08 June 2008

Chicken, the Other Green Meat

As human-induced global warming gains more sway on the moral conscience of consumers, you might expect vested interests to come up with sales pitches promising to stretch our greenbacks to their green limit. The "buy local" fad is just one of the "solutions" that help us feel like we are doing our part. Sure it is a little more expensive, but think about the external effects on the planet of the CO2 emissions from shipping strawberries from China -- the other side of the world!

The fact that buying local also supports local agriculture industry also soothes our irrational tribal-biased aversion to foreign competition, perhaps bruised by a recent Hi-Def TV purchase, only serves to raise the issue to the media forefront.

However, by its nature, not its distance to market, is the carbon footprint of food made. According to a recent study,

"A relatively small dietary shift can accomplish about the same greenhouse gas reduction as eating locally, Weber adds. Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week reduces emissions equal to 760 miles per year of driving. And switching to vegetables one day per week cuts the equivalent of driving 1160 miles per year."

But red meat tastes so good! Of course, that is why we can expect green house gas emissions to continue to rise. As China grows richer, their demand for delicious red meat can be expected to rise (Indians, who are also getting richer, generally don't eat beef, though I'm not sure about other red meats).

Thanks to MR and Ezra Klein for the pointer.

No comments: