Do you claim to care about the climate? Let’s talk about what’s on your plate

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If you claim to care about climate change, we need to talk about food. Particularly about the fantastically unsustainable way of eating in the US. There are a number of issues here, but the biggest one is our relationship with meat and the efficiency of converting food – and therefore carbon – into calories.

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Particularly in the United States, the food supply is highly inefficient, and this manifests itself in many ways. For example, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, 30% of food produced for people in the US is not ultimately consumed by humans.. USDA puts the same number from 30% to 40%. It’s a shame for food to go to waste – unfair in a country where people are starving, and doubly terrible given the global state of affairs – but from an environmental standpoint, most of that food doesn’t spoil on the farm. level. It goes through the entire supply chain – harvesting, processing, preparation, transportation, packaging and presentation in supermarkets or other outlets – before it needs to be discarded. Each step requires additional environmental costs, such as electricity for processing; plastics for packaging; transport that has its own carbon footprint; and so on.

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Reducing waste is certainly important, but most of us don’t consider the other side of the food chain. It turns out that animals are especially inefficient when it comes to delivering calories. Animals on a farm need a lot of food to grow, and in the process they consume food that has to come from somewhere – often grown specifically to feed animals on land that could grow food for humans.

Nutrition scientists who study this kind of thing use the feed conversion rate, a concept that has existed since at least the 1980s. In other words, how many calories of feed does an animal need to consume to create a calorie of edible meat? There is a bunch of different formulas and calculators available online how to define it.

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Take, for example, a cow. For every calorie of edible meat, he needs to eat 25 calories of feed. I understand that a hamburger is more addictive than a piece of bread and there are differences in the type of food, but in a world that tends to be populated by 10 billion people, they all move up in terms of the foods they consume, eating inefficiently seems pretty to me bad choice.

Dairy and beef cows have a second problem. They can eat grass and other foods that humans cannot eat in the process. enteric fermentation. Essentially, ruminants like cows have bacteria in their stomachs that help break down tough plants and cellulose-enriched grains. At the same time, bacteria release a huge amount of methane (CHfour), which cows emit in the form of gases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane is 25 times more harmful than greenhouse gas than CO2and livestock can produce from 250 to 500 liters of methane per day. Multiply this by 25 to get the CO effect.2, and it quickly becomes clear why cows are a problem even before you run them through a grinder to turn them into tasty morsels of food. Of course, there are also wild ruminants – antelopes, giraffes, deer, bison, and so on – but people have been raising sheep and cows for thousands of years, increasing the population and exerting a significant impact. In fact, meat production is 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from food production.

I talk and write quite a bit about climate, and even people who claim to care passionately about climate change and environmental issues often don’t research the food they eat. It’s almost incomprehensible to me: many of us control what you eat, and it seems strange not to use this control to have a positive impact on the environment.

Also, the way animals are treated before they are turned into food is just heartbreaking. If this statement didn’t make you nod in agreement, carve out 90 minutes to watch Earthlings – It’s free and voiced by Joaquin Phoenix. If the earthlings do not convince you, you can always suffer through Dominion, which drives in a point within 2 hours. Yes, also free, also narrated by Phoenix, and will also almost certainly make you skip chicken snacks and beef burgers for at least a couple of weeks.

If animal welfare doesn’t make you think twice, perhaps the environmental impact might. I’m not even saying that you absolutely have to go vegan though Al Gore did it after being confronted with an uncomfortable truth that the consumption of animal products is inconsistent with being a model of environmental protection, but the reduction of animal products has a disproportionate impact on the environment. Eat meat if necessary, but it is better to eat less meat. Eat a steak at your local butcher once a week rather than fast food burgers twice a day. Study the dairy industry and possibly downsize it; At some point in the last few years, I had the misfortune to visit a large dairy farm, and it was unpleasant.

At the very least, make sure you’re knowledgeable enough to make an informed choice, and be prepared to have pesky journalists like me on your grill if you’re bragging about how environmentally friendly your electric car is. solar energy while you eat. irresponsible meat farming. As climate-aware environmentalists, we must take a holistic approach. This should include the food you eat.


The image at the top of this story is Honey. In the pictures she is resting in One living sanctuary, a sanctuary for all living beings run by a friend of mine in Martinez, California. Honey was saved from becoming dinner and lives out her days in a shelter.


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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