Friday, July 2, 2010

30 Days of Smell

Day 6: Pot Roast

As I stood in front of the open freezer, I saw a pot roast staring back at me. Typically, it wouldn’t sound good during the hot summer months. But, I bought the roast two weeks ago because it was on sale and since the temperature around here has dipped—it’s felt almost fall-like—it sounded good and so out it came and into my slow cooker. Then all day long, the aroma of simmering beef, potatoes and carrots filled the house. Mmmm!

Beef cooking on the stove, roasting in the oven or grilled over charcoal has a tantalizing smell. It makes me hungry to think about it. A warm, comforting and filling aroma, it makes me think of home, growing up and Sunday dinners. It has a permeating, savory fragrance undoubtedly because of all the fat it contains. Meat, in general, has a much stronger odor while cooking than other foods. And beef, above all, awakens the olfactory glands with its strong, greasy, juicy bouquet.

It seems odd to me that rarely do I make the connection between the beef I am browning and the docile creature from where it comes. It’s as though I forget that it was once a living being—the blood that oozes from the package is a liquid of some other source than a life. When the Israelites brought their animal sacrifices to a priest, how did they experience its slaughter and then later sit down to a meal of its meat? Did they more readily smell and make the association? I wonder what that was like.

Another realization has provoked David and me. Recently, he read these disturbing statistics: *“The facts are now out on the price the Earth and the poor are paying to continue the meat addiction of rich countries. Twenty times more people can be fed from an acre of land if they are eating a vegetarian diet than if they are eating a typical American meat-oriented diet. The water required to raise livestock for a meat eater is 4,000 gallons per day; for a vegetarian, it is 300 gallons per day. Over 50 percent of the total amount of water consumed in the United States goes to irrigate land growing feed and fodder for livestock. In addition, ‘the livestock of the United State produces twenty times as much excrement as the entire human population of the country.’”

Though the delicious smell of pot roast bubbling in my slow cooker is enticing, we’ve made the decision that it will only be an occasional pleasure—once a month, or so. I don’t know that we are ready to become vegetarians. However, we do sense the need to reduce significantly our consumption of beef. It’s too easy in the 21st century, in our country, to live far from the food we eat, without connecting the dots that this is a living being I am consuming and it is costing our earth dearly to sustain this habit. So—savory as it is, the pot roast and all its relations will be a delicacy in the Booram home.

The Reinvention of Work, Matthew Fox, pg. 149

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