Watching What We Eat - Lake Stevens School District
Watching What We Eat Brian Halweil and Danielle Nierenberg State of the World 2004 Watching What We Eat Overview: 1. A Revolution in Every Bite 2. From Farm to Factory and Back 3. Food Without Pollution 4. Eat Here 5. The Rise of Food Democracy 6. Policy Priorities
Watching What We Eat The rise in international food trade and the proliferation of heavily processed and packaged foods has distanced most people from what they eat, both geographically and psychologically Watching What We Eat Artificially low prices for food do not reflect true costs
Ex.: - Farmers often unable to make a decent living - Need to clean up environmental problems caused by destructive forms of agriculture Watching What We Eat Many people in wealthier nations are not aware of how food items reach their tables
For example... Fishing Trawlers - Industrial fleets have fished out 90% of all large ocean predators in just the past 50 years - Many species in sharp decline Luxury Foods - From pt-de-foie-gras to shark fin soup to caviar, many luxury foods are produced under brutal and ecologically disastrous conditions A Revolution in Every Bite
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned and involved - Making a political statement with their food choices - Refusing to support destructive forms of agriculture Growing demand for fair foods Ex.: - certified organic fruits and vegetables
pasture-raised beef sustainably caught fish bird-friendly coffee and cocoa A Revolution in Every Bite 25% of planets surface devoted to food production (more than the worlds forested area) Impossible to separate agricultural practices from the health of rivers, wetlands, forests, and the living environment Our food choices rival transportation as the human activity with the greatest impact on the
environment A Revolution in Every Bite Most profound changes eaters can make: 1) re-evaluating their consumption of meat 2) selecting food produced without agrichemicals 3) buying locally grown food A Growing Appetite for Meat Global meat production has increased more than fivefold since 1950 World Meat Production, 1950-2002
1970 1980 Year 1990 2000 A Growing Appetite for Meat If the trend continues Projected Meat Consumption in 2020 100 22
0 80 Pound 60 per person 40 per year equivalent to: 100 1 pig
20 0 1 side of beef 1 Developing countries Source: Delgado et al., 1998 2 Industrial countries
50 chickens From Farm to Factory and Back Industrialized animal production is the most ecologically destructive sector of global farming Inputs to Industrial Meat Feed - 1 calorie of beef, pork, or poultry needs 11-17 calories of feed
- 95% of soybean harvest eaten by animals, not people - Feed containing meat and bone meal can cause mad cow disease Water - Producing 8 ounces of beef requires over 6000 gallons of water Inputs to Industrial Meat Additives - Cows, pigs, and chickens get 70% of all antimicrobial drugs in the US
Fossil Fuels - 1 calorie of beef takes 33% more fossil fuel energy to produce than a calorie of energy from potatoes would Outputs of Industrial Meat Manure - Manure from intensive pig operations stored in lagoons can leak into groundwater or pollute nearby surface water Methane
- Belching, flatulent livestock emit 16% of the worlds annual production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas Outputs of Industrial Meat Disease - Eating animal products high in saturated fat and cholesterol is linked to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses - Factory farm conditions can spread E. coli, Salmoella, and other foodborne pathogens - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the
human variant of mad cow disease, has killed at least 100 people - Outbreaks of avian flu in densely populated chicken farms can spread to humans From Farm to Factory and Back Growing movement of farmers who choose to raise their animals outside Increasing consumer demand for pasture-fed or free-range meat
From Farm to Factory and Back Advantages of raising animals outside: Nutritionists say that grass-fed meat is healthier (no antibiotics, no hormones, higher in Omega 3 fatty acids that lower cholesterol, etc.) Animals raised on pasture require little, if any, grain, resulting in less pressure on farmland to raise monocultures of corn and soybeans to feed livestock Farmers enjoy lower costs: no antibiotics, no growth promotants, no pricey feed, no huge sheds to maintain
Problems with ChemicalIntensive Agriculture Fertilizers and pesticides pollute surrounding environment reducing biodiversity contaminating groundwater and water supplies drinking Health risks associated with exposure to pesticides that are known or suspected carcinogens Vicious cycle: pests develop resistance to pesticides, requiring heavier doses and more potent chemicals
Organic Farms Yield More Than Just Crops Plants - 5 times as many wild plants, and many more species Birds - 2 times as many birds Soil Life - 2 to 5 times as many arthropods (including butterflies and spiders) and soil life, like earthworms
Food Without Pollution Other benefits of organic farming: No cost to public for removing chemical fertilizers and pesticides from drinking water supplies Emphasis on cover crops, compost, and manure increases organic matter in soils, reduces erosion, and increases productivity Organic produce is more nutritious, containing higher concentrations of antioxidants and other healthpromoting compounds Food Without Pollution Growing demand for organic foods
Global Sales of Organic Foods, circa 2002 United States ($11 bill.) Total = $23 billion Canada ($850 mill.) Japan ($350 mill.) Rest of world ($825 mill.) Germany ($2.8 bill.) United Kingdom ($1.6 bill.) Italy ($1.2 bill.) France ($1.2 bill.) Other Europe ($3.2 bill.)
Source: IFOAM Eat Here Today, the average food item in the U.S. travels 1,5003,000 miles (25% farther than in 1980) However, eating local foods - preserves regional cuisines - keeps money within the community - saves energy (less hauling, packaging, processing, and brokering required) - reduces greenhouse gas emissions (less transport)
Eat Here A meal made from imported vs local ingredients in Britain generates 650 times more transport-related carbon emissions Strawberries 8,772 km CALIFORNIA All these food items can be grown in a British climate Potatoes 2,447 km Broccoli 8,780 km GUATEMALA
Blueberries 18,835 km NEW ZEALAND All British 48 km ITALY Green beans 9,532 km THAILAND Beef joint
21,462 km Carrots 9,620 km AUSTRALIA SOUTH AFRICA Source: Jones Eat Here Local foods are fresher, healthier, and less expensive Food Democracy
More farmers, consumers, chefs, and food businesses are resisting the temptation to eat blindly, and are instead eating deliberately They are part of a growing movement to reestablish our lost connection to food and the people who produce it Consumers seeking better choices are the force behind change food driving Policy Priorities Government Action
Shift the more than $300 billion spent on agricultural subsidies each year into support for ecological farming Consider taxing pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, factory farms, and other polluting inputs or farming practices Policy Priorities Government Action Work with farming organizations to increase the share of their land under organic production to 10% over the next 10 years by: improving organic certification programs boosting organic know-how at agricultural
universities, research centers, and extension agencies providing subsidies or tax credits to farmers in the first few years of conversion Policy Priorities Government Action Reform international trade agreements to eliminate export subsidies, food dumping, and other unfair trade practices that restrict the ability of nations to protect and build domestic farm economies From the national to the local level, use food procurement for schools, hospitals,
government offices, etc. to support ecologically raised crops from local farmers What Can You Do to Make a Difference? About the Authors Brian Halweil is a Senior Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute Danielle Nierenberg is a Research Associate at the Institute More information on
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