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Responding to the Global Food Crisis

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing snippets about the growing food crisis around the world.  In the last couple of days, articles have started to pop up a little more frequently about the rising cost of food throughout the world.  Britain has called the crisis a “silent tsunami” that is sweeping across the already impoverished places of the world.  An NPR report mentioned that many families in Egypt spend up to one third of their income to buy bread (one of the cheapest foods available – everything else is drastically more expensive than a simple loaf of bread). 

All over the world, this is an incredibly serious and deadly issue.  It’s estimated that more than 100 million more people (and these types of issues always seem to affect kids more than adults) will start to go hungry because they can’t afford to buy the food necessary to survive.  Meanwhile, we (in the West) continue to eat more than our share of the world’s food, largely because our meals are so meat heavy.  I  came across a blog that had a great post on these issues, and noted some statistics about how demanding on other food resources it is to produce meat .  While the post is somewhat dated, I thought these numbers were kind of mind blowing:

~it takes 10-22 pounds of grain and soybeans to produce 1 pound of edible animal flesh.
~it takes 5,000-7,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of edible animal flesh.
~Percentage of corn grown in the US eaten by livestock: 80
~Percentage of oats grown in the US eaten by livestock: 95
~Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
~Cattle produce just 100 pounds of flesh protein for every 1580 pounds of plant protein
~One acre of land can produce: 14,000 pounds of sweet corn
~One acre of land can produce: 28,800 pounds of navel oranges
~One acre of land can produce: 40,000 pounds of potatoes
~But one acre of land can only produce: 250 pounds of edible beef
~(one acre of soybeans produces 462,000grams of protein- one person’s protein requirement for over 23 years)

I’ve seen numbers like this before, and have made efforts to cut back my meat intake, but with the recent worsening of the crisis…with 100 million more people going hungry due to their inability to afford food…and with some fairly clear correlation (even if it is indirect) between how we eat here in American and how the rest of the world eats (or doesn’t eat), my conscience has gotten the best of me, and I decided that it might be time….to go vegetarian.

Krissy and I haven’t really eaten any meat at home in the last few weeks (other than 2 slices of turkey I had on a sandwich), so this doesn’t really feel like it’s all that radical.  But, we do have several meals that we love to make semi-regularly (once a month or so) that involve meat, so we’re going to look into substitutes for the meat, or just finding other meals that we like and mourning the old ones.  Another change will come when we eat out…salads and vegetarian platters will be the preferred choices instead of those delicious steak sandwiches or chicken wings.  I tend to get a craving for a burger about once a month, so I’m going to try some new recipes that might trick my body into thinking that it’s eating a burger (yes, I’m talking about the dreaded burger alternatives, like veggie burgers and bean burgers, although I do not think I will be trying the “magic veggie loaf” recipe I found online :)). 

I think the hardest thing for me will be what to do when we eat with other people.  We love eating with our friends, and realize that not everyone is so keen on cutting out the meat in their diet (and at this point, I don’t want to be “that guy” who is the vegetarian bullhorn evangelist).  So, talking it over with Krissy, we decided that we could make some exceptions for eating with other people and indulge in small portions of meat with other people, although if anyone asks what we like we’ll let them know that we have veggie-friendly preferences and eventually we’ll just stop hanging out with those disgusting people who eat meat (just kidding). 

Anyways, so that’s the plan and basic reasoning behind it.  I listed a few articles that talk some more about these issues.  Check some of them out, or just search for “food” on Google News.

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5 thoughts on “Responding to the Global Food Crisis

  1. Dave, I love this post. I went vegetarian over a year ago now for these very reasons you have stated above. I learned about the injustices that the 1st world can get tons of meat while the rest goes without enough grain. I learned about the environmental issues we cause from factory farms to produce cheap and abundant meet in the US. I learned about our skewed land use so we can have the luxury of meat. And I decided I wanted to opt out of this broken and unjust system.

    On the other hand, I didn’t want to make a big deal about being a vegetarian, so I decided to be a “hospitable” one. Meaning that when my grandma makes turkey for thanksgiving and wants to know what I think of it, I will join in and try some. Or when I am in a cross-cultural situation and I don’t want to appear to reject someone’s culture by eating a dish with meat, so I will give it a try. I don’t want to hurt anyone in my own choice to opt-out of the meat system.

    I also don’t hide the fact that I am a vegetarian to friends, and have ended up having great conversations with people about it. People get it and respect it, so I don’t hide it.

    I’m running into a new issue with considering living in an intentional community. They eat meals together 3 times a week, and I am so scared that they like cooking meat. I am all about being hospitable, but I will run into serious ethical issues being part of a heavily carnivorous Christian community. I’m hoping meat is a special or rare thing, and then I will be just fine. And if not, I may need to reconsider.

    Thanks for this post!

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  2. I’d been wondering about you two making “the switch”… You’ve been consuming lots of veggie-meals lately. 🙂

    We’ll have no problem doing the vegetarian-friendly meals with you two at our place – especially based on the new recipes you and Krissy have been trying out (mmm!). Just don’t judge us when we eat a meaty slab of protein when you’re not around! 🙂

    Like

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