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A Comprehensive Meat Classification System

2012.04.02

How much do you think about meat?  Maybe you think a lot about the ethics of meat eating.  Perhaps you are highly conscious of the healthiness of different types of meats.  Or maybe you just daydream about how delicious meat is. However much you think about meat, it isn’t as much as Josh Miner does, I’d wager.

He has created a 4-way Venn diagram in which he looks at four properties of meat: deliciousness, healthiness, ethicality, and ‘realness’ (how unprocessed it is).  Below is his diagram, complete with his examples of each of the 15 possible partitions of those four categories.  One example I thought I could improve upon was for his Group #6: a meat that is delicious and real (not highly processed), but unhealthy and very unethical: foie gras!  Here are Josh’s figure and examples, reproduced with his permission.  Enjoy!

Examples:

1: A real food that is unpalatable, unhealthy, and immoral (ex. fatty, tough, nasty piece of industrially-produced chicken)

2: An edible food-like substance that is delicious, but unhealthy and immoral (ex. McDonald’s chicken nugget)

3: An edible food-like substance food that is unhealthy, unpalatable, but moral (this is a bit of a tough one — pre-cooked, highly-processed skinless hot dog made with local, grassfed beef but that is high in fat and sodium and that for whatever reason just doesn’t taste very good)

4: A real food that is unpalatable, unhealthy, but still moral (ex. the same fatty, tough, nasty piece of chicken from #1, except that the chicken itself was truly ‘free-range’ and raised on a small-scale farm located within a couple hundred miles of where it was purchased)

5: A real food that is unhealthy, but still delicious and moral (ex. same thing as #4, except now it is a nicely-prepared, deep-fried wing or thigh)

6: A real food that is delicious, but unhealthy and immoral (ex. fatty rib-eye steak from industrially-raised beef)

7: A real food that is delicious, good for you, but immoral (ex. a nice, grilled, industrially-raised chicken breast)

8: An edible food-like substance that is delicious and good for you, but immoral (nicely grilled highly-processed, low-fat, low-sodium chicken apple sausage made with industrially-raised chicken)

9: An edible food-like substance that is good for you but tastes bad and is immoral (ex: prison loaf or pink slime — and yes, to all you skeptics, both of these edible food-like substances will give you plenty of health-promoting macro- and micro-nutrients; if you were stranded on a desert island, you’d be lucky to have either of these as sustenance, especially if they were fortified with Vitamin C and could ward off scurvy)

10: An edible food-like substance that is delicious and moral but unhealthy (ex. hot dog from #3 except that this one tastes really good)

11: An edible food-like substance that is delicious, moral and healthy (ex. hot dog from #10 that is low in both fat and sodium — I had about 10 cases of these made for me using the trim from the last steer we bought and still have some of in my freezer right now; they are a great option for the National School Lunch Program)

12: THE HOLY GRAIL: a real food that is delicious, moral and healthy (ex. just about any pasture-raised, humanely-slaughtered piece of meat that is well-prepared; probably the quintessential example would be something wild that you’ve shot and dressed yourself, like deer — bonus points if it is also a destructive invasive species like feral pigs)

13: A real food that is good for you and moral, but that doesn’t taste good (ex. the chicken from #4, except now it is an over-cooked, under-seasoned chicken breast)

14: A real food that is good for you, but doesn’t taste good and is immoral (ex. chicken from #13, except that the chicken was industrially-raised)

15: An edible food-like substance that is good for you and moral, but doesn’t taste good (ex. highly-processed, unseasoned, low-fat chicken apple sausage from happy, local, free-range chickens)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tovar Cerulli permalink
    2012.04.02 13:05

    I like it, Chris. Especially the Holy Grail.

  2. 2012.04.02 17:10

    Another factor is the relative importance of these classes. For me, deliciousness is most important, then healthiness, then realness, and least important to me is the morality. For other people their order may be quite different, and it should be reflected in the kinds of foods we eat!

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