Mother Earth News article: The truth about vegetarianism

I’ve been a subscriber of Mother Earth News for a while now and a reader of the magazine since I was a kid. I’ve always appreciated the thoughtful and interesting articles in it and this month’s issue has an interesting story called “The Truth About Vegetarianism.”

The story is based on the 2009 book The Vegetarian Myth. I’d just like to say that I don’t have anything against vegetarians or vegans. I understand why they do what they do.

I haven’t read the book yet, only the article, but it seems that the author is really interested in delving into the nature of the modern factory farming agricultural system. Lierre Kieth, a former vegan, suggests that the vegetarian path is not going to accomplish the goals that most vegetarians seem to have. These reasons include tend to revolve around health, protecting animals, helping feed the hungry and not participating in factory farming.

All those are honourable goals, but is being a vegetarian really going to accomplish them? Avoiding meat for health reasons, particularly if that meat is coming from the factory farm process, is quite sensible. I’m not going to go into those reasons, but I certainly understand them. I would prefer to consume naturally raised animals instead of genetically modified, steroid and anti-biotic injected, confined and often diseased animals.

I would also prefer to eat fruits, vegetables and other food products that aren’t genetically modified, coated in pesticides and herbicides or contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. Coli. Is that too much to ask? Apparently to factory farmers, it is.

Keith covers a broad range of topics in her five-page summary published in Mother Earth News, dealing with food security and factory farming. I tend to agree, from the reading and research I’ve done in the past, that these are far more serious issues that being a vegetarian is not really going to adequately address.

It is not easy to break the factory farming cycle, but we’re beginning to see rumblings among citizens that indicate people are becoming fed up with the crap we’re being fed, both from agribusinesses and politicians. I certainly don’t blame the small farmer who’s being driven to the edge of bankruptcy by what is a fundamentally corrupted food system.

The popularity and awareness of farmers markets has really increased in recent years. I’m not sure if gardening has as well, but I hope it has. We really do need to examine the relationship between what we eat and where it comes from to our personal health and the health of our land.

If you’re interested in your health, your family’s health and the health of agriculture, this article would be a good start. I’m definitely going to be picking up the book.

10,000 hours

outliers-the-story-of-successThat’s what it takes if you want to master something. Almost anything I guess.

This comes from a new book written by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers: The Story Of Success. It’s actually being released today and it sounds like one I need to get a hold of.

From the excerpt I read, Gladwell seems to be saying that there are two things at work when it comes to success: time and a bit of luck. Luck is one of those things you can’t really control. Time is one you have a certain degree of control over. You’d think that genius would be one of the factors that contributes to success, but Gladwell digs into “genius” and suggests it’s not as much of a factor as you might think.

I’ve read Gladwell’s other books: The Tipping Point and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. I like his writing and ideas. He’s definitely not one to stick to conventional thinking.

We’ve always heard “practice makes perfect” and according to Gladwell seems to be the case.

This idea – that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice – surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.

I can’t say I’ve spent 10,000 hours mastering anything. Sleep maybe. I’ve found a career now that I feel I can stay with for the rest of my life, and I’m well into my journey to 10,000 hours. I’ve had some luck along the way too, but some might say that’s positioning.

If you were to put in eight hours per day mastering any skill, it would take you 1,250 days to hit 10,000 hours. That’s about three and a half years. Every day. How many of us can devote a full eight hours every day to anything? Even at work your day is broken up by lunch, coffee, meetings, etc. How much of your day is real work where you can master your skill of choice?

Let’s say you get three hours per day really mastering your skill. That translates into 3,333 days, or about 9 years. But, that’s every single day. Seems like a big task, doesn’t it? I have tried to teach my kids that hard work matters more than genius, and I hope they’re learning that. Of course you need to have a normal level of intelligence, but after that, it’s hard work that really counts.

I think mastery is a goal worth working towards, whether it’s work-related or some other pursuit like art, music, writing, carving, etc. So, what skill are you working to master with your 10,000 hours?