Here we go again: conflict in the Middle East and the discussion incessant bitching about gas prices. I can hardly wait until the summer travel season. With a barrel of oil topping $100 for the first time since 2008 (my muscles start to twitch as I remember this era of my finance career), it’s a great time to talk about why our industrial meat system burns my bacon. I still wonder out loud why the average person hasn’t made the broad connection between meat consumption, the environment and the world’s resources.
Mark Bittman got it right three years ago in his New York Times article Rethinking the Meat Guzzler:
Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.
As 925 million people in the world suffer from malnutrition he points out the following:
…about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University.