Open Arms of Minnesota

Summer Grilling

Even though spring seems to refuse to arrive in Minnesota this year, the deck in the backyard is ready for summer. The table and chairs are positioned and the grill is clean and waiting for the first barbeque of the season. All winter, I have been craving a really good steak grilled medium rare, or even a brat or a burger, covered with pickles, ketchup, and yellow mustard. (Sorry, I can’t do Dijon mustard on a burger. It just wouldn’t seem like summer.)

I’ve been reluctant to look at the price of meat in the grocery store given the ever escalating food prices. I had decided, after this never-ending winter, that I was going to enjoy every possible moment of outdoor cooking and dining – and if that meant paying more for steaks and hamburger, so be it. I know it’s not exactly healthy, but I was determined to compensate for my meat consumption with additional bike rides, or walks, or runs. More exercise might balance out a greater intake of red meat, but consuming more meat will do nothing to help the millions of people around the world who are suffering from increasing food costs and shortages.

A recent article in the Washington Post said “the growing food crisis has pushed prices to their highest levels since 1945 and rivals current global financial turmoil as a threat to world stability.” It is estimated that the global food crisis has pushed over 100 million people into greater poverty.

Given that most people in the world struggle to secure a bag of rice or corn, it seems incredibly indulgent for me to be planning outdoor barbeques with juicy steaks. The land that it takes to grow one cow to maturity could generate so much more food if it was used for crops rather than used as a cattle feed lot. And just imagine if that land were used to actually grow healthier foods.

Now, I know myself well enough to not commit to going vegetarian – I simply like meat too much. However, I can dramatically reduce my meat intake, and I can start right now as grilling season is about to get underway. My plan is to only grill red meat every third time I barbeque. So, for every time I throw a steak on the grill, there has to be two times grilling fish, or chicken, or veggies. (Fortunately, I like veggie burgers too, especially if they are smothered with ketchup, yellow mustard and pickles.) A further goal this summer will be to only purchase free range chicken.

I know reducing my meat intake this summer won’t feed a hungry person in Haiti today, but it’s a start. I’ll let you know how it goes over the course of the summer. That is, if summer ever arrives in Minnesota this year!

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