CNN tries to discredit the local food movement but rightly points out that raising animals for meat is an optional activity that contributes heavily to global warming.
They talk about how important it is for equatorial regions to have the jobs and money that come from exporting exotic fruits and vegetables to us northerners, ignoring the fact that malnutrition is endemic among third world people and the energy it takes to send us tropical fruit and out-of-season vegetables would be better spent feeding the third world–but, just as with grain for gasohol rather than tortillas, los ricos blancos have outbid los pobres, and Economics Almighty doth rule…. “the invisible hand” smites who it listeth….and of course, there’s the legal drug trade–coffee…I mean, we have got to have our coffee, right? But just say no to drugs….
By Rachel Oliver
(CNN) — Eating ethically is no easy task these days. One problem is deciding which ethic is more important. Keeping third-world farmers in fair trade jobs by purchasing their produce? Or assuaging your concerns over the environmental impact of getting that produce to your kitchen by shopping locally instead?
Up until recently it has been the latter concern — how food is transported — that has hogged the limelight when it comes to looking at the role the food chain plays in climate change. Statistics such as the fact that the average American meal travels on average 1,500 miles before it gets to the diner’s plate, have led to stronger backing for “grow locally” movements.
But the local food movement has been greeted with dismay by the developing world — and for good reason.
According to the UK-based Food Climate Research Network (FCRN), as many as 1.5 million people in the developing world, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa, depend on the export horticulture market. Agricultural exports, meanwhile, have been partly to thank for Africa’s economic growth rates of around 5 per cent a year, according to the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
British shoppers alone spend more than $2 million every single day on fruit and vegetables imported from Africa. Encouraging them to shop locally instead of buying imported produce from the developing world could obviously have disastrous consequences for third-world farmers.
This just shows how totally screwed up our economic system really is….
Meat and methane: climate killers?
There is, of course, one other major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the food chain: Meat.
Back in 2006, the FAO revealed that rearing livestock produced more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector — 18 percent of the world’s entire greenhouse gas emissions.
Notably, livestock production generates 37 percent of human-induced methane and 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide emissions. Methane has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2; the impact of nitrous oxide meanwhile is a staggering 296 times more powerful.
Meat and dairy represent 50 percent of “total food related impacts”, according to the Climate Action Program. And in terms of the fossil fuel bill meat runs up, for that family of four who is using up 930 gallons of fossil fuel a year on food, 265 gallons of it goes towards putting meat on their table.
Going vegetarian, or vegan, therefore is being increasingly suggested as one of the best ways to slash our carbon contributions. A University of Chicago study found, for example that meat-eaters individually emit 1.5 more tons of emissions a year than vegetarians or vegans; and according to the OCA, it takes 8 times as many fossil fuels to produce animal protein than their plant equivalent.
Being vegetarian is by no means a panacea, however, as even the OCA concedes that eating a 2 kg box of vegetarian-friendly cereal is the equivalent of burning half a gallon of gasoline.
But perhaps banking on everyone going vegetarian fails to take into account one simple fact: 1.4 billion people work in the global livestock sector and rely on meat-eaters for their livelihoods.
How one would go about telling 1.4 billion people to shut up shop is anyone’s guess.
The same way we tell millions of coal miners and their wealthy bosses to shut up shop–what they are doing is going to get us all killed, and there’s plenty that will help us live that ain’t getting done…