09 September 2013

(Just Another) Meatless Monday

What’s for Dinner? It’s not exactly a loaded question, but it’s not wholly innocuous either. This seemingly uncomplicated question is often the second question asked for a first date. It has spurred on countless discussions/disagreements among families (happy families are alike in their dietary choices.) And for all of its transparent directness, the question of dinnertime meal can provoke responses ranging from anxiety for the hangry (hungry + angry) to book-length responses like Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Relatively speaking, an omnivore’s dilemma is an easy one, what about the electivore’s dilemma of what’s for dinner? Thai, Indian, burgers, sushi, Vietnamese, pasta, grilling, pizza, the binary choice of cooking our own or going out. Along with the increasing array of meal options, many of us also worry about how to eat: Fresh, local, seasonal, staying within a budget, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten free or avoiding other allergens are all viable ways to approach a diet.

In the midst of all these choices are two options to help with weekly meal planning imageMeatless Mondays and Pro-Pasture Fridays. Meatless Mondays may sound new and trendy but the concept goes back nearly a century to voluntary rationing that occurred during WWI. Meatless Mondays, and its alliterative partner, Wheat-less Wednesdays, helped raise awareness to conserve war time commodities. Following the Second World War, President Truman revived the concept to help feed war ravaged Europe. The idea was shelved until 2003, when Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future seized upon the idea to promote healthier choices.

Along with personal health and all the advantages of a vegetable-centric diet, going without meat has the environmental benefits of reducing water consumption, our carbon footprint and fossil fuel consumption. Monday is for many of us the day we plan out our week, and Monday also happens every week, giving us a weekly chance to create a more sustainable now and future.

Pro-Pasture Fridays are at the opposite end of week and spectrum, but again the day offers a personal choice to contribute to the collective good. Focusing on Friday’s food is the brainchild of Friends of Family Farmers, who offer a wide range of reasons why pastured eggs, dairy and meat are a good choice, you can visit them at the link above. One real good reason to make pastures a focus on Fridays: If 10% of Oregonians spent $25 a week on pastured products, 500 million dollars annually would be transfered to the pockets of the state’s ranchers, stockmen and dairy producers – helping to ensure farming is a viable middle-class career.

Friday evening is usually greeted with a mental or audible ‘woo-hoo’ for a week either well done or at least, survived. Beer, cocktail, glass of wine to go along with a good meal is plenty of woo-hoo. The woo-hoo gets a little better with Deck Family Farm offerings, eggs from a free-roaming outdoor chicken or a melt in your mouth imagecheese from Farmucopia/Dee Creek. Friday night is your night out? Pro-pasture Fridays isn’t just for home cooks, across the state grocery stores, purveyors and restaurants are joining to give their customers the option for pastured food. You can visit participants here.

With so many food options, these Meatless Mondays and Pro-Pasture Fridays help anchor your meal plans, improve health, contribute to a better environment and support local food producers.