Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness is Destroying America!
Parks and Recreation, is the epitome of man. His magnificently hairy upper lip is cordially complemented by a general air of superiority, a passion for the outdoors, for woodworking, and for meat. His gluttonous love of animal is central to his character, it is used to accentuate his role as alpha male, and speaks to an ideal every frat boy across the country lives by: meat eating is manly. By eating meat the frat boy proves his dominance over the beast, his ability to kill prey, extract from within the carcass of that animal a chunk of flesh, and to transform that flesh into sustenance with the aid of fire. He is proving he is a hunter.
Or so Ron Swanson pyramid of greatness, would have us think. But Ron Swanson is not a hunter, and neither are you. You may have the heart of a lion, the spirit of a Neolithic tribesman, but you are further removed from the source of your meat than any single one of your ancestors. You may manifest your killer instincts day to day at work, during your office softball league games, or when you confront adversity on the freeway but you, like the rest of us, do not earn the meat you eat. You do not track, chase, wrestle, and potentially sustain injury in the pursuit of a meal. Your toughest choice is whether you will need a cart at the grocery or whether you can stick with the hand basket, whether you have the energy to mix up your own marinade or if you can just buy the tenderloin that has been stewing in the concoction made by the factory in Kansas City where it was produced. Ron Swanson and others like him have convinced men across the country that slamming chicken wings at Hooters is a manly way to spend their Friday nights, when in fact our nation’s addiction to meat may be one of the most concerning drivers of future economic and environmental issues.
Far more important than our carnivorous past is where our current dietary habits will take us in the future. Raising cattle for beef is perhaps the least efficient means of obtaining calories possible, especially when you consider what is required to produce a pound of beef. The beef is fed on corn. This has a number of implications. First, the corn must be grown using fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and most importantly, a huge amount of water. The chemicals drain into our fresh water, polluting it, and the irrigation lowers reservoir levels to a degree which indicates that we may have none left in a several decades. The corn is subsidized, controlled, monitored, and patented by Monsanto, ConAgra, and ADM, the corporate replacements for the dwindling Tobacco Industry which know no limit to their power, and consequently, greed. The plight of the modern farmer results. The cattle are not evolved for corn consumption and their health deteriorates so we pump them full of antibiotics. This results, down the line, in antibiotic resistance, one of modern medicine’s greatest problems.
On a diet of corn cattle fatten up, yes, but with significantly higher percentages of saturated fat than they would if fed grass. McDonald’s distributes the meat, and America’s number one killer becomes heart disease. Our government can’t afford our medical bills any more? Take beef off the menu. The mid-west is suffering drought year after year? Take beef off the menu. The Gulf of Mexico is so polluted with fertilizer that no life can exist within hundreds of miles of the Mississippi delta? Take beef off the menu.
But chicken and pork are not much better. True, it takes fewer pounds of grain to bring a pound of pork to the market than beef (I think the ratio goes from 12:1 to 3:1), but the conditions these animals are living in are horrifying. Hardly can they be classified as animals any longer as their dignity is gone. They are fed ground up parts of their sisters and brothers, peck each others eyes out and are so riddled with disease only desperate migrant workers brave the conditions to slaughter. Again, this is controlled by giants of limitless power: Tyson, Smithfield and the like. The extent to which this industry is removed from the way in which poultry and pork were raised in not-so-distant yesteryears is such that it bears no resemblance to way in which humans evolved to gather and consume meat. True, meat has become cheaper, more readily available, and accessible to nearly everyone, but at what price?
Water. We don’t have enough, and India and the Middle East are in far worse shape. Over half our fresh water is used for the production of meat. Your water bill may be cheap now, but we are depleting our fresh water reserves at astonishing rates, largely due to agriculture. The Ogallala reservoir, America’s largest underground water storage, supplies water to 30% of the irrigated land in the US- land that gives us our soy, corn, and our meat. But the reservoir is being used up, some estimates show it will run dry by 2030, leaving us without the ability to farm what is currently the most productive land in the US, and leaving millions without drinking water. Cut down the meat, preserve our planet. It is that simple.
Methane. Many times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Its primary source is cattle. Cut down the meat, preserve our planet.
Meat is a status symbol. As countries grow richer, their consumption of meat increases. But how many vices allowed by wealth have we learned, throughout history, to abstain from in the preservation of our health, wellbeing, and economic prosperity? What will it take for people to set aside tradition and culture so that they may respond to the issue of meat?
For now, let it be known that there is no pride to be had in excessive meat eating. If anything, consumption of meat as produced by this system is a declaration of ignorance, negligence, and stupidity. Ron Swanson may indeed sport an impressive ‘stash, but his love of meat is misguided, and if he were a true man, he would admit his folly, and spread this word to others.
Ron Swanson pyramid of greatness? I’ll pass.