Today I have been trying to calculate portion sizes, cost and scheduling the Seven Deadlies lunch all-the-while doing what I normally do everyday for my job. Amazingly enough, in between all that activity my mind has been busy thinking and analyzing and reviewing everything. Somewhere along the way, I received a flash of insight -- a revelation. It was a confirmation of things that have been percolating in the back of my mind.
I believe I have reached the end of my SCA career as a feastocrat, or head cook, or whatever they want to call it. I just can't do it anymore. It's not that I'm not capable of handling the job, I simply cannot find any ethical justification to encourage me to continue pursuing it.
The first thing I realized is that the people in the SCA expect you to perform miracles with whatever meager budget they give you. Somehow you're expected to provide a lunch plus a three or four course meal with all the trimmings at barely the same price of a plate of nachos at Tullys.
Its absolutely amazing how any SCA cook worth their salt can accomplish this incredible and somewhat unrealistic task time and time again. How is it that all of these individuals are not Laurels after just a few years is simply astounding.
Of all the items needed for a "proper" feast, meat tends to be one of the most expensive items on the menu. And yet, people demand that the meat be plentiful. Basically they want a 16 oz sirloin steak at Big Mac prices.
Although it is a daunting task, it is not totally impossible to do. It just relies on the person to find the cheapest cut of meat they possibly can find. Unfortunately, this leads me into the ethical dilemma.
Unless the cook has an "in" with a local farmer, the only way to find the cheapest cut of meat requires looking into those discount grocery stores, like Aldi's. I know I can go into there and walk out with chicken at only $.39 a pound, 5 pounds of ground beef for a few dollars, and a large spiral cut ham for about $5. It is cheap food, but it will feed hordes.
Before becoming a vegetarian I had no problem with that. Before realizing how the meat industry works I didn't care. Before understanding the conditions the animals lived in I turned a blind eye. Before reading about the effects it has had on the human population -- not just in America, but the whole world -- I let it be. That was all before.
Now I'm not saying that all meat is bad -- at least not at this point in my journey. What I am
saying is that cheap meat is bad. There is no possible way that a person can pay those low prices for meat without someone in the meat industry taking some huge drastic and possibly questionable shortcuts. Those shortcuts are not good for the animals, not good for human health, and not good for the environment.
It bothers me that people are greedy and want as much as they can get without a second thought as to who or what it harms. It bothers me that I have to purchase substandard food so it can fit into a "Burger King" budget. It bothers me that I have to support an industry that doesn't care about anything except the almighty dollar. It just bothers me.
Of course, it didn't help that I watched the latest episode of Torchwood
on Saturday. The story is called "Meat". By the end of the episode I was crying for the poor creature, with my emotions being especially enhanced by Jack's reaction. You gotta love thought-provoking TV. That is what started this whole process, consolidating all of those thoughts and little tid-bits of information that had been sitting in the back of my brain.
Once changed, it's hard to go back to the way you were.