What’s wrong with what we eat

My friend Matt sent me a link to this remarkable talk at the TED conference by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, called “What’s wrong with what we eat.”

… for some reason WordPress won’t embed the video, and I can’t seem to get a printscreen to jpg to work, either. But that’s grist for another post.

Putting Red Meat out to Pasture

Even though I did a sustainability tip about this about a year ago, I’d forgotten what a big deal this was.

At the time I pointed out all these unsavory beef byproducts:
– A recent UN report concluded that livestock generate more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation
– US livestock consume 70 percent of America’s grain production
– Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface
– 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon are now used for grazing.

If 1,000 people ate one less meal with beef a week, it would save over 70,000 pounds of grain, 70,000 pounds of topsoil and 40 million gallons of water per year.


  • Livestock a major threat to environment,” Food and Agriculture of the United Nations
  • newdream.org
  • Not long ago, the LA Times ran an op-ed piece that made the case even more fully:

    “A report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization identified livestock as one of the two or three top contributors to the world’s most serious environmental problems, including water pollution and species loss.”

    “All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. — more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet.”

    “A University of Chicago study examined the average American diet and found that all the various energy inputs and livestock emissions involved in its production pump an extra 1.5 tons of CO2 into the air over the course of a year, which would be avoided by a vegetarian diet. Thus, the researchers found, cutting out meat would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trading in a gas guzzler for a hybrid car.

    Pass the tofu, eh?