Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Interview with Scott Gold & Shameless Carnivore Giveaway

The Shameless Carnivore

According to Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, "lately eating meat has become somewhat déclassé" and yet I can't help but notice, it's the topic of discussion, everywhere I turn. Whether it's the hotly anticipated issue of Meatpaper, dining nose to tail, or the latest e.coli scare it seems we are obsessed with meat. This week is even "Meat Week" over at Chow.

Gold is just the most recent to look more closely at our relationship to eating meat but his look is an intelligent and sometimes very funny one. As an avid meat eater, I was especially curious to hear his take on women and all things meaty. Thanks to Scott for taking the time to talk to me about eating meat and how women fit in, among other things.

1) Is eating meat macho?

In general, I don't see carnivorism as particularly macho...then again, I think it all depends on what meat one is eating. Chicken salad on wheat toast? Perhaps a little on the "yin" side. On the other hand, eating a rattlesnake, alligator or wild boar that you stalked and dispatched yourself -- any animal that would very readily kill you if it had the opportunity -- that's about as hardcore "yang" as dining gets.

If there's a stereotype of carnivorism being a macho behavior, it exists for a reason: when you look into the hunting and meat-sharing behavior of chimps (our closest evolutionary relatives), you'll find that only the biggest, baddest males get to have more than just a scrap of meat in their diet on a regular basis. And that meat becomes a commodity that they'll fight over, trade with comerades, snub rivals, and offer to females they're looking to mate with. For them, meat is the ultimate currency, and the strong males control it.

But for me, being a human, enjoying a steak or a turkey sandwich or beautiful osso bucco doesn't seem macho at all - just appreciation of fine ingredients, which any discerning eater, male of female, macho or wimpy, participates in.

2) What do you think of women who are "shameless carnivores?"

I want to marry them. Again, I don't feel that relishing good meat is an overly manly thing, and I feel sorry for any woman who chooses the salad over the steak she's lusting after because she fears in might seem unfeminine. Bullocks to that! In fact, the NY Times recently noted a growing trend of women ordering meat on dates because men are attracted to that shared experience.

I'm drawn to people with adventurous appetites, and who are passionate about good food. And, yes, much good food has meat in it (or is meat). There's something decidedly fuddy-duddy and killjoy (not to mention unsexy) about picky eaters. Women who are bold, shameless carnivores, who revel in great food with unabashed gusto, have a very special place in my heart.

3) Now that you have revealed your love for meat, do you expect others will follow your lead?

More than anything, I'd hope that people who already enjoy meat will consider it with a little more perspicacity - to not only look into where their meat comes from (happy, healthy animals make the best meat, of course) and choose it wisely, but also to explore meats that they might not normally come by. Instead of grilling a beef steak, why not give buffalo or kangaroo a try? Substitute rabbit for chicken, see how the recipe can change in a lovely, gratifying way. The way I see it, if you've made the decision to eat meat, eat meat! Eat good meat, and don't be afraid to explore new territories.

4) Authors like Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan have made us look more closely at where meat comes from as well as how environmentally sustainable it is. Mark Bittman in his most recent book said "our current rate of meat and fish consumption simply cannot be justified." Do you agree?

Absolutely. There's no doubt that our current meat-consumption practices are on an unsustainable trajectory. Because meat is less expensive and more prevalent than at any time in American history, we wind up eating way too much of it, and that's neither good for us nor the animals, not to mention the environment. Still, that doesn't mean we should all become vegetarians. There are plenty of ways to enjoy meat and reduce your negative impact on Mama Earth. Mostly, that involves trying to eat local, humanely raised (and, if it's beef, grass-fed), conscientiously grown meat. And yes, eating less of it. But you know what? I've found that if you eat meat at fewer meals, when you do have a meaty meal it's of superior quality, you'll appreciate it so much more. And you can sleep soundly knowing that you're killing the environment a little less...depending on the state of your gasoline consumption, of course.

For a chance to win a copy of Scott Gold's new book, The Shameless Carnivore, head to GlamDish now!