Jim, our most loyal and active reader (who I may have to start paying soon since he’s so useful), pointed out that I SCOOPED THE NEW YORK TIMES when I wrote about processed meats. You can read their article here.
As expected, they still miss the point on some things.
In addition, many people skip red meat not for personal health reasons but because they are concerned about the health of the planet.
Livestock account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Compared with a burger, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich saves as much as 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 280 gallons of water and 50 square feet of land, according to the Web site PBJCampaign.org
Now, I’m just as concerned “about the health of the planet” as most of the vegetarians out there. And I don’t actually eat read meat… but I don’t eat red meat because, until recently, there wasn’t a local source of red meat that was raised according to my standards (we haven’t processed our own in about a decade but that is about to change). Those standards are all about the life that the animal leads before slaughter, the way that it is slaughtered, and how close to my house it was raised. I made that decision when I was 16 years old, and I’ve stuck to it for 11 years now.
Saying that “livestock account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions” is, in my book, downright lying. Talk about manipulating facts and figures. It’s not the livestock that are to blame. It’s the PEOPLE in charge of the meat industry- the people who decided it was a good idea to raise millions of animals in confinement, being fed food that is resource-intensive to grow (and not even biologically correct for the animals), pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and then shipped all over creation. The 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions is from the industrialization of agriculture- from all the oil it takes to grow the feed, from all the oil it takes to move the animals and meat around the country, from all the coal-based power it takes to refrigerate all that meat in giant warehouses. Where in that line-up did you see something that could be blamed on the animals?
Remember all those juvenile half-jokes about cow farts destroying the planet? Just another way to make livestock responsible for what’s wrong with the world. Well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Air Resources Board, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, and University of California, Davis, have started to prove otherwise.
The study initially was intended to measure the impact of animal manure, urine and flatulence on ozone levels… University of California, Davis researchers, however, found that the bigger ozone culprit appears to be millions of tons of fermenting cattle feed. This previously unrecognized source is likely the reason why ozone levels have not dropped even as the region has implemented control programs, scientists said.
“The take-home is that feed sources might be more important than all of the things we’ve been caring about in the past,” said Michael J. Kleeman, a professor in UC Davis’ department of civil and environmental engineering who was the study’s lead investigator. [emphasis added]
Hmmmmmmm. Well, isn’t that interesting? Where have I heard something like that before?
Why must we vilify agriculture to feel like we care about the “environment”? Has farming not been part of the “environment” for millenia? Wasn’t it only after agriculture was industrialized and corporatized that there arose a problem?
Don’t blame agriculture and the farmers. Hell, go out and hug a real farmer- someone who tends to the well-being of their animals and ensures they live natural lives. And spend your money on their goods. Make them know that they are appreciated and viable. Give them a chance to prove what agriculture can and should be like. You won’t regret it.