Archive for the 'Hungry Americans' Category

New planetary burden: Meat-eating pets

March 22, 2009

Paul Greenberg opines today in the New York Times that dogs and cats should go vegan. Writing about his cat, Greenberg says,

Coco, like most American cats, ate fish. And a great deal of them — more in a year than the average African human, according to Jason Clay at the World Wildlife Fund. And unlike the chicken or beef Coco also gobbled up, all those fish were wild animals, scooped out of the sea and flown thousands of carbon-belching miles to reach his little blue bowl.

The use of wild fish in animal feed is a serious problem for the world’s food systems. Around a third of all wild fish caught are “reduced” into fish meal and fish oil. And yet most of the outrage about this is focused not on land-based animals like Coco but on other fish — namely farm-raised fish.

But if you feel that a vegan pet would “go against nature,” Greenberg says you should “rethink a pet’s potential footprint before acquiring one”:

A carnivore, be it a cat, a dog or a salmon, is a heavy burden for the environment and should not be brought under human care lightly. In my family, this has become a topic of debate as we consider our next animal. Coco was an interesting and unique creature, and I argue that he cannot be replaced. To me, a vegetarian substitute is seeming more and more appealing. Lately, I’ve had my eye on a guinea pig.

Hats off to the New York Times for allowing Greenberg to share his thoughts with the world — otherwise, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Michelle Obama’s Political Gardening

March 20, 2009

The Obama-smitten mainstream media lapped up First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement that she and 5th graders from a local elementary school were going to plant and maintain a vegetable garden at the White House. The New York Times reported,

While the organic garden will provide food for the first family’s meals and formal dinners, its most important role, Mrs. Obama said, will be to educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables at a time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern.

While we’re all for teaching kids about gardening, Michelle Obama’s garden is more about raising green ideologues than green vegetables:

  • “Locally grown” food is a green euphemism for their fight against imports and exports of food. The Greens don’t want you eating Chilean grapes in the winter or French wine anytime, for example.
  • Organic food, of course, is a symbol of the green movement. The sad truth is that organic food is actually harder on the environment than conventionally grown food, requiring more land, water and labor.

The Times acknowledged the garden’s politics as such, reporting that,

The question had taken on political and environmental symbolism, with the Obamas lobbied for months by advocates who believe that growing more food locally, and organically, can lead to more healthful eating and reduce reliance on huge industrial farms that use more oil for transportation and chemicals for fertilizer.

What will Michelle Obama grow? According to the Times:

The Obamas will feed their love of Mexican food with cilantro, tomatillos and hot peppers. Lettuces will include red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead, red leaf and galactic. There will be spinach, chard, collards and black kale. For desserts, there will be a patch of berries. And herbs will include some more unusual varieties, like anise hyssop and Thai basil. A White House carpenter, Charlie Brandts, who is a beekeeper, will tend two hives for honey.

Wouldn’t you like your own taxpayer-paid beekeeper?

What’s the lesson for the 5th graders? That they, too, can grow up to be elitist and get glowing PR for hornswoggling children and federal employees into growing fancy vegetables to promote your anti-people political views and to feed your exotic palate?

The Times also noted,

But the first lady emphasized that she did not want people to feel guilty if they did not have the time for a garden: there are still many changes they can make.

“You can begin in your own cupboard,” she said, “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.”

Aside from the nutritional value offered by a great deal of processed foods, what about all the people who work in or whose jobs depend on the processed foods industry?

Let them eat home-grown berries when they’re put out of work?

Finally, there’s Alice Waters, the San Franciso-based “slow food” advocate and Obama fundraiser. Waters likened the White House garden to the World War II “victory gardens,” telling the Associated Press that,

“To have this sort of ‘victory’ garden, this message goes out that everyone can grow a garden and have free food.”

Free food?

Anyone who has gardened knows first -and that home-grown vegetables can hardly be considered as “free.” Between the water, seeds, fertilzer/compost, pest control, labor and worry, gardening is hardly “free.”

But then again, if you’re the first lady and White House employees and children are doing all the work, and taxpayers are picking up all the costs, maybe there really is such a thing as a free veggies.

Greens move to wreck ethanol industry

March 9, 2009

Green is a cutthroat business. Just ask the ethanol industry.

As part of its proposed low-carbon fuel standard, the California Air Resources Board has proposed that so-called “indirect land use change” impacts be included in the calculation of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for biofuels, like corn-based ethanol. The proposal states,

Carbon intensities are calculated under the LCFS on a full lifecycle basis. This means that the carbon intensity value assigned to each fuel reflects the GHG emissions associated with that fuel’s production, transport, storage, and use. In addition to these direct GHG emissions, some fuels create emissions due to indirect land use change effects. An indirect land use change impact is initially triggered when an increase in the demand for a crop-based biofuel begins to drive up prices for the necessary feedstock crop. This price increase causes farmers to devote a larger proportion of their cultivated acreage to that feedstock crop. Supplies of the displaced food and feed commodities subsequently decline, leading to higher prices for those commodities. The lowest-cost way for many farmers to take advantage of these higher commodity prices is to bring non-agricultural lands into production. These land use conversions release the carbon sequestered in soils and vegetation. The resulting carbon emissions constitute the “indirect” land use change impact of increased biofuel production.

According a report in today’s Carbon Control News, environmentalists support this proposal, which would:

  • Make it more difficult for corn-based ethanol to be classified as a low-carbon fuel in California — and perhaps elsewhere as the green-bug that bites California often spreads to other states; and
  • Discourage increased agricultural production of food intended to make-up for crop acreage lost to ethanol production.

The point here is not to cry for the rather unsympathetic ethanol industry — a group that tried to ride the green wave to the detriment of our country’s energy and food supply.

The point is that when you (the biofuels industry and everyone else) lie down with dogs (greens) you get up with fleas. No disrespect to dogs intended.