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MasterChef 4 recap: Pig’s Heads and Christine Ha (S4E11)

(PLEASE NOTE: This blog is not approved or endorsed by MasterChef or Fox, and they would probably rather you not read it.  The info contained in this blog is OPINION ONLY from a former MasterChef contestant who has no knowledge of the production of this season.)

It was like pulling teeth to summon the courage to watch this week’s episodes.  Honestly, I’m both bored and horrified by what MasterChef has now become, and I REALLY want to stop watching it.  But I’m getting so much feedback from all of you that you’re enjoying my recaps…I’m gonna do it for at least another week.  And I’m hoping maybe the producers will grace the audience with at least some redeeming quality in these next 2 episodes to give us decent human beings SOMETHING to latch onto.

But it doesn’t bode well that the creepy narrator voice (who IS that guy?!?) saying within the first 20 seconds: “Krissi targeted Bime for elimination…and HIT her target.”  So we know that MasterChef has finally ceased, entirely, to be about cooking and has, instead, become a game of selfish strategy.  I can’t watch that stuff, so from this point on I’m going to watch MasterChef solely for what meagre amount of cooking makes it to the screen, and write about that.  That should mean shorter blogs, fewer rants about character, integrity, and human decency, and a much faster read for those of you on Reddit and the TV forums who consider me the biggest TL:DR (too long, didn’t read) blogger on the internet.  (Though it IS sad how short our reading attention span has become…thank you, Internets.)

Beneath the mystery boxes are whole hog’s heads.  Poor Bri…the sole vegetarian left in the top 13.  Luca weeps, James squeals with glee, and Krissi says: “………………….no.”

I’m a little surprised they pulled the pig’s head card.  On my season when we had the pork challenge, the “scary” cuts were left out because the producers thought the mainstream American audience wouldn’t be ready to see the head or the ears or the heart or the bung.  They tested the waters last season with a mystery box of organ meats, including testicles, and apparently the audience didn’t stop watching.  So they pulled out the heads this year.  I’m really excited, because I love cooking a pig’s head.

If you’re squeamish at the idea of unconventional meats, I urge you to take a deep breath and not pass judgement on how something is going to taste by your instinctive reaction to it.  There are muscles in the head, just like in the arm, the leg, the back, and the belly.  Muscle is meat.  And the muscles that get a lot of exercise are the MOST flavorful meats of all.  (They also happen to be the most tough, and require special cooking methods like braising or pressure cooking to make them tender.)

I think many people are uncomfortable with the head because it reminds them that what they are eating was once alive.  If that’s the case, it’s critical that you either reconcile yourself with your carnivorous habits immediately, or stop eating meat forthwith.  All meat was once alive.  (For that matter, virtually ALL we eat was once alive, including vegetables and milk and fungi and yeast.  In fact, it might be hard to think of a single thing we eat that was not once living other than salt.)  A good place for you to start in this inner struggle is with my blog posts from a year ago about the ethics of eating meat and the follow up blog, as my fan base was really electrified by this debate following a photo I posted of a rooster I was about to “harvest” for a meal at FRANK for Bastille Day.

If you eat meat, the head should be NO different from the tenderloin.  Most cultures around the world PRIZE the cuts that get wasted in America, and the newest trend in restaurants is “nose to tail” cooking…utilizing the entire animal out of respect for its sacrifice.  Many restaurant now buy the entire carcass, organs and all, and skilled, savvy chefs use every last bit of it.  And it’s high time that happened.  Organ meats, which were once either discarded or sold at embarrassingly cheap prices, are now coveted by foodies and their prices have skyrocketed accordingly.  (Though pig’s heads can still be purchased at Asian and Latin American markets for remarkably cheap, sometimes at little as $2 a head.)  Yesterday I bought a cow’s tongue on a KILLER sale for $3 a pound, when it’s normally closer to $6 or $7:

So even if your natural response to an organ meat or a bizarre cut is initially revulsion, let logic reign in those moments and realize that you’re just looking at another cut of meat that can be truly stunning in the hands of a capable chef.  But all that knowledge chefs harbor for working with these “variety meats” or offal doesn’t magically be bestowed upon them from the heavens…the body of knowledge regarding working with organ meats and unusual cuts comes to us STRAIGHT from the kitchens of farmers and “peasants” throughout history.  When Joe says, “There’s no longer home cooking here, this is professional cooking,” he’s right if he’s referring to Middle America, but dead wrong from a global perspective.  These meats are cooked and served FAR more frequently in humble home kitchens around the world than they are in restaurants.

The judges are soft on the contestants because they have already broken down the pig’s head into the ears, tongue, cheek, and snout…so the contestants don’t have to do any butchering.  (Though some, including Eddie, are brave enough to tackle the whole head anyway!)  All 4 of these cuts are prized in famous food cultures around the world, particularly in Italy and France.

Gordon says he’d blanch the tongue, then braise it and serve it with cream and mashed potato and horseradish.  (YUM!)  I wish we’d have gotten more education from the judges at this point, because it would be VERY valuable for the audience to hear what Graham and Gordon would do with EACH of the 4 cuts.

I’d have a hard time with this challenge simply because, while the 90 minute time limit is a bit longer than usual, these cuts really come into their own through TIME.  The jowls can be wet-cured over a period of several hours in a potent salt and brown sugar brine, then smoked to become jowl bacon, which can then be turned into something miraculous.  (Jowl bacon is like regular bacon, but much heartier with more lean than even center-cut bacon.  Michael Chen is sitting next to me as I write, and waxes eloquently about how the “lean” in bacon is entirely separate from the fat, but the muscle fibers in jowl are marbled throughout with bits of fat, making the “lean” in jowl much more succulent than in bacon.)  The tongue can be brined for a week, turning it into pastrami, and then cooked en sous vide (vacuum sealed and slowly cooked at low temperature in a water bath) for 2 days until it’s meltingly tender…and the sandwich you can make with that will change your life.  Or it can be made into tacos de lengua…my very, very favorite type of taco.  Or it can be halfway frozen, sliced thinly, marinated in ginger and soy and garlic, and seared briefly…the way the Koreans enjoy it.  The ears can be pickled over a week, then braised and then crispy fried and turned into a brunch sandwich suitable for the gods.  The snout is the most complex of the cuts…filled with both fat (flavor and richness), connective tissue (which melts into a stock with incredible body and mouth feel), and muscles that get almost constant use, so they are exploding with meaty flavor and texture.  The cut is so complex that you can simply add it to water with some seasoning, and a root vegetable like parsnip or rutabaga, and some legumes (beans or lentils) and an exquisite soup will result…especially in the pressure cooker.

Beth is headed down the Southern route with cornbread, black eyed peas, collard greens, pork jowl and crispy pig’s ears.  Southern cuisine has the same reverence for pig meat as the Italians…it’s almost sacred.

Poor Bri…she’s had to cover the pig’s head with a towel while she cooks because she can’t look at it.  I would imagine Bri is a vegetarian because she chooses not to take the life of an animal to sustain herself, so this challenge must be really difficult for her.  We rarely see a vegetarian go so far in the competition on MasterChef, and Bri is one of my favorites…I wish they’d show more of her because she seems to me to be a peacemaker and to be really funny, and we need more of both.  Despite her aversion to eating meat, the dish she’s preparing sounds divine…crispy pig’s ear with poached egg and heirloom tomato salad, and she’s going to be doing something with the cheeks, as well, but they edit that out.

Lynn is braising his pork cheeks and then deep frying them…a technique that works very well with facial meats because of the fat content and the connective tissues, which will fry up VERY crisp even after braising.  And he also mentions using the tongue, but his plans for that get edited out.  (Gotta save more time for backstabbing, ya know.)

Jonny has braised the tongue and cheeks in pork stock, red wine, and mirepoix (pronounced “meer-PWAH”…a classic French foundation for sauces and braises: a simple combination of onion, celery, and carrot).  I see him warming tortillas, so he’s making tacos!

Jessie is cooking with the cheeks and she’s making a black bean, jalapeno, and roasted corn salsa…and doing a fusion of Mexican and Southern cuisine.

This is a mystery box where I think the audience deserves to see EVERY dish tasted, because we’re being introduced to ingredients that make many of us uncomfortable.  So drooling over some incredible dishes is one of the best ways to get us over that discomfort.  But, like always, only 3 will be tasted.

Lynn is chosen first.  He’s got red wine braised pork cheeks that were subsequently fried to a crisp, served on top of pork tongue braised with Asian spices, with parsnip puree and ginger scallion oil, and fried tomatoes.  Lynn’s plates always look stunning.  The judges are supremely impressed.

Next is Jessie, who has ears and cheeks braised in chicken stock with a mix of black eyes peas and roasted corn and jalapenos.  (In Southern cooking, this mix is called “chow chow” and it was introduced to the South by the French-descended Acadians when they migrated from northeastern Canada to the Louisiana swamps…where their techniques mixed with the flavors of Africa and became Cajun and Creole cuisine.)

Finally, Jonny brings his tacos up for judging.  They are filled with braised pork tongue and cheek, sweet and spicy tomato jam, toasted cashew guacamole, and roasted corn and red pepper relish.  That’s no street taco!  Joe is at a loss for words…he says, “This dish is just…really…good.”

Of the 3, the one I want to eat most is Jonny’s tacos, but I would imagine Lynn would take the win because of the sophistication and presentation of his dish.  The judges agree, so Lynn heads back to the pantry to discover his advantage.  And the theme is revealed by none other than legendary Christine Ha, last season’s winner.  She’s back to meet the contestants and promote her cookbook, Recipes From My Home Kitchen.  It’s actually a fabulous cookbook, especially if you love Asian food but aren’t very comfortable cooking with it.  The book is half Asian-influenced masterpieces, and the other half…well, basically everything from pulled pork BBQ to dirty rice to chicken pot pie.  A cookbook as varied as the woman herself.  (Who, I’m excited to report, is coming to my house for dinner tomorrow.  The calf tongue is in the immersion circulator as we speak!)

There are 3 ingredients to choose from, all of which are featured in Christine’s cookbook: whole chicken, whole catfish, whole Dungeness crab.  Lynn doesn’t have to cook, and he gets to select one “target” who will work with one protein, while everyone else will work with another.  He targets Krissi and gives her the catfish, while everyone else gets to cook with Dungeness crab.  (Poor Bri!)

The next twist is that the contestants have to cook blindfolded.  I don’t expect this to last more than about 60 seconds, otherwise everything’s gonna be broken and people are gonna lose limbs and eyes.  (Let’s not forget that Christine had an assistant during her challenges to help her locate ingredients and stay on track.)  And, of course, the blindfolds come off almost immediately.

Bri is making a light crab salad with mashed peas, corn puree, and champagne vinaigrette.  And let’s not forget that she has to kill the crab…her first time having to do this on the show.

Luca is making a crab risotto, and he adds some fish sauce to the risotto stock “to make Christine happy.”  Having not yet seen the results, I’m puzzled about a comment Luca made on his Facebook asking people not to comment on his fish sauce risotto and just leave him with his grief.  There’s NOTHING wrong with a drizzle of fish sauce in almost ANY dish.  The Italians used fish sauce before it was ever introduced to the west from Asian cuisine.  I use fish sauce in almost EVERY Italian dish I make.

James is doing a Creole dish and finds it’s weird that Krissi is pairing her catfish with mashed potatoes.  “We don’t do that where I’m from,” he says.  James?!?  You live in Texas.  Fried catfish is ALWAYS served with mashed potatoes and gravy here.  That’s totally normal.  But Joe decides to be incredibly angry with her for making a traditional Southern catfish dinner…he wants something more sophisticated and doesn’t even want to taste it.  (Might I remind him that on my season, Whitney Miller…the winner of season 1…returned to present a challenge where we cooked catfish, fries, and coleslaw, and he didn’t complain then.)  This whole thing is ridiculous…nothing more than the producers trying to spin us back on Krissi from the last episode where she “targeted and eliminated Bime”…it’s not real.  Don’t believe it.

Beth is doing crab cakes with peach salsa.  Natasha is also doing crab cakes with Asian flavors.  Gordon asks her if she’s using the dark meat as well as the white meat…some species of crab have varying grades of meat within them.  The muscles that drive the crab’s swimming legs are larger, pale and more delicate in flavor, than the pink meat from the claws, or the darker meat found inside the body, which are stronger in flavor.

Time is called and judging begins.  Krissi is first with her bacon cheddar mashed potatoes, asparagus, and cornmeal crusted fried catfish.  She left the skin on, which Gordon chastises her for.  This is a ridiculous criticism.  Catfish skin is often left on when frying the fillets.  It’s the “peasant” way of cooking, which, were we talking Italian food, would be praised by Joe.  But Gordon says Krissi is cooking for the JUDGES and to set aside her own preferences.  (They told me something similar on my season when I didn’t peel the asparagus I served.  My reply to the judges, which did NOT get edited into the show, was that most of the flavor, texture, and nutrients in asparagus are located in the skin, and that if the skin of the asparagus is too tough to eat, I just won’t cook with asparagus.  Peeling asparagus is ridiculous.  Either you eat asparagus whole, or you don’t eat it.)  I was told, “You’re not cooking for yourself, Ben Starr, you’re cooking for Master Chefs.”  That was drama.  Just like this is.  (It should be noted that in Christine’s catfish stew recipe in her book, she says that she prefers to have the skin off because she finds it a bit oily.  I typically only see the skin left on when catfish is fried…exactly how Krissi prepared it.)  I love how Krissi realizes that all this is false drama, and she sort of smiles at it all.  “Because I had to fight with Joe, they’re going to bash me no matter what,” she says.  Joe acts like a third-grader and continues to call her out even after she’s back at her station.  What a waste of air time when there are delicious dishes we could be shown.

The editing of this whole sequence is so ridiculous, I’m embarrassed for the show.  They’re trying to butcher Krissi for the way they edited her on the last show, in some sort of gladiator fashion, as if the audience is thirsty for her blood.  But she didn’t ACTUALLY produce a bad dish in this challenge, which is clear from looking at it.  So all this criticism and drama is completely fabricated, and it shows.  Disgusting.

Natasha’s Asian-influenced crab cakes with beets, pickled radish, and champagne vinaigrette look nice, and the judges and Christine enjoy it.

Bri brings up her summer crab stack with pea and avocado mash.  Graham is impressed with her classic combinations (peas and crab, shellfish and corn).

James brings up his spicy crab creole with rice and seafood broth.  Christine loves the levels of flavor and the heat.

Beth has Dungeness crab and “marscapown” crab cakes.  (We’ve already addressed this, but there is ONLY one correct pronunciation of the Italian soft cheese called mascarpone, and it is this: “mas-car-POWN-eh.”  There is only one “r” and it does NOT come before the “s.”)  She has Meyer lemon and herb creme fraiche and grilled peach and avocado salsa.  Sounds delicious, despite the mispronunciation, Beth!  Joe spits it out and says it tastes like raw, mealy flour.

Luca presents a bowl of soup, and the judges are puzzled when he tells them it’s actually a risotto with crab, asparagus, and lemon.  Christine says that initially it’s too salty.  Joe makes him bring up the bottle of fish sauce and says that “to put fish sauce in a risotto, all of Italy will weep.”  Again…complete lies.  Fish sauce is as integral in Italian classic cooking as red wine.  In Italy it’s called “colatura” and here’s a link to a variety of different types you can purchase on Amazon.  And here’s a link to a Google search for “colatura risotto” that will lead you to a lot of pages in Italian with risotto recipes that utilize fish sauce.  It irks me to NO END when any of the judges make these sweeping statements about food being governed by black-and-white cardinal rules…ESPECIALLY when their statement is completely and utterly false.  It is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE to put fish sauce in risotto, Joe, and if you don’t know that, you might need to go back to Italy for another summer of food education.

The top 2 are Natasha and James, who was declared the best.   The 3 worst are Krissi, Luca, and Beth.  And the axe falls to Beth.

I loved Beth from the first moment I saw her.  She has such a kind face and a tender heart.  If the producers would have featured more of her, the show would have been easier to watch, because she’s GOOD PEOPLE.  Read her bio on her amazing website, Local Milk, and you’ll find out that she studied philosophy and creative writing at Loyola and spent many summers in the Netherlands, before gravitating toward both the camera and the spatula.  Beth is the kind of person I want to meet and cook with.  I hope, someday, that will happen.  Follow Beth on Facebook and Twitter, and please leave your comments below!

The Ethics of Eating Meat

This great debate about meat just keeps on coming, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I received a remarkable email from a fan who has been vegetarian since age 10, and I’d like to share a portion of it:

“The ethics of meat eating have been on my mind since I spent five weeks in rural Ecuador working with a water NGO at the beginning of the summer.  I was staying with a host family and eager to experience the culture and help out around the home, which, one Sunday after the weekly meant helping pick out, slaughter, and pluck a rooster for dinner.  (You can see my host brother with the rooster in the picture.)  I then had the honor of burning off the tougher parts of the skin which was a little bit of a harrowing experience at times when bits of it caught on fire.  I confess – I found the whole thing pretty unsettling.  The rooster didn’t seem terribly happy about the whole process, and if anything, the experience strengthened my resolve to be a vegetarian.  I know people refer to it as the animal “sacrificing itself” but the animal didn’t really have any choice or agency in the process.

So here’s my question: It’s so rare to hear from someone like you who actually kills their own livestock and I would love your perspective on why you think it’s ethical to eat meat.  You seem to have thought so much about the issue, and I really think you could add richness to my (and many other people’s) understanding of the other side of the debate.  In your last blog post, you mentioned that people have eaten meat for thousands of years.  But people have done lots of things for much of history — some good (agriculture, moral taboos against murder) and some bad (lack of women’s rights, lack of gay rights, lack of all kinds of minority rights, slavery), so time alone doesn’t make it ethical.  You also said that some animals would have gone extinct if we didn’t breed them, but just breeding or creating something doesn’t mean we have a right to kill it and eat it (as by that logic alone, parental cannibalism would be justified :P).  So can you talk more about the deeper issues of animal consciousness and rights and whatever else you think helps define the moral issues for you?  I know it would help broaden my worldview and I think it would help many other people too.”

Alyssa, thanks so much for sharing this story.  And, alas, I wish I could tell you that I’m as eloquent a philosopher as I am a writer.  But any debate on “ethics” or “morals” always ends up in a battle over what “ethics” or “morals” means in the first place.  And, to be honest, I don’t really know if there’s any possible way to define ethics or morals across any group of humans, much less the entire span of the human race.  Ethics and morals can truly only be embraced and embodied in a single individual.  Religions may claim to unite their followers under a single body of morals and ethics, but they never do.  Plenty of people in the religion I was raised in still believe it’s not right for a woman to speak in church, or for her to ever contradict her husband, but the majority have more progressive views.  Ethics and morals can only be defined by an individual, for an individual.  And that’s the outer-most boundary of any moral or ethic.  Laws can claim to spring from “universal morals” but I still don’t believe there is such a thing.  I think, under certain circumstances, it is moral to end the life of a human (ie euthanasia).  So the most popular “universal moral” of it being immoral to kill, isn’t, in fact, a moral that is universally applicable.

There are many ways to look at the meat eating issue.  One way is to say that, in nature, the food chain exists, and animals eat what their instincts drive them to.  Lions eat meat.  Cattle eat grass.  Dogs eat whatever they come across, like bears, but will kill live food if they are hungry and can’t find sustenance in berries or plants.  Our ancestors were hunter/gatherers.  They hunted meat, and they gathered edible plants from the wild.  It is in our nature to eat both meat and plants.  The dawn of civilization occurred when humans discovered they could cultivate BOTH animals and plants.  Had such rich animal protein sources not been available, the human race might have fallen extinct like our evolutionary ancestors did.  So, at least historically speaking, humans have eaten meat throughout the entire duration of our existence and evolutionary development.  Some vegetarians like to suggest that the biology of the human body is actually not “designed” to eat meat, because we don’t have pointed teeth like most carnivores, etc..  For every legitimate argument they present, there is a legitimate counter argument on the opposite side.  There is no conclusive scientific evidence that humans are biologically programmed to eat meat or not.  Regardless, for the entire duration of our existence, we have eaten meat.  And as a result of this, we have sheep, pigs, goats, cows, chickens, and a handful of other animals which had a genetic predisposition toward being domesticated.

That phrase alone is enough for me to justify eating meat for myself.  The vast majority of animal species on earth are not fit for domestication.  It would never be POSSIBLE to domesticate them.  But for a handful of animals, domestication happened almost spontaneously.  And whether you take a scientific outlook or intelligent-design outlook on our origin, both routes seem to point quite clearly at the fact that these creatures were meant to be domesticated as meat animals, either through the hands of a creator, or through the probability and adaptability that governs the theory of evolution.  A sheep may be able to provide wool for fabric, but at the end of its natural life, it has a rich source of life-giving protein that would be disrespectfully wasted if it was buried or cremated.  Of course, the carcass could be left for scavengers, but then we’ve upset the “natural balance” of things by providing unnatural excess for scavenging species, which will overtake local populations.

These domesticable species came into existence because we needed them for food and other purposes.  (And let’s not forget that ALL meat animals are utilized in many ways other than meat…chickens give eggs and feathers, cows give leather and their bones are used for fertilizer, etc.)  Should we have domesticated them in the first place?  Had we not, we may not, in fact, be here today.  Should we continue to domesticate them now that we have “evolved” and can make a moral choice to not eat meat?  What responsibility do we then bear for these species which would have no place in the wild without human husbandry?  Do we allow their entire species to die out from natural deaths?

This brings up another argument that vegans often tout…  We have progressed as a species to the point where we no longer NEED animal products to sustain the human race.  There are arguments on both sides of this fence from far wiser people than me.  While it’s true that it requires many, many pounds of vegetable calories to raise a pound of meat…and that many humans could be sustained (though perhaps not richly sustained) on that same amount of vegetable matter, rather than utilizing it for meat production to feed a far fewer number of humans…meat is a source of nutrients that is unmatched by anything outside the egg, which technically is also meat.  Some like to tout quinoa and hemp seed as the miracle foods that can provide the same complex amino acid base that gives meat its complete protein, and can therefore be a nutritional substitute for meat.  However, I cook extensively with both quinoa and hemp seed, and can vehemently say that to take my entire protein content from quinoa, hemp, and various beans does not result in a rich quality of life…TO ME.

Which is leading to my final point.  Yes, humans have progressed and advanced in many ways.  We are sentient and can make decisions governed by things which can be called morals and ethics.  We can also experience a higher level of pleasure and satisfaction than can our animal counterparts.  We love in a more complex way.  We take pleasure in things like art, literature, and food.  And for us to fulfill our own maximum potential as a species, I believe it is our duty to further these things to their own maximum potentials.  We must continue to write.  We must continue to create art and music and dance and theatre and film.  And we must continue to further the culinary arts.  It is our duty to, because we have the capacity to, as no other species on earth does.

A chicken’s potential, as a species, is not to be a companion, like a cat or a dog.  It can’t be potty trained.  It is insufferably and adorably stupid.  But it has the maximum potential to live as a chicken naturally lives: free of a cage, eating what it can scavenge, mating, laying eggs, roosting in trees at night, and providing a food source for coyotes and raptors and humans.  And as a provider of crude protein with both its meat and its eggs, and well as being a facilitator of the development and advancement of the culinary arts, the chicken’s maximum potential is to sustain life on a larger scale and a higher order.  A tiger’s maximum potential is to live unmolested in the forest, hunt for its food, and continue to balance the natural ecosystem.  In comparison, a chicken has a far greater potential in this universe than a tiger.  And not to help the chicken achieve that potential is, in my opinion, immoral.

No, I do not believe animals are “equal” to humans.  If given the choice, I will preserve the life of a human child over a young animal any day.  Animals are a lesser order of life on this planet.  Yet we have the ability as humans to help them fulfill a far greater destiny and contribution to the universe than just existing and dying, un-utilized by us.  We have the power to cram them into cages, torture them, kill them and eat them.  But this is an evil and irresponsible choice.  We have the power to give them a natural life that allows them to fulfill their natural potential, and then die…in order to fulfill a potential far greater than their own existence in the first place.  And this is the moral choice.  To ignore them as a species and their potential to be utilized to advance and enrich human life on earth is, in fact, immoral to me.

The death of an animal sustains life on a higher order.

To me, the world could not be any more beautiful and perfect, simply because of that.  It does not sadden me that meat animals are killed to sustain our life.  That is, in fact, their purpose.  Were it not, a chicken would be like a sparrow or a leopard…incapable of domestication.  The chicken’s evolutionary path merged with the human’s because that was both our destinies.  And we have sustained and enriched the chicken species far beyond what it ever could have in nature, had it not offered us a domesticable, rich source of food to sustain life for us.  Were it not for the chicken, our species might never have survived.  Were it not for the chicken, our species would definitely have never THRIVED.

I see no moral drawbacks to the eating of meat, provided the animal it came from lived a life that allowed it to fulfill its nature.  And its penultimate nature is to take its place on the food chain and sustain a higher form of life.  To me, this is, in fact, living in harmony with our planet.

I would absolutely love to hear what you all have to say on this matter, please comment below.  And for further reading, the New York Times hosted an essay contest on the ethics of meat eating, and the essays can be read at this link.

I also highly recommend the works of Michael Pollan, a food journalist, and Joel Salatin, a farmer.  (Both can be ruminated upon in Polan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, where he spends a good deal of time at Salatin’s farm.)