Cyndi's Two Cents

Cattle and climate change


The “Reducetarian movement” is all buzzed up after President Obama spoke about agriculture and food production in Milan, Italy last week.  When asked why there isn’t a bigger focus on food production as a cause of climate change, Obama said, “We haven’t publicized the impact it has on greenhouse gas emissions. I think people naturally understand… air pollution, so they can make the connection between air pollution and greenhouse gasses. People aren’t as familiar with the impact of cows, of methane. Some of it is just lack of knowledge in the general public.”

The former leader of the free world said that he is not a vegetarian, but suggested “we” teach people, including him, to have a smaller steak.  He said “we” are going to have to find a way to start producing protein more efficiently.

Eager to promote its upcoming summit, the Reducetarian organization cabbaged on to comments made by the former president, alluding to them in an email sent to members of the media last week:

“In addition to the overconsumption of meat, dairy and eggs that is standard in American diets, as noted by President Obama at the Seeds & Chips conference on Tuesday in Milan, rising incomes and urbanization among the world’s less affluent populations are driving a global dietary transition in which traditional diets are becoming more meat heavy. These dietary trends, if unchecked, would be a major contributor to an estimated 80 percent increase in global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from food production and to global land clearing. Moreover, these dietary shifts will greatly increase the incidence rate of type II diabetes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancer. If we don’t reverse the meat-heavy trend of U.S. overconsumption and global transition diets, greenhouse gases and diet-related diseases will continue to skyrocket.”

The goal of the Reducetarian Summit is to unite prominent environmental, health and animal protection non-profit organizations with leading foodservice and food tech companies.  Stakeholders like The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Compass Group are concerned about the overconsumption of animal products “because of some aspect of its association with numerous health, environmental, animal and welfare impacts.”

And yet the Obama Presidential Center is being built in Illinois where billions of dollars are generated from corn, soybeans, livestock, dairy and poultry, wheat, and other crops.  Many of said crops become feed for livestock. Billions of dollars also come into the state from agribusiness, ag real estate and manufacturing.  Most of Illinois’ 2,640 food manufacturing companies are within miles of that South Side Chicago park where President Obama’s new center and campus is going up. Illinois ranks first in the nation with $180 billion in processed food sales.

I don’t think what you eat is any of my business.  As an adult human, you should be able to figure that out for yourself. Blaming methane from cattle for a changing climate in an effort to get people to reduce meat consumption is at the very least, a far-fetched notion with dubious research to back it up.

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