Start spreading the News

For anyone who’s keeping track, this blog entry marks the third time since arriving at Dulcinea that I’ve used “Start Spreading the News” as an introduction to my piece. But today (well, yesterday, but times are tough) the cause is a really exciting, news-worthy one.

Dulcinea has been cited by a blogger as a news source! Our Beyond the Headlines story, “Warner Backs Blu-ray” has been picked up by a technology blogger. It’s great for the company, and kind of extra-thrilling for me, since initially when I wrote the story I thought the main perk would be telling my dad first-hand that he bought the wrong DVD player.

Another news-worthy thing that’s happened this week is that I’ll now have the New York Times backing me the next time someone throws up his hands in frustration and snaps, “Why can’t you just eat a piece of chicken?”

This week, the “minimalist” Mark Bittman suggests, “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler.” Now Bittman himself is a chef, and not a vegetarian. In what I considered a reasonably unbiased (you might even say minimalist) manner, he explains just how much producing meat costs in dollars, and damage to the environment.

In fact, the point of his article seems to be letting us know that a) Americans eat more than we need–an average of 110 grams a day while the FDA recommends 75 and we probably really only require about 30 and b) it’s getting so expensive to produce that amount of meat that soon, as with oil, we’ll have to accept paying exorbitant prices, or learn to eat less of it.

Either that, or the detrimental path to producing more meat will continue. That includes felling forest, making artificial, engineered live-stock, and using land that could be growing food for people to grow food for cattle.

Now, I’m not one of those vegetarian-almost vegans that hates on people who eat meat. I’ve made a few shabby attempts to not buy leather, and they really only last until I need a new pair of shoes (which, due to my “enthusiasm” for shopping actually is about once every two years.) But this article is something that I think everyone should read, because in my experience, no one has believed me when I’ve delivered a similar, though less, articulate, explanation for why I don’t eat meat.

So, ladies and gentlemen: it’s real. Meat is bad for the world. You read it in the New York Times. And Mom: Yes! I got enough protein. 30 grams a day. All the News that’s Fit to Print. Etc.

I am not suggesting that everyone become a vegetarian. As a vegetarian, I know for a fact that it’s a little harder than Bittman says to feel full and healthy without meat. But I am suggesting that people let this article be food for thought, maybe put a little more thought in their food.

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3 thoughts on “Start spreading the News

  1. Unbiased? Hardly. This article is real facts used to imply wrongdoing that isn’t there. For example:“Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.”This is clearly meant to imply that we’re doing something wrong by eating so much more meat than everyone else. Well, for one thing, Americans eat more of everything than the global average, so it’s hardly a surprise that we eat more meat than your average non-American. But the world average also includes hundreds of millions of people in India, very few of whom ever eat any meat at all. It also includes the dozens of coutries with drastically undernourished populations where meat is simply not available, and countries where rampant poverty makes meat a luxury few can afford. These countries lower the average significantly, thus putting many countries where meat is commonly consumed above the average. So OF COURSE our meat consumption is a greater percentage of the world’s than our population is.Then there’s this sentence:“Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens.”Yes, there are many American farmers switching their crops to corn for the ethanol subsidies and related sales. But the author assumes that if farmers grew fewer animal-feed and ethanol crops, they’d grow more food crops. Wrong. Our government pays our farmers to grow less food than they can to keep prices up; that’s not changing even if our diets do. Another implication is that if our farmers grew more food and less feed the additional food would go to help the hungry and malnourished of the world. How? Hunger is usually caused by a combination of poverty and lack of LOCAL food supply. Unless our farmers or our government donate this supposed new abundance of produce to poor nations, the world’s hungry will stay hungry.And it’s hardly energy-efficient to grow food in America and then ship it all over the world to those who need food. Cargo ships (even those that don’t spill oil all over the ocean) make delivery trucks look eco-friendly. So even if we all switch our feed crops to food crops and even if we all send the resultant glut of food to the people around the world who really need it, there’d be little to no net energy savings.These are hardly the only examples of the author misusing facts to falsely imply misbehavior and evoke guilt.I agree with the article’s premise that the production of meat consumes a lot of oil and creates a lot of greenhouse gas (much more than people realize). But it would be nice if the author would have stuck to only relevant facts and stats and avoided mispackaging so many.

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