(U.S.) "A Sustainable Diet" (The New York Times)
- A Sustainable Diet
June 25, 2013, The New York Times
To the Editor:
Re “ Where Corn Is King, a New Regard for Grass-Fed Beef ” (news article, June 18):
The belief that raising grass-fed cows is “revolutionary” for “the planet and sustainability,” as one of the ranchers you interviewed said, is problematic. While the affluent can afford the more expensive grass-fed products and thus avoid eating cows plied with chemical pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, the vast majority of people will continue to eat the cheapest fare that industrial agriculture can produce.
And even if the world were more equitable, there is simply not enough land to “free range” the enormous number of animals necessary to meet the growing, socially engineered demand. Indeed, agribusiness and the retail food industry are striving to double the consumption of animal products globally by midcentury. To that end, dwindling vital resources such as fresh water, topsoil and fossil fuel, all essential for supporting a growing world population, are being squandered.
Raising animals for food is responsible for as much as 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming is already producing violent storms, floods, severe droughts, wildfires and record temperatures, all of which reduce harvests and make future food shortages all but certain.
The belief that eating grass-fed products helps the planet actually hinders chances for the rise of an urgently needed and truly “revolutionary” movement promoting a global transition to a plant-based diet.
Springfield, Ohio, June 18, 2013
The writer is a professor of sociology at Wittenberg University and the author of “Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism and Global Conflict.”
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