If you have followed this blog at all you know that we think there are ENOUGH OF US and that we are wrecking the planet. We are also wrecking ourselves. We gamble with human life when we reproduce, starting at nativity, or even before, all the way through our lifespans. So while the notorious 22-person Duggar family has kept pushing their luck until less-than-perfect progenies spring from the womb – along with the Santorums and the Palins – they pay little if any regard to their ecological impact.
But once a couple (or single woman) has decided to bring another gaping mouth to feed into the world, how will that yearning yap impact the world and itself? The answer isn’t great in general, but in the United States, the facts are downright terrifying. We wish
First Lady Michelle Obama lots of luck with her school lunch reform efforts. She’s up against Ronald McDonald and the ball-headed jokester with the pointy hat, among others.
With the world growing ever smaller thanks to globalization, our options for healthful, natural and ecologically low-impact foods are ever-expanding. If only such plentitude were to lead to wise consumption.
- “While increased choice is theoretically a good thing – giving people variety and the opportunity to choose diets that are healthy and have little ecological impact – dietary norms have been reshaped in an increasingly unhealthy and unsustainable manner. Easy access to high-fat, high-sugar foods combined with billions of dollars spent annually on marketing, have dramatically shifted what is considered a ‘normal’ diet – from the number of calories per meal to the amount of meat, sugar and refined flour consumed. All of these in turn have contributed to rising obesity levels and have significant ecological impacts,” say ecology scholars Albert Bates and Toby Hemenway, writing in Worldwatch Institute’s 2010 State of the World (W.W. Norton and Company).
In a thoroughly researched article, they include the following data:
Worldwide, 1.6 billion people are either overweight or obese;
Livestock raised to meet humanity’s growing demand for meat account for 18 percent of greenhouse gases:
In 2007, people ate 275 million tons of meat – about 92 pounds of meat per person;
In industrial countries, double that number to 185 pounds of meat annually (that’s one-half pound each day);
A study of several of the longest-lived people in the world found they ate 1,800 to 1,900 calories per day without eating processed foods (although we doubt they ate no breadstuff like bread, cereal, and other processed grains), while the average American eats – hold onto your hat – more than 3,800 calories daily.
So what’s the point? It’s that we Americans – bloated as we are on poultry, pork and pie, are not only eating unhealthfully, we are damning our planet to the repercussions of our animal-based regimen. By not eating a diet leaning toward grapes, granola and green beans, we Americans are leading the way for the rest of the world to follow us into a self-destructive predicament: fat, fetid and fouled-up. Our environmental problems, more and more, reflect our personal health.
As food writer Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, et al) puts it, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Good idea. And good luck with that as well. China is growing. India is growing. And the Philippines and African countries, and on and on it goes. Our diet is impacting them. American fast food is growing like a cancer.
What we should be doing is deciding that there are enough of us, that we need to reduce our own numbers and that we need to get healthier and show the world that there are native diets around this planet that – when combined with healthier lifestyles and improved healthcare – can make things better for ourselves and for our planet.
United States foreign policy should globalize Ms. Obama’s domestic nutrition goals and incorporate international family planning as well.