In my opinion, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Foods, by Michael Pollen, presents and ties together many aspects that complicate the choices we may make when growing, purchasing, and preparing food.
Based on our digestive system, teeth, and what necessary nutrients we do or do not produce and thus, do or do not need to get from food sources, I believe that humans are designed to be omnivores.
I do believe that we each, based on our genetic history, may thrive more on one type of diet than another. Some do best with more animal protein, some do best with little. etc. You have to find what works for you.
I abhor the mainstream factory farming of animals. I also abhor mainstream factory farming of fruits, vegetables, grains, and fungi. Yet, I do not yet have the financial and/or local resources to eat meat, eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetable, grains, and fungi from only sustainable and/or organic farms or other smaller sources.
While I support organic farming, I realize that a number of the negative issues of factory farming of both plants and animals are present in large-scale organic farming, and that much of the large-scale organic farming and the long-distance shipping of that food adds a bigger carbon footprint to our consumption.
I also understand that we can’t change the system overnight. If we ALL suddenly refused to buy the mainstream, factory-farmed animal and/or plant products available in our grocery stores, the economy would fail and we would starve for lack of “sustainable” food sources.
SO…we need to change the system, but it has to be via one or a few steps at a time, and we need to not condemn folks who are not in a place to make any or many changes right now, whether due to economic, educational, or cultural reasons, or due simply to the stress of doing one’s best to survive.
We all need to eat. I believe that we can address many serious issues by making informed and intelligent choices when we shop for or grow our food. But, a delicious, home-cooked meal of factory-farmed animal and plant products that at least does not rely on high-fat, high sodium, high [insert scary chemical(s) of your choice here] food products is surely better than a meal of tater tots and ding dongs…You know what I mean.
I advocate supporting local and sustainable farming whenever it is available and in your budget. But do remember that sometimes, sustainable means buying locally yet conventionally grown versus organic from Argentina. Or perhaps it is a toss-up.
Just remember that there are no simple answers for everyone. And, the most important thing is creating an atmosphere in which we can truly relax and enjoy our meals, hopefully in good company and with good conversation.