Friday, April 11, 2008

Feeding the World

Right. I said last month that I am not a vegangelical, and I stand by that.

But it needs to be said.

Stop eating meat.

Despite the fact that I am an animal lover, I am not saying this to spare the cute 'n' cuddlies. The simple fact is that we are running out of grain, and eating animals is an inefficient use of grain, and although I sometimes don't like people, it doesn't mean I want a massive food crisis to hit around the globe. It takes 700 calories of grain to produce 100 calories of cow. I don't know about you, but 14% efficiency, to me, is WAY too low.

Some recent reading material:

Grains Gone Wild -- Paul Krugman's editorial from a few days ago.

Farmer's Spurn Conservation Program -- Science/Business Times this week.

First one is straightforward, just read it. Second article... well, do we want to eat or do we want to worry about the birds, as the baker says? Why can't we do both? Cattlemen have the answer:
“This program is taking money out of your pocket twice a day,” said Jay Truitt, vice president for government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Do you think it’s right for you to pay so there’s more quail in Kansas?"

The cattlemen and bakers argue that farmers should immediately be allowed to take as much as nine million acres out of the Conservation Reserve without paying a penalty, something they say would not harm the environment.
Of course the cattlemen want more land out of the conservation program, they need it to feed their meat-producing machinery. What if I want to pay for the land in Kansas? It doesn't matter to me if the price of beef goes up, but it does matter to me if there is less land available for our native birds. (And who made a bunch of bakers and cattlemen experts on what would or would not harm the environment? Probably the same group that decided airlines could monitor themselves.)

Further, one of the demands on the food system is that countries that traditionally haven't eaten much meat (looking at you, China) are starting to adopt American-styles diets, full of beefy goodness. So, as though Americans weren't enough of a strain by themselves, people around the world now want to eat the way we do. And there just isn't enough land to support that lifestyle.

We're not going to get any more land. We have one planet, and that's it.

There's really only one solution. Stop eating meat. It's the easiest thing you can do today to save the world.


metheus said...

Perhaps some day we'll grow square steaks in vast arrays of trays, powered by sunlight, in orbital fake-stake factories. We'll haul them groundside in our space elevator.

Still, maybe for now we should stop eating meat.

Faye said...

I look forward to that day, as long as they're making space-bacon too. MM... space bacon and avocado sandwiches!