Jane Goodall is a remarkable woman. I admire all her work to educate the public about conservation. She’s known as the Chimpanzee Champion, but she’s so much more than just the chimp goddess.
I read several books by Jane Goodall. She has great, hopeful messages. And yes, in Harvest for Hope she does display confidence that the human race can and will make the right decisions for our health and the planet. But for some reason, this time, I felt she was a little preachy.
Books which graphically discuss living conditions for factory farm animals are a big turn-off for me. Not because I “don’t want to hear about it”. I have heard about it. Over and over. So many times, I’m actually desensitized to the horror. Yes, factory farm animals live in horrid conditions. Stop beating me over the head with that.
I prefer Michael Pollan’s method of describing ethical farming practices. Rather than focus on the tragic life of factory farm animals, which has countless times been known to turn people away from your platform rather than sign them up, he focuses on the good farms.
Pollan’s stance on ethically and humanely raised animals who were pasture-raised, grass-fed, allowed to grow natural and healthy lives is simple. “They have only one bad day in their life.” This makes me feel good about supporting my local farmers who happen to produce beef and pork. They are good people, who believe the animals should be treated well. When you treat your food well, it will treat you well.
Now, hear me out, because while I refuse to go full out vegetarian, I’m far from a full-fledged carnivore. I’m a fracking omnivore, as humans were designed and evolved to be. I really am sick of the argument “well, our teeth aren’t designed like a carnivore’s. We don’t have jaws for tearing flesh.” No, we don’t. We have teeth and BRAINS that were designed to COOK our food to tenderize it and then eat it. By the way, this is also my beef with Paleo when they say “we weren’t designed to eat legumes without cooking them.” No shit. That’s why we cook them.
I do agree that we should eat less meat than we do. In the United States, we heap on piles and piles of meat and claim “PALEO!” and swear we are eating healthy. This isn’t good for us, or the earth.
I have come to my own conclusion that vegetarian (not necessarily vegan) is probably the healthiest, more environmental diet we can consume. But I don’t believe we should all go strictly vegetarian 365 days a year, for life. I mean, unless you want to, and feel good about it, and it’s a sustainable lifestyle for you. But if you are going to go ape shit crazy whenever you see, I don’t know, fried chicken, then strict vegetarian maybe isn’t for you.
I’ll give you a real life example. Chris is on a strict, low protein diet right now. He needs to watch his protein intake, and also his salt, phosphorus, and potassium intake. It took us a little while to figure things out, but he basically is on a higher carb diet than the normal human should be consuming. But he still does love meat once in a while. We discovered through this culinary journey of ours that we don’t need a lot of meat to make a dish taste good. In fact, just a little meat brings out the flavors and taste even better than huge piles of it. It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? More is better, right? I sometimes forget this isn’t always the case. Here has been an example where less is good, and even better than more.
Less doesn’t have to mean eliminated completely. I have found it’s sometimes difficult to find ethically sourced, humanely, pasture-raised meat. For this reason, I choose a lot more vegetarian entrees and ingredients. But when I do find small amounts of meat from a source I trust, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about eating it.
I feel this method is the soul of Eating Green. I eat sustainably for me and the planet. I find food which is sustainable for the earth, no palm oil, no hormones or pesticides, locally sourced if possible, and very important for me, little to no plastic packaging. I also need it to be sustainable for me. If I restrict something I love (and I don’t mean sugar, we can all do without all that damn sugar), then the dietary lifestyle isn’t sustainable. I’m not going to be able to maintain it longterm.
I find it odd that Jane Goodall ignored the palm oil crisis in this entire book. I wonder if it’s because it was written in 2005, and she wasn’t aware of the issue back then? That doesn’t make sense, though. I know she doesn’t deal with orangutans in the same sense she does with chimpanzees, but I would have sworn she would know some of the issues facing one of the most charismatic primates.
Jane also didn’t touch base on the plastic packaging issue. She almost did, by discussing bottled water, but went on to discuss water itself, not so much the plastic packaging. Funny enough, while I was listening to this section, I was emptying trash cans and quietly cursing every human who throws water bottles in the trash. Especially when there is a recycling canister next to trash. I feel there is a special place in hell for those who throw away water bottles.
There’s a lot about Harvest for Hope to digest. From where our vegetables come from, to what’s in our food products (including massively produced vegetables and fruits, known as monoculture), how our meat is raised, how our fish is caught, how we use and abuse water. It’s a long list, and while Jane was hopeful and gave great suggestions, I feel she was still a little over-bearing. Don’t guilt me into your way of thinking, I’ll rebel. Gradually show me how your way of life is working well for you, and let others see the benefits from eating ethically, environmentally, and healthy.
Go eat green. Be hopeful and helpful for Mother Earth.