Sure, we all know about the value of eating the right balance of things, getting all your vitamins and minerals and all that. It’s also important to exercise, as I’m sure we all know.
What you might be wondering is why we (meaning our local Lapchynski family) strive so hard to eat local, organic and vegan. Well, there are certainly ethical and health reasons behind them, but the main reason (at least for me) is for the environment at large. If you’re so inclined to believe that biodiversity and a healthy physical environment is not of value to ourselves and our children, realize then that I am also referring to the social environment. We could seriously reduce the effect of world hunger and the world energy crisis simply by making intelligent choices about what we eat.
The reasons for “sustainable” food are well-defended against the The Economist in a recent article in the Grist. Here we find that though organic yields are less than intensive agriculture, over the long term, they are actually better. We also find that given accessible avenues to local food, it does reduce the amount of energy wasted to get food. Here in Eugene, local food is everywhere and so this is pretty easy. You don’t have to live near the farmer’s market, although it’s certainly nice, too. So though these practices, which involve less technology compared to their alternatives, we could have more food using less energy in a way that is more accessible and approachable to the world at large.
As for the latter bit, Treehugger reviews a calculation of the carbon footprint of a hamburger. Basically, this is an estimation of how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels. Remember, hamburgers don’t grow on trees. There are fossil fuels used to ship cattle back and forth, to ship supplies (antibiotics, feed, etc.), to power the slaughter houses and supermarkets and fast food joints, etc. etc. etc. Even if they did grow on trees, fossil fuels would still be burnt in transport. This not only has an effect on the greenhouse effect, but it also indicates excessive energy use. Until we’re using sustainable sources of energy (and current solar technologies are not necessarily sustainable given how much energy it takes to produce the cells and given their efficiencies), we need to reduce, not increase how much energy we use. Though I don’t necessarily recommend fake meat as the most sustainable alternative (that would be organic veggies from your own garden), it’s certainly better given the amount of land, water, and energy wasted by animals raised for food. Didn’t we all learn in high school (or earlier) than on average, only 10% of the energy is passed on to the next link in the food chain? Isn’t it obvious then, that we can feed more people with a vegetable diet?
So there you go. You don’t have to be one of those left-wing weirdos (hey, I resemble that remark) to care about the world around you. This is not about saving the whales, or saving old growth forests, this is about saving human lives. Do you think it’s really that hard to have to look for something good to eat in a world full of animal-by-product-filled, pesticide-ridden, cloned and genetically altered food? Not really when you consider what’s at steak. Stake, I mean.