As more and more people begin to pay attention to how the food they consume is produced (as evidenced by the popularity and widespread media coverage of documentaries like Food Inc, and books like Eating Animals, The Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation), more and more people are beginning to realize some disturbing facts:
-Many words applied to animal food products are marketing, not meaningful. Words like "cage-free", for example -Other words have meaning, but not to the extent that, again, the marketing might have you believe. Words like "organic", for example
In other words: Cage-free has no regulation tied to it, and is, essentially, meaningless. Organic may mean something about what an animal is fed, but not how. Organic does not equal Humane, and this has become clearer in the last two years or so.
Mostly, the big glaring exception is that there is what's called a "finish feeding period". And this can last up to 120 days. So the last FOUR months of a cow's life can still be miserable...off-pasture and fed unnaturally. You know. Before slaughter, which may still more likely than not be painful and terrifying.
But while my personal choices are based on an animal rights view, I am not one of those who thinks we should forestall animal welfare improvement until some perfect day arrives.
So, I hope these guidelines are a good step, even as I think they don't go nearly far enough!
The bottom line is that going vegan will reduce your own person carbon footprint and contribution to climate change more than driving a hybrid or a myriad of other perfectly nice, but let's be clear, less effective, personal actions.
Now, I also happen to drive a hybrid. And I recycle. And I actually am very good at not over-consuming. I don't shop for clothes hardly ever. I buy my music and books electronically now. I try to shop for local and organic foods (easy for me, living in California.) I work via BlogHer to make our conferences greener.
So, being vegan isn't all I do to be green. But it is the most important thing I do.
And it is the thing I do over which I have the ultimate total and final control.
And if you consider yourself an environmentalist and you aren't doing it, you need to be thinking about why. because the answer is, I bet, going to be about personal pleasure and what you think your preferences are (having often never tried.)
And that, my friends, is the same rationale for driving a Hummer.
Happy Blog Action Day. did you participate? If so, leave a link in the comments, so i can read your thoughts!
Namely: Plenty of superfoods aren't exactly also local foods. Or seasonal foods. But superfood production often gives a livelihood to impoverished communities in developing nations.
What are we to do?
Well, Planet Green has a post to remind us that some of the more exotic superfoods may be trendy, but the health properties in superfoods can be found in more common foods, grown in many parts of the United States, if that is indeed where you dwell, as I do.
While I am swayed by the opportunity to lend support to making a living for the people in those other countries, it's hard to argue against not only the environmental benefits of local, season foods, but also the fact that our own economy isn't doing so great, and plenty of farm workers in this country need our support too.
I already cook with many of the local superfoods Planet Green mention, but next time I hit the store or the Farmer's Market, I think it's time to buy a beet or a pomegranate or two!
So, I'm assuming as a self-respecting Greenie, you've heard of the new documentary Food, Inc. Following in the footsteps of such media as the documentary SuperSize Me, the book and movie Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan's recent best seller The Omnivore's Dilemma, Food, Inc. seeks to make sure we're all aware of exactly where our food comes from...and in most cases, how gross it is.
I want to be excited by the film, but check out its About the Film basic description:
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.
Or check out their About the Issues page. Valid issues all. A huge page of them. And animal issues comprise one throwaway reference to "inhumane conditions". Two words out of that entire page reference the animal issue.
Still, as this is my green blog, not my vegan blog, I think many of you will find their About page a very powerful argument for a very different approach to food in this country.
Martha Stewart gives a shout-out to Food, Inc on her blog. (Will she do an episode on it, though, I wonder? Her show often addresses both health and green issues, so how can she not!?)
The next time you tuck into a nice T-bone, reflect that it probably came from a cow that spent much of its life standing in manure reaching above its ankles. That's true even if you're eating the beef at a pricey steakhouse. Most of the beef in America comes from four suppliers. The next time you admire a plump chicken breast, consider how it got that way. The egg-to-death life of a chicken is now six weeks. They're grown in cages too small for them to move, in perpetual darkness to make them sleep more and quarrel less. They're fattened so fast they can't stand up or walk. Their entire lives, they are trapped in the dark, worrying.
The NY Times feels like there are multiple documentaries nestled inside this one 93-minute attempt to cover the issues. And the Times, too, notes that the movie may expose the animal abuse inherent to our system, but that it focuses much more on the human cost.
One human cost I'm very glad is being covered is how crappy, unhealthy food is way cheaper and more accessible than healthy, fresh food. This is a different kind of divide. May schools and libraries are at least somewhat equipped to address the digital divide. But who is working on overcoming the nutritional divide?
I don't know if I have the stomach (pun intended) to see Food, Inc. But I definitely think all of you should! ;)
For the last few years there has been increasing concern about, and increasing attention paid to, Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where honey bees have been dying off inexplicably and in large numbers, which is not only a concern for the survival of bees, but also for agriculture in general.
While I was away on the first real (and long) vacation I have taken in six years (more on that later) BlogHer was lucky enough to get to send one of our BeautyHacks bloggers to Fashion Week courtesy of American Express. Metalia got a whole lot of backstage and inside access.
That's thrilling enough ( as is his down-to-earth demeanor and advice) but then one of the commenters shared that Tim is not only anti-fur (which I knew, but just an all-around proponent of compassionate fashion (no leather, wool, fur, suede etc.) [You can see Tim narrate this video from PETA, but I warn you, it is extremely graphic. I could not watch more than a little bit, which had me absolutly horrified and sobbing. I decided since I already don't choose fur, leather suede, wool or even silk that it was OK for me to stop watching.]
This unwanted info (picture me with fingers in my ears singing "la la la") comes courtesy of Greenpeace and their Clash of the Consoles site.
Of course, it's not just the Wii...XBox and Playstation don't fare too well either.
So, looks like the cabinet in our living room that holds a Wii, XBox AND a PS2 is a toxic wasteland. Good thing the cabinet is enclosed by glass doors. What? You say those glass doors won't protect us from squat? La la la.
The columnist, Mike Tidwell, says a few things that I have felt like a broken record saying, mostly about how people who consider themselves environmentalists conveniently leave our dietary choices off the table when talking about saving the planet. (Including taking Michael Pollan to task a bit, which I do enjoy.)
He makes the point that our beliefs about food may be so ingrained and, in a way, irrational, that only the most tough talk and moral imperative may sway most folks.
"All of which is to say that for people to care, the climate–food discussion must be about more than just facts, more than pounds of greenhouse gases per units of food. It’s got to be about morality, about right versus wrong. And I don’t mean the usual morality of environmental “stewardship.” Or even the issue of cruelty to farm animals. I’m talking here about cruelty to people, about the explicit harm to humans that results from meat consumption and its role as a driving force in climate change. Knowingly eating food that makes you fat or harms your local fish and birds is one thing. Knowingly eating food that makes children across much of the world hungry is another."
I think it's true. But I also think it's smart of Tidwell to talk about how easy he finds it to be veg*n these days. The first question many people ask me abotu being a veg*n is "Isn't that hard?"
It's a good article. More than that I hope it's an impactful article.
Sigh. The list never ends. Whether it's hidden animal ingredients or testing, unfair business practices or environmental policies, or just plain safety: The list of products to eschew grows longer the more attention you pay.
I think it's safe to say these are modern canaries in the coal mines of our kitchens. And while their lungs may be much, MUCH tinier than ours, so we can all debate how long it would take to kill us...I'm really not comfortable with using something that would kill a bird if I had one. Are you?
Unfortunate that we just received a bunch of Calphalon cookware as wedding gifts. Guess I unknowingly registered to be slowly poisoned.
The question is whether you'll trust that GreenPan is truly safe...or if we just haven't figured out yet how it's dangerous.
I'm torn. I really can't imagine throwing out all of this very new and very expensive cookware. I don't cook a lot or for extended periods. I don't own birds. The EWG mostly wants warnings affixed to warn bird owners, not humans.