weekend during which Americans throw out the most leftover food per capita, a couple of thoughts on the meat industry... not something I usually engage (being vegetarian).

My sister was in Haiti recently and wrote a beautiful blog here. Among her observations was the immense problem of NGOs in Haiti. Yes, that is, the problem of too many people trying to help. She asks simple questions: "If 80% of Haiti is unemployed, what is a team of Americans doing building houses for them?" and... "why isn't there any chicken breast available for dinner?"
Honey Lime Drumsticks

You may have heard about the way the US/World Bank/IMF requirements ended up flooding Haiti with rice from Arkansas in 1991, or the situation with Montsanto's "gift" of genetically modified corn (Haitian farmers overwhelmingly rejected it because it would contaminate local seed supplies and reduce farmers' ability to support themselves for the next year by saving seeds from their crop). You would think we would learn not to mess with other folks' agriculture. But we like sending food to starving children, so we donate to the organizations that continue to flood foreign economies with American food. And, we like our crop subsidies, so we like to keep farmers overproducing here.

Cassie writes: "Last night I learned that the US sends left-over dark meat to Haiti, since we eat a disproportionate amount of white meat. The cheap prices take away any incentive to raise chickens for sale in Haiti. I've eaten drumsticks for dinner the past two nights."

Think on that when you eat your white meat. Check the supermarket: with the exception of whole birds for sale, there are many more chicken breasts than drumsticks for sale, are there not? By purchasing only the best meat, we choose a system that dumps inferior meat on countries that will take it, destroying their ability to feed, employ, and empower themselves.

I am preparing for a trip to Uganda, and let this be foremost in my mind: to do no harm in your helping.

1 comment:

  1. Ahem, I would not call it "inferior" meat - it's the fattier meat.... and the yummier meat!