Posts Tagged Food justice

USDA Suggests Its Employees Enjoy Meatless Monday – Republicans Go Apeshit

My headline says it all.

The USDA sent out an internal newsletter suggesting employees go vegetarian on Mondays as part of the Monday Campaign.  A group of Republicans congress critters went apeshit about the suggestion, claiming it was anti-agriculture.  And the USDA promptly folded.

Michael Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health responded with an intelligent letter that pointed out that meatless Monday is in keeping with the USDA guidelines of good health, that the environmental impact of eating meat is huge and that there is more to agriculture than meat production.

Here’s what the USDA newsletter said:

“How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.”

Being vegetarian or vegan isn’t for everyone.  But simply reducing the amount of meat you eat can have positive impact on your health.  How a group of individual as puerile as Republicans have ever managed to get elected astonishes me:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, for one, had this to say: “I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation [about] a meatless Monday,”

What a colossal jackass.

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Things to Think About: Food Justice

For reasons I’ll explain at another time, I’ve spent the last few weeks alternating between a vegetarian (melted cheese is tempting – evil and possibly addictive) and a vegan diet.  There have been some almost immediate benefits, not the least of which is that I feel better and I’m saving money at the grocery store.  In making this change, I’ve noticed how easy this kind of change is – if you have the resources.  It’s not just an awareness issue.  It’s an economic and environmental justice issue.

What we choose to eat and where we purchase what we eat is a justice issue.  Things like cost, access and quality are connected to economic justice. 

Cost is more complex than what you see on the price tag. Buying in bulk, which is often cheaper per unit, is ultimately unaffordable for many low income households. 

Access is equally complex.  If you use public transportation, its more difficult to transport large quantities and you often limited by schedules in terms of where and when you can shop.

Quality is often a function of both cost and access.  If I have access to high quality food but can’t afford it or can’t transport and store it, I might as well not have access.  If I don’t have access, cost doesn’t matter.  If it’s free but I can’t get it, it might as well be a million dollars. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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