Food Choices with Impact
What you buy and what you eat have a significant effect on both your health and your carbon footprint
The effect of your food choices on your health should be obvious. What is less obvious, and in fact may be intentionally obscured by players in the industrial food industry, is that the food you buy also has a dramatic impact on your carbon footprint.
Michael Pollan, in his book, "Omnivore's Dilemma," does a convincing job of revealing the long, hidden tail of petrochemical consumption and waste attached to the majority of our modern food supply. In his discussion of industrial or "commodity" corn, he calculates that it takes more than a calorie of petroleum energy to produce a calorie of food in the form of industrial corn. So here we have a net loss. That loss, of course, is being paid for in our country by us, the tax payers. We are subsidizing both the industrial corn growers and the petroleum industry in order to keep their products priced low.
Pollan moves on to the discussion of industrial beef and tallies up the petroleum requirements to bring that corn-fed meat to your table. He includes in his equation the fact that the U.S. military is called upon to defend our access to cheap fossil fuel and points out that that cost is rarely considered in discussions about food production.
Connect those economic dots, and add in the unhealthy practices and conditions permeating industrial feed lots, and I have an easy decision:
Only eat grass-fed beef, preferably local. Never eat corn-fed beef. That's cut and dry.
Naturally, following through will be not so cut and dry, as identifying reliable, local sources of grass-fed beef will take some doing, and I'm sure the supply will ebb and flow, but after reading Pollan, the alternative of eating corn-fed is simply not tenable. If it means that we end up eating beef less frequently, that's probably all for the better as well.
This page last updated on: 2009-11-29