Blog Action Day 2008

Here’s my contribution for Blog Action Day 2008:

Author of the bestselling Diet for a New America, John Robbins writes: “The existence of so much hunger in the world is a reality we cannot deny. It is a reality that challenges us deeply: it asks us to become more fully human.” Robbins argues that the world hunger problem is not only the responsibility of the United Nations, but of every human being on the planet. “When we remember those who are without food,something is awakened within us. Our own deeper hungers come to surface – our hungers to live fully, to bring our lives into alignment with our compassion, to make our lives expressions of our spirits.”

(Grain image by ** Maurice **)

(Bread image by adactio)

Compare these figures:

Number of people whose food energy needs can be met by the food produced on 2.5 acres of land:
If the land is producing cabbage
If the land is producing potatoes
If the land is producing rice
If the land is producing corn
If the land is producing wheat
If the land is producing chicken
If the land is producing milk
If the land is producing eggs
If the land is producing beef
23 people
22 people
19 people
17 people
15 people
2 people
2 people
1 person
1 person

And then there is the amount of water used:

Water Required to produce one pound of California foods
(according to Soil and Water Specialists, University of California Agricultural Extension, working with livestock farm advisors)
1 pound of lettuce
1 pound of tomatoes
1 pound of potatoes
1 pound of wheat
1 pound of carrots
1 pound of apples
1 pound of chicken
1 pound of pork
1 pound of beef
23 gallons
23 gallons
24 gallons
25 gallons
33 gallons
49 gallons
815 gallons
1,630 gallons
5,214 gallons

Newsweek once put it another way: “the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.

(Information Source: Food Revolution by John Robbins)

More facts:

“There are currently 1.28 billion cattle populating the earth. They take up nearly 24 percent of the land mass of the planet and consume enough grain to feed hundreds of millions of people.”

Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef.

Jeremy Rifkin’s book is crucial reading for anyone who wants to make a difference to world poverty, hunger, health  environmental related issues:

It depicts a world in which the poorer peoples of the planet have been starved to support the beef addiction of a handful of wealthy nations. In Europe, the United States, and Japan, this addiction has resulted in millions of deaths from heart attack, cancer, and diabetes-the diseases of affluence. The book also describes the grim ecological effects of the cattle culture: rain forests burned, fertile plains turned into desert, and climate threatened by global warming.

Unfortunately 75% of the grain sent to third world countries goes towards livestock production, which ends up in the US and Western Europe (the US is the world’s leading importer of beef and fish).  Therefore, the cycle of poverty that perpetuates, is brought about by unnecessarily high levels of animal farming.

To alleviate poverty: reduce your meat consumption. If people demanded less, less cows would be bred to meet the demand. If the crops produced to feed livestock were fed to people instead, we would end world hunger.

Seems simple doesn’t it?

Now, here’s a game to play: 3rd World Farmer by RPG Games. This  game puts you in the shoes of a family of farmers in one of the poorest areas of the world and lets you make the important decisions that will determine if your family will prosper, or starve.

Will you plant corn this year, or peanuts? Will you invest your few dollars in a new tractor, or pay off a local representative? Can you afford to send your children to school, or give them medicine? 3rd World Farmer lets you make the hard decisions!

References:

Robbins, J, 1998, Diet for a New America

Rifkin, J, 1992, Beyond Beef

Cruelty Free Living

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