Advocate: Steak: Pam Anderson’s “Perfect” Party
By Jack Rosenberger
On the first day of our summer vacation in Cape Cod
I placed a large bowl on the kitchen counter in our motel room and started
collecting leftover dry food. By the morning of the third day my wife
and I had gathered about five cups of day-old pita bread, unwanted popcorn,
half of a sandwich bun, and several small slices of whole wheat bread.
Early that morning, Zoe, my daughter, and I walked along the beach to
a nearby motel, on the roof of which a group of seagulls were resting.
Zoe and I fed the leftovers to the seagulls, many of whom seemed fiercely
It felt good to share the scraps of food with the seagulls. However,
I was a little concerned about our feeding the birds. After all, some
people regard seagulls as pests (and vice versa?), and while we probably
weren’t breaking any law by feeding them, our doing so might provoke
someone to verbally confront or lash out at us. However, it was early
in the morning; few of the tourists were awake, and hadn’t yet
begun to decorate the beach with empty water bottles, broken toys, and
Nearby, a heavyset, older man was sitting on his motel room’s
deck, watching Zoe and me. When we had finished feeding the seagulls
and were walking back to our motel, the man said something to us. I
couldn’t hear it, so I said “What?” in a friendly
The man repeated himself, but the wind stole his words again. I moved
closer to him, then repeated my question. Speaking louder, he said,
“You’ve done your good deed for the day.”
I acknowledged his remark, smiled, and continued walking, but his words
led me to reflect about good deeds. One of the implications of his remark
is that the status quo requires merely one good deed per day. After
all, no one says, “You’ve done your first good deed for
the day” or “You’re one good deed ahead of me for
How many good deeds can a person do in a day? I wondered. As Zoe and
I walked across the seaweed-strewn beach, I recalled a cooking column
I’d clipped and read the previous day.
Steak: Party Food?
Pam Anderson (not to be confused with the animal-friendly Baywatch actress,
Pamela Anderson) writes a food column called “CookSmart”
for USA Weekend, a popular Sunday newspaper supplement, and
her most recent effort was titled “Great Steak: How to Cook for
a Crowd.” In the column, Anderson told her readers how to properly
prepare and cook steaks for a large gathering. “Steaks,”
Anderson proclaimed, “are the perfect party food.”
Apparently Anderson thinks Americans aren’t consuming enough cholesterol
and saturated fat.
What I found most intriguing about Anderson’s “Great Steak”
column is what she didn’t write about. Anderson discusses the
preparation and cooking of steak, but the implications of eating steak
in terms of human health (or, heaven forbid, in terms of environmental
or ethical issues) are never once addressed. It’s as though actions
exist, consequences don’t.
Despite the well-documented health consequences of eating too much red
meat, Anderson encourages her readers to chow down on six to eight ounces
of rib-eyes or strip steaks and eight or ten ounces of filet mignon
at a single sitting.
Of the ten leading causes of death in America, the top three—heart
disease, cancer, and stroke—are diet-related diseases. Anderson’s
column blissfully ignores this fact. As for her claim that steak is
“the perfect party food,” Anderson’s right—if
you are trying to kill your guests.
Of course, countless newspapers, magazines, and websites are well stocked
with articles and columns from food writers like Anderson who encourage
readers to eat hamburgers, meatloaf, and steak without mentioning the
health ramifications of red meat consumption, the environmental consequences
of football field-sized lagoons filled to the brim with bovine excrement,
or alluding to the pain and misery on the killing floor of a slaughterhouse.
Likewise, Anderson doesn’t exclusively ply her readers with meaty
recipes; for instance, her “Great Steak” column was followed
by one on berry shortcake. Yet, when Americans are dying in droves from
eating too much red meat, is it ethically responsible for a food columnist
to encourage people to serve massive quantities of steak to her or his
In a phone interview, Anderson said her mission as a writer is “not
to change the world but to inspire people to cook and entertain.”
Anderson doesn’t believe Americans eat too much meat, saying “people
on the Atkin’s diet wouldn’t agree.” As for the meaty
diet of Anderson and other carnivores being responsible for the deaths
of countless nonhuman animals each year, Anderson’s response:
“Eating meat is in our blood. It’s our roots. My body needs
protein. I like my meat.”
Every occupation entails certain ethical or professional responsibilities.
Journalists, for example, are professionally obligated for their reporting
to be fair, accurate and balanced. Food journalists like Anderson, I
believe, have an obligation to consider the health, ethical, environmental
aspects of food.
You might have more luck than I did with Anderson by speaking to her
directly from your heart. Perhaps Anderson will recognize her column
as an opportunity to perform a good deed. Also, you might want to contact
Anderson’s boss, executive editor Jack Curry, and suggest that
future meat-filled columns carry the following disclaimer: “Editorial
warning: Reading this column might be hazardous to your health.”
Contact: USA Weekend, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22107;
(800) 487-2956; firstname.lastname@example.org.