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on eating burgers again.

i have a long and storied history with hamburgers.

as a child the joke was always that if there was a burger to be had, i'd be the girl to have it.

and then as a girl-in-the-throws-of-womanhood there was this one particular burger shared with this one particular boy growing ever so nicely into manhood. for months thereafter i refused to have another burger--afraid that it'd somehow negate or erase or make less sacred that day and that burger that would never again be.

i think there's this false notion that people recovering from eating disorders turn to a vegetarian or vegan diet because it's about control or restriction or just another way to lose weight.

about this i want to say several things:

1. for some people, i'm quite sure this is true. this is exactly why they turn to it. but not everyone. not even the majority.

2. those who think eliminating meat will lead to weight loss have quite another thing coming. {beef patties are not usually the thing a person binges on}.

3. a vegan diet still allows for the consumption of a lot of crap (over-processed foods, stuff high in sugar) and it does not promise thinness any more than anything else.

4. until you've tried a vegetarian or vegan diet you don't really get to judge either. from the inside of it, it's not about restriction so much as a restructuring--a second look at what we've been taught to believe about food. and it becomes not about what you can't have, but all of the possibilities from within the defined parameters.

in the process of recovering from a knock-down-drag-out fight with a version of bulimia i began reading as much as i could about food and it's meaning and it's place in our culture. i was unwittingly, unknowingly searching for a food culture--a value system because i wasn't sure we have one in this country. and if we did it came from a place of what-we-can't-have.

still to this day i believe the food culture of this country is mostly one of weight-loss (which obviously isn't working because people are getting fatter--though i don't think the point is for it to work so much as it is for people to spend money). and if there is a value system it has little to do with food and everything to do with fat versus thin--versus being the operative word.

and then we've got women versus other women--demonizing large bodies and small bodies alike.

for me the reason i turned to vegetarianism was always one of environmental concern. it was very clear to me that it was the single easiest thing i could do on a daily basis that would positively effect the environment. to say that we should be able to eat whatever we want whenever we want it is an unbelievably selfish notion and in turn, practice. what we eat affects our health and the health of the planet--it affects our limited natural resources, the consumption of oil, the lives of the animals we're consuming.

i went on a first date recently where i asked the guy: who am i to say that my life is more important than the that of the chicken i want to consume? and he responded with: because you're human and the chicken is not. it's as simple as that. maybe it would be that simple if i had to eat that chicken to survive or the chicken was my only option or i knew that chicken hadn't been born and bred for a 28 day life that was nothing but unbearable suffering.

okay, i'm getting off topic.

this is all to say, that i've started to eat meat again, in small amounts. not in moderation (let me be very clear and say small amounts, not in moderation because people who hear or read that word {moderation} interpret it to mean the exact amount that they're consuming something, so small amounts it is).

i am not against eating meat. but i am for local farmers. i am for sourcing food locally.

i was searching for a food culture and eliminating meat gave me one. each and every day the choices i made regarding food felt bigger than me and my vain and false concerns regarding calories and carbs and counting points. but that choice to abstain from meat was made while i was still very much in the throws of coming out of an eating disorder.

and i'm not anymore. and i've come to learn that food culture and its associated value system isn't so black and white. it is not simply to eat meat or not to eat it. it has to be about more than that. it has to be about nourishing ourselves as we nourish the earth. it has to be about investing in local food systems and eating seasonally. it has to be about making more food ourselves and teaching the next generation what food is and where it comes from and why it's important.

so yes, i've started to eat meat again. and the hamburger i had last week at the farm-to-table restaurant just across the street was worth the wait. the best part of it? the juicy, red tomato that tasted like candy (once you've had a tomato that's in season and ripe, how you can ever have another tomato in the dead of winter again is beyond me).

it occurs to me that at some point last week i wrote about how the desire to change my body was the least interesting thing abut me and every other woman i've ever known. in moments like this i become very aware of semantics. what i said holds true, and i will defend that statement until the end. but, it should be noted, that the desire to eat healthier, be healthier, live a more active lifestyle--the desire to seek out a food culture, the endeavor to nourish ourselves with food and information are endlessly interesting and not to be underestimated.

that's all, i really just meant to say the hamburger was damn good.

{the burger was had at prime meats}. if you ever you find yourself in carroll gardens... or anywhere close, go. 


Alyssa said...

This is a brilliant post. As the intern for the local chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local, I have learned so much about our food system and what is terrible about it. And buying locally supports the local economy and it's better food. There's nothing better than a fresh strawberrie that you pick off of a bush than the gross ones from Driscolls. Seriously girl-I felt your words to my core.

jackie said...

i love this. there's no need to defend your choices to all of these people who don't even know you, but i appreciate hearing your reasoning behind it. i'm glad it was a damn good burger.

Mary said...

I always find it interesting to hear people's philosophies about food. Philosophy may be a bit strong of a word, but I agree with you that in today's world, it does require a bit of thinking and striving to find the right approach for you. I was a vegetarian for about five years, and I ended up adding meat (in small amounts) back into my diet for the sake of my health. Instead of eating whatever just as long as it was vegetarian, I instead started to focus on nourishing my body. Being healthy. More vegetables, more grains, and yes, meat and seafood in small doses. When I was pregnant, I craved red meat, and I firmly believe it was my body telling me I needed more iron. As a parent, I like introducing a wide variety of healthy foods to my kids. I feel healthier, and I absolutely agree....sometimes there's nothing better on a hot summer day than a big, juicy burger.

Jessica said...

I agree with most of what you said but I also learned a few new things here as well!
So thanks :)

I'm a meat eater, but sometimes I get really grossed out when I think about what it is that I'm eating. But recently, I've done more research and read some really kick ass blog posts (like this one) which has reassured me that eating meat is very healthy. It's about nourishing your body and it's natural. So I don't get as grossed out anymore!


bsmithhill said...

Love this post. Wish I had written it b/c it is exactly how I feel about eating meat :) (You said it much more eloquently than I ever could have).

em lord said...

i love that you qualified it with "it would be different if i needed chicken to survive." choosing what you buy and put in your body is a first world problem AND privilege. i try to use food/the money i spend on it to support what i believe in [local farming, cage free environments, etc.]. voting with your dollar, so to speak.

i respect anyone who puts real thought into their eating choices, whatever their reasons may be. i have really strange reasons for my own choices [i don't eat pig or cow because i think my dog has a soul...something about the slaughter of these other 4-legged animals just doesn't sit right...how different are they than my little bebe dog?], but they're MY choices. and i can sleep at night, healthy in body and clear in conscience.

Treasure Tromp said...

I agree with a lot of this. My vegetarian diet is driven primarily by my feeling that it is the easiest way for me to do my part to help the environment. But man, sometimes all I want to do is bite into a nice juicy burger like that!

sarah nicole said...

I've been on nearly this exact same journey (though my veganism might have been the mostly about control and deprivation...) - eating disorder, vegan, vegetarian, moderation - so I can relate. It feels so good to finally be free, doesn't it? Or as close as I've been in over ten years.

You enjoy that meat, girl. I will too.

Really love your writing.


Jacob Phelps said...

I think all eating routines are fine. I choose not to eat red meat or chicken, but to be honest, I just don't care for it. I love seafood though! Enjoy your meat in small amounts! : )

Erin said...

lol You are awesome. The way you weave around to get to the point is entertaining and informative. I am more at the beginning of the mean/no meat thing. I don't/never had an eating disorder but I badly want to make healthier choices and I know that means eating less meat. My dad's heart doctor recently told him that, if he wanted to live another 20 years, stop eating meat. Although I think he meant that eating meat in SMALL amounts is okay; he was trying to make a point. I took it to heart and am now trying to figure it all out.

By the way, a burger would be much more appreciated when only eaten on occasion.

viktorija said...

Excellently put! thanks. ;)

Britti said...

This is really inspiring. Thank you.

Samantha S said...

Thank you for having such a wonderful blog. I am a recovering bulimic and I find my comfort in caramel cappuccinos. Each morning I make my own with whip cream and caramel drizzle. I am beginning to realize that life is so much more than a fear of foods, a nagging voice in my mind, and a number on a scale. I follow your blog because you make me realize these things more and more with each post. Thank you. Please keep writing such wonderful things. You are truly beautiful and inspiring <3

Alexa said...

where can i find this farm-to-table restaurant?!

and by the way….you're glowing. loving your long hair :)

jessica renae said...

amen, sister. i'm in the middle of reading animal, vegetable, miracle (which i saw you've read from a past post somewhere), and what you said here reminded me so much of her food philosophies. i had a conversation with my husband the other night in which i said a lot of these same things, just not quite so eloquently. i'm with you on every word of this one!

samara dane said...

you are so wonderful with words:)

Hope Johnson said...

Really thought the closing line was very clever!

Amy said...

I thought you were entirely correct -- damningly so -- about the remark that it's the least interesting thing about any woman. I thought that was so well put it's helped me to think differently. It's not negating the tendency, but what it does is say we're all so much MORE than that. The least interesting thing to say is a body-bashing comment, not only because it's negative and reiterates the norm of what women are supposed to talk about it... but also because it is actually boring. It says nothing about anything or anyone. Bravo.

Holly said...

This is fabulous. I have been a vegetarian for almost 3 years (and was vegan for 8 months). People judge us for being very black and white--for believing that we judge them for eating meat. For me, if a person eats meat for survival or that is humanely grown, I support it. While there's no chance I'll be eating meat any time soon, being conscious of where our meat/dairy/produce comes from is something our country should focus on more :) Props to you! xoxo

melanie said...

you are amazing.

Jenni Austria Germany said...

"4. until you've tried a vegetarian or vegan diet you don't really get to judge either. from the inside of it, it's not about restriction so much as a restructuring--a second look at what we've been taught to believe about food. and it becomes not about what you can't have, but all of the possibilities from within the defined parameters." -- i second every word of this!

Liz said...

thank you-the search for our own food culture is something I am personally working on and honestly, stumbling about doing so. I'm trying to figure out my own feelings about everything and how I fit into the equation.
It is so true: it is not simply to eat meat or not to eat it. Everything doesn't need to be black or white, and thank you for not only reminding me of that, but inspiring me to continue to seek out more about my relationship with food and food culture in general.

Alex said...

On my last trip to NYC, I had what I think was one of the best burgers of my life. It was at Ruby's, a tiny Australian [apparently] place in Soho. It's either on Mulberry or Spring. But all I know is that it was damn good!!

Ashley and Patrick said...

I highly suggest you listen to this podcast about local food production - http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/06/07/you-eat-what-you-are-pt-2-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/

I am a proponent of any food choices as long as people have thought about it and make educated decisions (which clearly you have). And I love local food because it tastes delicious! But this certainly opened my eyes to the positive environmental effects of city living and trucked-in food. Just wanted to pass it along.

hayley said...

thank you so much for this post! i am a vegetarian but i occasionally eat meat and i get alot of flack from both my vegetarian and non vegetarian friends... oh well, i can't please everyone

Diana said...

Fantastic post! I loved every word.

I have recently been on a journey to find a food culture, and while I'm currently quite happy to be living a vegetarian lifestyle, more than anything I'm pleased to see more and more people making conscious, educated decisions about the food we eat. It affects us so much as individuals and the world as a whole. What we put into our bodies and what we put back into the earth is important, and as such warrants thought and deliberation.

I'm glad you enjoyed your burger. :)