A warm welcome for Old Man Winter
It’s beginning to look a lot like winter, and all I have to say is “it’s about time!”
I know everyone wants mild winters — no one likes to shovel, it’s tougher to travel, blah, blah, blah. Mild winters are for Vancouver, you know, the home of the 2010 Olympics. I was wondering if anyone finds it ironic that, due to climate change, there is not enough snow for some of the outdoor Olympic events, so they are actually trucking in snow?
I guess the irony of the fact that transportation is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions is lost in the glare of the global spotlight that the Olympics generate.
I thought that transportation was actually the single highest producer of GHGs but it is not. Did you know that the production of meat can claim that title? According to a 2006 report ( ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/ A0701E/A0701E00.pdf) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, titled Livestock's Long Shadow, livestock production causes more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation.
So if we want to cut down GHGs, we need to eat less meat. The main problem is that we are using precious resources to grow grain to feed cows, instead of people. But there is even more than that of concern, as cows are actually a quadruple threat. First, we utilize land, seed and water to fatten them up. Second, they emit methane, ammonia and other polluting gases. Third, livestock are a major source of deforestation worldwide. Fourthly, waste from feedlots contaminate streams and create deadzones, further depleting resources.
We don’t have to stop eating meat altogether — even Al Gore admits to eating a steak once in awhile. But being aware of the consequences of the choices we make is important. One way to reduce meat consumption is to have a few days a week which are designated, by you, as meat free. It will soon become a routine and most likely you won’t even miss it from your diet.
Speaking of choices, I asked a local vegetarian expert once about helping me understand labels on food. Nutritional values are not my strong suit. He said if it had a label, it wasn’t really food — instead it was processed food and I should not be eating that stuff. Well, I guess he was right but that certainly limits the section of the grocery store that you would shop in, right? It would be good however, if food came with its carbon footprint attached in a label — we could then choose foods more wisely for our own health and the health of the earth.
In addition to the carbon footprint of what we eat, every item should come marked with a water footprint. Did you know it takes 140 litres of water to make one cup of coffee? Or that it takes 16,000 litres of water to make one pound of beef.
People don’t want to think about these facts but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. It is grappling with the way we produce food and the way we manage our diet which will be the focus of scientists and doctors for years to come. Perhaps we should change the old slogan of “ food for thought” to “thought for food.”
Lets’ think about that next time we are in the grocery store, or better yet, the farmers’ market.