Let me start off this post with some facts about certain foods that were given in class.
Meat is a major food group with about 258 million tonnes consumed globally which averages to about 40kg/person and is currently a record high. Some major staples are pork (China), poultry, chicken, beef, mutton and goat. In U.S. poultry makes up about 32kg, beef roughly 29kg and pork 21kg adding up to a total of 82kg per person.
Now what is the input of meat? What goes into it? Well there is about 11-17 calories of feed / calorie beef, pork, poultry. Roughly 80% soy bean use for livestock so you have some of those in there and Up to 25,000L water / 8oz beef. Why such bizarre ingredients and ratios? You have to feed the animal your going to eat you know. Microbial are a major part of the diet of cattle (U.S. not Canada) up to 70% of all antimicrobial in U.S. are used on cows, pigs and chicken. One interesting tidbit of info is 1 calorie beef takes 33% more fossil fuel energy to produce than 1 calorie potatoes.
We saw a video at the end of class titled "The Meatrix" Yes, it was corny, but a nice breather from the serious and apocalyptic tone most videos involving major issues have. http://www.themeatrix.com/ click on the link to find out more.
Now what are some outputs associated with meat production?
Manure, obvious and can pollute surface and groundwater along with being a source of methane (16% of world production). Disease. Examples include saturated fats, cholesterol, pathogens (E.coli, Salmonella), Mad-cow (CJD). People who live near hog plants complain about the smell and this alone is a major issue in meat production.
One idea put before the class was the Ethical Gourmet. The idea behind it is to lessen the emphasis on meat as a main course among other ideals for being a better consumer (literally and purchase wise) listed below:
- Meat as a side dish
- Local over imported organic
- Organic over conventional
- Responsible GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) development
- Ethical fish (Blue Ocean Institute)
- Tap water
- Moral menu restaurants
- Socially responsible purchasing / investing
- Vote / lobby
- Cook wholesome foods at home more often
The class also had an intro lecture of hog production in Manitoba. We learned about the Clean Envrionment Comission and some of its goals suchthe research into and methods of handling liquid wastefrom livestock including higher dikes around manure storage facilities as well as requiring all new and expanding hog operation to file manure management plans and provide the livestock producers with financial assistance or incentives to assist them in coming into compliance with the LMMMR.
The Manitoba Food Charter was covered also. Their vision is A just sustainable food system in Manitoba is rooted in healthy communities, where no one is hungry and everyone has access to nutritious food.
A just sustainable food system in Manitoba means:
- Farmers, fishers, processors, distributors etc use ecologically sustainable practices
- Respect traditional hunting gathering, trapping etc of First Nations Peoples.
Essentially the main idea behind this class was to enlighten us (students) to the fact that our food (in this case meat) has a dark side to it and isn't produced on a scenic looking family farm. A lot happens to hogs, chickens and cattle that is unethical and profit oriented.