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LQD: Monbiot: Meat a worse crime than biofuels.

by Sassafras Tue Apr 15th, 2008 at 02:16:01 PM EST

George Monbiot in today's Guardian.

At 2.1bn tonnes, the global grain harvest broke all records last year - it beat the previous year's by almost 5%. The [food] crisis, in other words, has begun before world food supplies are hit by climate change. If hunger can strike now, what will happen if harvests decline?

There is plenty of food. It is just not reaching human stomachs. Of the 2.13bn tonnes likely to be consumed this year, only 1.01bn, according to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation, will feed people.

Of course we must demand that our governments scrap the rules that turn grain into [biofuels]. But there is a bigger reason for global hunger, which is attracting less attention only because it has been there for longer. While 100m tonnes of food will be diverted this year to feed cars, 760m tonnes will be snatched from the mouths of humans to feed animals - which could cover the global food deficit 14 times.


Meat is, as is well known (figures in the article), an inefficient use of the world's resources.

In his magazine The Land, Simon Fairlie...found that a vegan diet produced by means of conventional agriculture would require only 3m hectares of arable land (around half Britain's current total). Even if we reduced our consumption of meat by half, a mixed farming system would need 4.4m hectares of arable fields and 6.4 million hectares of pasture. A vegan Britain could make a massive contribution to global food stocks.

However, anyone to whom veganism is an appealing prospect is probably a vegan already.  Monbiot tried, but couldn't maintain his health in the long term.  I have been vegetarian for almost half my life, but veganism would be a painful step up, even for me.

Fairlie estimates that if animals were kept only on land that is unsuitable for arable farming, and given scraps and waste from food processing, the world could produce between a third and two-thirds of its current milk and meat supply.

At a rough estimate, given that Britons consume 40% more meat than the world average, this means that, if the reduced meat production were equitably distributed, we would have to learn to live with approx 50-75% less meat.  

That looks achievable (says the vegetarian). Unfortunately, there's still more to consider, and the milk I had on my cereal this morning leaves me no room for complacency:

But this system then runs into a different problem. The Food and Agriculture Organisation calculates that animal keeping is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.

His conclusion:

The only reasonable answer to the question of how much meat we should eat is as little as possible. Let's reserve it - as most societies have done until recently - for special occasions.

Or, in other words:

If you care about hunger, eat less meat.

Poll
Have you/are you prepared to reduce your meat consumption?
. Veganism is for wimps-go fruitarian! 3%
. I am a vegan, and could be excused for feeling smug right now. 7%
. I am a vegetarian, and now still feeling guilty. Thanks. 11%
. I am a vegetarian/occasional meat-eater, which is enough. 11%
. I'd rather cycle than eat tofu. 15%
. Fish aren't animals...are they? 7%
. If it weren't for bacon sandwiches... 11%
. STEAK! The bloodier, the better... 30%

Votes: 26
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Someone needs to tackle all the problems with this argument.  I know they are there, but I am too tired to do it, as a result of my protein-deficient diet.  Can. barely. lift. finger.. to... typ


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Apr 15th, 2008 at 02:43:59 PM EST
Bacon sandwiches and steak sandwiches were the hardest to give up.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Apr 15th, 2008 at 09:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just a problem of animal production (meat, dairy, eggs) but the intensive mode of production, and the integration of crops into the process -- practically speaking, the maize (corn) and soy system is almost entirely (bar biofuel use) pointed at intensive poultry, pork, beef and dairy production. So we have a top-heavy system of factory farming (batteries, feed-lots) and a great deal of arable land dedicated to industrial inputs into that system. The outcomes are pollution by the different industrial stages of the process, and poor-quality but "cheap" products.

Compare this to a system where animal production is extensive (using grasslands and marginal lands) and less arable is used for "intensifying" inputs like maize and soy. There'd be a lot less pollution, and better-quality products. There'd also be a lot less in terms of quantity, and the price would be higher. Personally, that's the way I think things should go. Eating less, but better-quality and more expensive, animal products is fine by me, it's what I do.

However, the mass marketing of "cheap" factory-farm products has an appeal that (though it is easy to argue against) is hard to persuade against. In almost all human cultures, eating meat has a festive aspect, and when people can get meat cheaply they go for it. Eating vegetables and cereals appears humdrum by comparison and above all confers no prestige: you're "eating spaghetti" (or rice, or bread, or potatoes) meaning you're too poor to do better. Having meat on the table daily means you're doing well. The mythology is more important than the reality (of the nutritional quality of the intake, of the environmental problems caused).

So there's rising demand for meat in emerging economies where urban populations are seeing average incomes rise. And, to accompany this, the growth of environment-unconscious factory farming. And who are we in the developed world, who invented the intensive production techniques used and have had more than our fair share of glutting on meat, to stop them?

We might at least change our own consumption and production to show that things can be done differently, but we're still a long way from that. Intensivist-productivist methods are in fact gaining ground, with the introduction of GM crops in particular -- backed by the argument that we have to "feed the world". (Read: feed intensive animal production).

What may seem obvious to us doesn't appear so to the vast majority, and the commercial forces are formidable. Things don't look too hopeful.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 03:14:33 AM EST
The obvious thing to do is to smear cheap, industrial meat as only being suitable for the poor. I happen to think it's not really even suitable for my dogs.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 03:31:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a tricky one. I like my food, and cooking and offering taste experiences to others is an important part of my life. But since I went semi-Montignac, I've made a lot more veg dishes. With a full collection of spices, it's possible to make a huge range of dishes. I'm currently experimenting with new ways of serving spinach.

My meat or fish portions tend to be very small - but sort of indespensible - except for sushi where a slab of fresh caught salmon tends to disappear rather quickly.

I also buy a lot of pulses from the Indian shops in Helsinki.

I had a client making soy chunks a couple of year ago and tested a lot of different recipes using their product. But I found the texture really hard to handle. I still occasionally test new recipes but I've ever been happy enough to offer soy chunks to my guests.

Milk I'd find hard to be without. The perfect cup of tea, for me, needs a splash of milk. Other that use that I maybe use 500 ml max a week of dairy products in sauces etc.

I guess I could really cut down on meat, but I don't regard myself as a major offender.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:56:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
500 ml. a week?

wow. Let's see - about 2 l. of milk, 250-300 ml of cream, 350g. of butter and 1.5 kg of cheese.

Meatwise - 1-1.5 kg, including seafood.

by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No butter for me - just rape seed oil. I've moved off olive oil since I've tasted virgin canola (made in Finland). However I do use Ghee in my Indian dishes.

Meatwise about the same for me, but not counting guests.

BTW I use 7% fat cream and low fat yoghurts, buttermilk and Quark - whatever that mght be in English.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:19:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you cook with 7% cream? I tend to use 'heavy' cream which is I think 30-35%. and isn't rapeseed oil completely tasteless?

btw quark - roughly cottage cheese.

by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:23:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I use this stuff. mixed with other dairy - usually plain yoghurt (remember to add at low temperature).

Virgin rape oil is very tasty!

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess it must be all the vowels they put in it.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:43:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Vowels for the Bowels"

Did you not know this is the Finnish motto?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:45:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quark  ;)
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:25:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just don't cook with cream very often, but on those odd occasions I tend to find the richest organic farmhouse cream I can. Likewise with butter - we haven't had any in the house for weeks now, but I try to cook with the best I can find when I do. What's the point otherwise?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:26:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cream and milk in cooking I find quite easy to substitute with soy or oat based substitute products. Good for the lactose intolerant guests too. Though I have yet to find any that works when the cream or milk is a central piece - say milk and cereals, or something or another with whipped cream. Then the nuances in texture and taste matters. But in cooking you can compensate more and after some experimenting and learning, it works just as good.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cream and milk in cooking I find quite easy to substitute with soy or oat based substitute products.

soy based cream sauces? ugh.

by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:29:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That just triggers my "make something else" alert. Like soy proteins (or whatever they use)  pretending to be meat.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:39:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is quite easy to substitute in a spicey dish. You are mainly going for texture, thickness and moistness with these dishes when you add other creamers rather then the specific taste of the cream.

I like to use a lot of yoghurt in marinades and in mongol cooking (long and slow and sealed)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But isn't yoghurt more-or-less authentic for mongol cooking? Assuming you don't have a herd of horses handy.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:55:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It certainly can taste original with yoghurt - but you need the ghee. The main benefit of yoghurt is in how it breaks down the meat fibres, rather than the taste.

I got an old Danish iron casserole at the flea market, that has a perfect seal due to the weight of the lid. And though I cook on ceramic, it is easy to get the mongol pot to simmer minimally. It is an excellent type of coooking for those chefs whose sense of time may become distorted.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I cook Thai I use coconut milk, not cream. When I cook traditionally olive oil based stuff, I use that, not butter. But cuisines were developed on certain ingredients. You simply can't make French or northern Italian without butter and cream. Similarly it would be a bit difficult to make Chinese butter and cream based - you could try, and perhaps fiddling around you might make something edible, but why?
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:04:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I ALWAYS forget to buy the coconut milk. I fool most people by tossing in some dessicated. I probably wouldn't fool you, though ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not that hard to make if you've got the dried stuff at home - or so it seems from what I've read, I honestly just always have a can or two around.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:22:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason, coconut is not a big hit in Finland - but turmeric they can't get enough of. Ever since I heard that strep throat was almost unknown in India, and that turmeric has been identified as specific, it gets into a lot of my cooking. I don't think I've ever served white rice to my guests - thought might also be pink due to Sumach.....

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I find soymilk foams more easily for making capuccino than real milk does. And ripe avocado spreads more easily than butter and tastes better.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:53:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
haven't tried foaming it myself, I have tasted soy lattes from a friend - rather different taste. Avocado - fine for some things but in general I prefer butter. I generally eat avocado with bread on its own, or sometimes with butter ;)
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:57:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Soy milk is an inexcusable culinary tragedy.

Rice milk is the perfect substitute for cereals. Unfortunately I've never seen a rice cream. (Do they even exist?)

I buy organic milk for tea, and very occasionally organic cream. But I think dairy production is a relatively minor distraction from intensive meat farming.

If you have a dead cow someone might as well eat it. It's when you have millions of dead cows being farmed, killed, cut up, processed and shipped around the world that you have to start asking questions about efficiency.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 09:19:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find soy milk neutral in tea. If I now put dairy milk into tea, I find it has a strong "cow" flavour.

Modern dairy farming is very intensive and polluting. (It also feeds the meat market, most of the cheaper supermarket cuts being dairy cow or heifer).

Yet I'm not suggesting people should boycott cows' milk and derived products (unless for personal health reasons). What is objectionable is the amount of marketing/advertising/packaging/shelf space devoted to small volumes of low-quality milk turned into various yoghurts and other more or less fermented products, creamy desserts, and intestinal stimulants, sold at high prices : industrial dairy production feeding straight into a marketing-based food industry sector. I don't know what the ratio of raw material to abusively "manufactured" added value (the marketing, ads, packaging, merchandising) in the cost price is, but the  continuous pressure to bring down the price paid to the dairy farmer leads directly to increased intensification and the debasement of the product. Better-quality producers and products, such as traditional cheeses, are increasingly marginalised (even in France).

But, as with meat, the marketing works. It's not easy to see how to turn the situation round.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:15:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's like almost any finite resource.  Oil, trees, minerals...we've overconsumed, and now need the rest of the world not to catch up to our levels while we do a very poor job/no job at all of cutting back.

One thing about which I've never been sure, though, is the practicality/viability of organic/non-intensive agriculture without animals as part of the mix?  In crop rotation, haven't the nitrogen-fixers traditionally been used as animal food?

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think anyone's suggesting doing without animals - just that the industrial farming of animals is totally unsustainable. Animal farming used to be done by grazing on marginal land or, as you point out, by using marginal products as feed, as opposed to using prime land to intensively produce cattle feed.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:19:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the big agricultural progresses of the modern era (from the 16th century onwards) was actually introducing grass into the crop rotation, instead of letting the prime land fallow (see this wikipedia page...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 08:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on the region and its climate and its weather patterns.

Generally speaking, a diverse farm operation, including animals, produces more food value/acre than a comparable specialized farm.  That's because a diversified farm has more than one use for a particular piece of land, e.g., using the orchard for sheep grazing (grass & windfalls) and hay production.

To answer your question, yes.  Typical nitrogen fixers are clover or alfalfa.  Typically they are planted with grass to provide pasture/hay.  The animals graze the pasture and their dropping help fertilizer the ground.  An additional benefit to using the ground this way is that it helps to break disease and pest cycles.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 11:00:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're forgetting the nitrogen-fixing pulses: peas, beans, lentils, etc, that should be part of human nutrition even for non-vegetarians.

For our local food co-op, I deal with two organic farmers. One provides us with wheat flour, rapeseed and sunflower oil: he has beef cattle to feed manure into the system. His neighbours don't have animals, and put chick peas and lentils (that we buy from them) into the crop rotation.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:29:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did write, "Generally."  :-þ      

:-)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 07:58:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I posted this before, but I think it is important enough to post again. The factor in meat production that is often forgotten is water. This is from a book, by Gabriel Cousins, MD,thus no link and since the book has been published in 2000 the numbers might not be up-to-date.

Livestock use approximately 50% of all water consumption in the US. Livestock produce twenty times the excrement as the human population of the US. This increases the nitrate/nitrit water pollution. Extensive water use for livestock is pushing us closer t a clean water shortage. It requires 60-100 times more water to produce beef a pound of beef than a pound of wheat.

Livestock requires excessive water usage because the land needed to grow grain for livestock takes up 80% of the grain produced, and water is needed for the animals. When one considers the water needed for this extra grain and for the care of livestock, a flesh-food diet creates the need for 4500 gallons per day per meat-eater as compared to 300 gallons peer day for a vegan. A vegan saves approximately 1'500'000 gallons per year compared to a flesh- and diary eater.

We simply cannot escape the fact that raising animals for meat and diary has a disastrous effect on our ecological system. Us livestock regularely eat enough grain and soy to feed the US population five times over.

The total world livestock regularly eat about twice the calories as the human world population.

By cycling our plant protein through the beef, the conversion of beef protein is between one-tenth and one-twentieth of the plant protein yield. This is a 100% loss of complex carbohydrates and a 95% loss of calories, and calorie resources when so many people in this world suffer from malnutrition.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 01:47:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I am no vegetarian and hope not to need to become one, but I do try to eat less meat (although not always with a dedicated plan -there is also the fact that salad or vegetable soup does not require too much planning for the evening).

So, I buy one piece of meat (or fish) at the market, most weeks.

But...
-at the company cantine, you can't find any decent vegetarian dish most days. I almost invariably have it when there is, but it's rare. And just eating the side vegetables is not very appealing, they are not cooked in order to be on their own. I think it's a shame that it's not more frequent.
-you pretty much cannot be invited and not have meat.

As a result, I still eat more meat than I would if it were culturally more common. And that even though I aim to have rarer but better meat products... So there's a long way to go before it's a general thing.

While waiting for that, I'll try to make do with things that don't really require an extra animal -parts that don't sell all that much. For example, "boudin noir", made with blood, well, I'm sure in most cases there is more available than can be sold, so it does not really involve extra breeding.

But there remains the problem of milk. There really is no easy way out of that. But there is a lot of room for improvement. To start with, a lot of the food is simply thrown away in our countries. That surely can be helped. As can over-consumption.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 08:52:36 AM EST
Bove was on 4 verites y'day talking about this and the food crisis.

He cited a stat that somethng like 30% of the US corn crop was being diverted to biofuels, and also that the majority of south american arable land had been given over to soybean production for raising livestock.

Meat is murder. Well, meat in excess anyway. I don't think one needs more than a serving or two of it a week for good health even if you are an athlete.

But so too is biofuel production.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:11:06 PM EST
Adding, if y'all think we can get to a point where the market isn't killing the poor in this world, it's necessarily going to take government coercion, some of which will be unpalatable to those of us of more social libertarian bent.

I understand not liking it. But there it is.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:12:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
I don't think one needs more than a serving or two of it a week for good health

I believe you do not need meat at all to stay healthy and is often even tastier. Balanced vegetarian food provides everything the body needs. Though I have no problem with people eating meat once or twice a week. That would already be a improvement  healthwise for most people. Most people today eat more meat and proteins than the body can metabolise and discharge - thus in my opinion the reason for many chronic health problems.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooops, I should have read it once more before hitting the post button.

Fran:

I believe you do not need meat at all to stay healthy and is often even tastier. Balanced vegetarian food provides everything the body needs.

Should read: I believe you do not need meat at all to stay healthy. Balanced vegetarian food provides everything the body needs and is often even tastier.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:25:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
half true - tastier is a matter of taste.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:30:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I myself havent eaten meat in near enough 20 years, and know quite a few people whos meat consumption is 40 years back. We're all healthy, and happy.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:31:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sort of like celibacy - works for some people, but not quite everyone.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And is considered to confer holiness by some practitioners.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well I'm not on the holiness side, I'm just of the opinion that the chemicals they put into cows are far more likely to effect me than the chemicals they put into carrots.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about that. Some of the chemicals they put in carrots are pretty scary. I try to avoid too much chemical laden meat anyhow: small amounts of organic or thereabouts rather than the glow-in-the-dark stuff.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:22:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fortunately this is nearby.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:35:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And for the rest of us there's this.

Actually, I'm sure if I put some effort into it I could find a bunch of local markets to go to on weekends for produce...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:38:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure you're right.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 08:34:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I'm right either, but it does rather throw a spoke in the wheels of people who argue that it's dubious morality that leads people to vegetarianism.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 11:00:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL!
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For me its now almost 25 years since I eaten meat and I never regreted it. If I look at my friend, those of my friends who are vegetarians seem to be healthier and more energetic than my friends that eat meat.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bicycles are murder.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:23:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
???
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Makes as much sense as "meat is murder".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:29:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
will do when they make bycicles in abatoirs.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just know there's a bike made of bones somewhere.

But you could have used the resources to make the bike to do something useful for someone starving in some part of the world. QED.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you have statistics on the amount of resources it takes to build a bicyle, and can compare that to the resource savings produced by using a bicycle rather than motorized transit powered by fossil fuels?

Otherwise, I utterly fail to see your point.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:41:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're powering a bycicle with a meat based diet, I wonder how environmentally friendly bycicles actually are?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 05:39:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That I am not, and honestly I don't know any who compete who actually do.

It's not a healthy diet, really, especially the nasty cholesterol-laden protein you get from industrial-raised livestock, research on which is in nascent stages.

Linda McCartney's race team was quite competitive on an all vegetarian diet, the jury's out on what sorts of proteins are the best; but either way, the average man in western europe certainly doesn't need more than 200 grams of protein or so per day taking as average a 180cm man at 75kg as roughly average. Add to this a supplement for recovery in the case of athletes (which most people I know, including me, take in combination with a complex carb base mixed with whey solids, so not exactly meat) and you are about right for diet needs.

And not all of that protein need come from meat sources.

I'm not saying being a vegetarian makes you a saint, and for the record i'm not a vegetarian. But McBouffe is not only bad for you, it is unsustainable.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:04:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There seems to be a confusion between four different issues here: environment, sustainability, health, and taste.

The last is just that - for those of us who love the taste of meat and dairy it's a pointless exercize.

Health - not really my main concern, and just like you can put together a veggie diet that is healthy, you can do the same for a non-veggie one.  

environment - like so much else, both animal and non-animal products can be produced in a more or less environmentally friendly way.

sustainability - that's the big one. But no, I don't feel particularly guilty.

My philosophy is to make those sustainability/environmental choices which are cause less inconvenience to me or, ideally, which I actually prefer, rather than make huge sacrifices (in the subjective sense). So I have no car, I live in a densely packed city, relying on walking and mass transit exclusively, and I tend to eat local organic stuff to the extent I can afford to. And I suspect that's what most of us do.

by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are agitating for local farmer's markets in our town. We are surrounded by farms, but nobody carries local produce except on special fair days about 4 times a year. This is where you buy the garlic jam and marinade mushrooms that'll get you through the winter.

I don't quite understand the economics. Why don't we see a full range of produce? Supply and demand, I guess.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The core consumers are the environmental types, the health nuts, and the obsessive foodies like me. New York's got plenty of all, often combined. I've got two local greenmarkets (i.e. within easy walking distance) and then there's the main one at Union Square in Manhattan - that I visit in its Saturday incarnation when I feel like a trip to foodie heaven. One nice thing is that they don't just supply produce - meat, fish, dairy - all there. On the down side the produce selection is rather limited from late fall through mid spring and none of this stuff is cheap.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In some ways I become a different person when shopping for food. Price goes out the window, and I am happy to chat inanely with vendors about arcane food matters. Food shopping is the only shopping I enjoy. Everything else is just logiistics.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:44:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For me it's food, cooking equipment, and books. Clothes and shoes - yuck, get twitchy just thinking about it - probably why I tend to put it off until they've literally fallen to pieces.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 07:00:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This I can dig. I designed my kitchen like a sushi bar so guests have to sit and talk to me rather than going off into another room and laughing about things I can't follow.

Right behind the counter is Lundia shelving which holds all the things I need when I am cooking (hardware/software) - within arm's reach. Between the counter and the back shelves is quite narrow - maybe 7500 mm. That is where I hold court, and to where only my closest friends dare to invade ;-) (although bartenders seem to instinctively gravitate there - one told me that he feels safer behind the counter)


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 07:19:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
7500mm, narrow ?!? (says the Paris 35 square meters appartment inhabitant)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 08:24:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry one too many zeros - 75 centimetres

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Finland has a short growing season and with everyone planting at the same time the crops mature at the same time meaning you'd have to buy your entire years supply of whatever all at once, and store them, or the farmers have to store the produce and dribble them out over the year.  My guess is most people don't have the space to stock a couple of tons of veggies and the farmers cannot afford to purchase the storage equipment and absorb the costs of running 'em.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 11:16:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Canning, man, canning.

Like our grandparents...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 12:26:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Freezing is the better, cheaper, and more versatile technology for unprocessed food preservation.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 10:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet another achievement of the mighty Welsh Imperium

It was the Welsh (Not very far from InWales place) who worked out how to can Beer.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 10:57:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And beer always tastes colder out of a can.

I never did understand the bottle thing...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 12:43:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do Finnish farmers have the right to sell their produce directly? French farmers can sell their stuff on the farm, at roadside stands, or on public markets.

Hence a "farmers' market" doesn't really apply as a term here. Farmers can have market stalls in with the retailers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:45:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Food regulations are quite strict in Finland, though I don't know how this might affect farmer's markets. But one of our local supermarkets is now offering local produce.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to add that during the summer you can buy berries, veg. mushrooms, flowers etc roadside at farm entrances.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 05:02:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a very very fair point, and ultimately, it comes down to footprint.

There are many ways to cut the pear in two.

Perhaps, the best way is to work towards making the choices you and I are able to make more available to those who are not necessarily so able?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can make a bicycle out of bamboo.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:30:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very very cool.

I guaranteed I'd break it though. I break the composite ones, roughly one a year.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:40:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good quality steel frame is the way to go - durable, comfortable and the price/quality ratio is great.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ABS - Bamboo Bicycle
But Flavio makes me see things differently: Bamboo is a resource of immense potential. And it is strong too. What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact.
So steel joints and bamboo shafts?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:52:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i hear you, but i actually broke one of those a few years back that i was spring training on. a bianchi, so not crap. always break them on the seat tube right above the bottom bracket.

prefer aluminum though. twitchier, more responsive, crisper cornering, feel the road better, and also these days cheaper than, or at least comparable to, a good steel frame. plus, recyclable. I just recycled one a month ago.

steel is a good ride too, softer, more forgiving on the back (fortunately mine's good anyhow) but it's usually too heavy to race on.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like you're much more serious a rider than me.   I never race, and typically peak at anywhere from 60-100 miles of a lazy casual ride in a given season. So the softness is a plus, while the other stuff mostly not that important or even negative e.g. twitchiness (skis on the other hand I want as responsive as possible - the reason why better skis are much worse for beginners - always fun to see the ones with too much money and too little sense) Plus I've never broken a bike - been riding the same one since before college and it still serves me well, though maintenance and upgrades have cost quite a bit more over the years than a new bike.
by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 07:19:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like my Surly steel frame bike - rides true and like a tank in San Francisco traffic.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 12:02:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:38:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's just creepy and cool at the same time. I'm sure Tim Burton owns one.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 06:41:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it takes more arable land to produce beef than it does to produce the same amount of calories of rice, beans, wheat or sorghum, and people who are dependent upon the latter for sustenance are starving because food prices are rising due to beef production for the tastes of rich nations, then meat is murder.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clothes are murder. Could have grown food instead.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:41:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a point to this, Colman?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:41:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, just throwing pointless hyperbole around the place. I thought that was what we were doing?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:45:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And here I though you were just trolling.

Looked more like it, anyway.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 04:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Arrogant Worms: Carrot juice is murder


I must add, in fairness, that they're the same people who sing I am cow.


You're clearly a dangerous pinko commie pragmatist.

by Vagulus on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 08:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what Michael Pollan says in his latest, In Defense of Food:An Eater's Manifesto.  Worth checking out if you get the chance.  

Eating "mostly plants" is a lot easier when they taste good. I just started to eat more vegetables, and Mark Bittman's new cookbook helps me do that.

Even tofu.

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 08:36:45 PM EST
I don't know if he mentions it in his book - but vegetable tastes have been a major casualty of their selection for supermarket, where ability to look good and normal for a long time in a supermarket stall, and easiness of transportation, are the major aims ; predictably, as it is not selected for any more, taste declines. Some of the stuff that passes as tomatoes, even here in France, is barely edible !

What about EU norms for taste !?!

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 05:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, taste is selected against: strong tastes put some people off, so they weaken the taste, so people are even less used to them and they weaken them some more.

Once we're all eating polystyrene and cotton wool with a side of vitamin tablets they'll be happy.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 07:06:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It used to be the popular wisdom around here, when shopping for fruit in the local market, that one would prefer those who shown signs of being picked by birds... a sign for taste and sweetness.

Now get that into a supermarket or regulation...

by Torres on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 10:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the advantages of organic produce is that it usually tastes of something.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:53:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, he talks about the industrialization of food.  Which leads to "taste" being shoved to the end of a long line of requirements.

The book is a short, well written argument against the kind of manufactured food that the US is now sending around the world.  It's full of footnotes and experts, but the writing is accessible and meant for a general audience.

He gives a little history lesson, covering the last 100 years or so.  "Nutritionism" is how the manufacturing process makes its way into your food. Scientists do studies that identify specific nutrients and vitamins that are healthy.  That gives agri-business a target to efficiently chase, to the exclusion of all the other benefits of whole food that didn't fit into the study.  

He comments that if anything in the store is touting health benefits on it's package, you shouldn't buy it.  The reason being that in order to get the desired level of nutrients, as given by the scientific studies, the food is stripped of all the other nutritional benefits during it's processing.

He points the finger at business, gov, and science for our current problems. In my mind business is the main culprit for bribing/corrupting the other two, though the government and scientific communities aren't blameless.

Whenever I try to summarize a book I like, I always want to add a statement at the end.  Something like "Please don't let my sloppy writing or inelegant arguments get in the way of you looking at this book."

 

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 01:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scientists do studies that identify specific nutrients and vitamins that are healthy.  That gives agri-business a target to efficiently chase, to the exclusion of all the other benefits of whole food that didn't fit into the study.  

If only that, but I'm afraid the order is reversed ; the industry asks for "this food is healthy" studies to use as marketing. See Popeye produced by the Spinach industry, or the "discovery" that wine is healthy...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:02:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good points. I can only repeat my closing plea.

"Please don't let my sloppy writing or inelegant arguments get in the way of you looking at this book."

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 04:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, In Wales - how's the juicer?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2008 at 09:23:09 PM EST
... "By virtue of involuntary simplicity, I already eat 60% less meat than is normal in my country/region."

People here in the US have long forgotten that "a chicken in every pot" meant at least a chicken suitable for stew, and once a week, not meat every day.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 07:03:45 AM EST
What is "involuntary simplicity"?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 07:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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