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Posts Tagged ‘milk’

Cowspiracy

Posted by tinako on August 19, 2014

20140417173626-cowspiracy_posterThe movie Cowspiracy has come out.  I was so excited to learn that someone was finally asking these questions – why aren’t environmental organizations talking about livestock’s impact on the environment?  It’s such a glaring omission.  I supported the filmmakers on Indiegogo, so I received my promised DVD a few days ago.  You can look up local screenings at their web site.

The film is very well done, and I think it could have a big impact if it is put before local environmental leaders.  Two local vegan/AR organizations I’m in are going to co-host a showing.  Don’t miss it, and be sure to recommend it to your “environmentalist meat-eater” friends.

Posted in Environment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surprising Speaker

Posted by tinako on July 8, 2014

The audience’s reaction is what’s interesting to me in this video about food marketing.

I’ve never seen anything like this and really wasn’t expecting her closing.  Sometimes I think surprise is the only way to get through.

Posted in Animals, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Leafletting

Posted by tinako on June 23, 2014

I went out leafletting today.  In case you don’t know, to leaflet you get hold of some educational handouts and then find a place to hand them out to people.  I table a lot (which is setting up a table of materials at an event and letting people come to you) but I’m new to leafletting.

compassionate_choices_leafletIn my case, I’m doing this because a book I read, Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich’s Animal Activist’s Handbook, suggested leafletting about farm animal suffering as one of the more effective ways to reduce suffering in the world.  They’re associated with Vegan Outreach, so I chose one of the leaflets VO offers (“Compassionate Choices,” the one with the more pleasant cover).

When I table, I am usually tabling for the health or environmental reasons to eat less meat.  This is because most mainstream venues such as towns and colleges won’t invite someone to discuss slaughter or animal cruelty.  But I feel as though I would like to offer this information to people.  I am so grateful for the person who handed me a Farm Sanctuary brochure about veal 26 years ago – thank you, wherever you are.  I am glad to know the truth.  So I hit the street.

I was going to leaflet at Rochester’s International Jazz Festival, and grabbed a pack of 50 brochures and hopped on my bike to go to an afternoon venue, but I was late and everyone was already inside.  Undaunted, and determined not to go home with the brochures, I looked around and saw a lot of people on Main Street, about a block away.  So I rode up there and parked.  It was noontime on a lovely day in the business district right where all the bus lines meet, and walking along I was able to hand out all 50 brochures in 36 minutes within four blocks.

More than half the people accepted them (though I didn’t ask every person).  Some people were really happy, pleasantly surprised, a few wanted to talk, one informed me she didn’t need it since she wasn’t cruel to animals, one took a flyer and then offered to sell me some drugs, a few were mentally ill, but no one was mean.  A lovely man who seemed homeless was so grateful to get one.  I wish now I’d sat down and talked with him.

Posted in Animals, AR, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Say No to Animal Gifting Hunger Organizations

Posted by tinako on March 13, 2014

I have no problem recounting statistics about the environmental problems caused by livestock here in the U.S., and taking into consideration that Americans can choose to eat a healthy diet containing no animal products.  But when it comes to countries where marginal farmland and subsistence farming may make the issues more complex, I stayed out of it.

This article, “10 Reasons to Say No to Animal Gifting Hunger Organizations,” dives right in.  Have you been told their land will support nothing but grazing animals?  Have you been offered the image of cows and goats wandering around the homestead eating plants that were of no use anyway, producing free milk which is healthy and nutritious for starving people?  Find out.

Posted in Animals, Environment, Nutrition, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Artist’s Vegan Journey

Posted by tinako on July 23, 2013

Another blog, Honk if You’re Vegan, is running a series on my art.  This is part one: An Artist’s Vegan Journey, about how I became vegan.

Posted in Animals, Art, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dairy Dilemma

Posted by tinako on January 19, 2013

As part of a local environmental organization’s initiative to increase packaging recycling in school lunchrooms, I’ve been taking a turn going in to our school district primary school once a month and helping the kids recycle their lunch materials.  These are first and second graders, so they are sweet and fun but need a good deal of assistance.  In case you’re wondering about the details, there are about 200 kids eating at once, and every table gets a bin to toss their recyclables in, and in one cafeteria a student from that table brings their bin up to the sink and recycles everything with my help.  In the other cafeteria, I go and collect the bins after lunch and process them myself.  We recycle rinsed milk cartons, plastic cups and lids which fruits and veggies come in, plastic “silverware,” milk/juice boxes and pouches, water bottles, and chip bags.  Unfortunately they still use Styrofoam trays which we can’t recycle.  It is painful to watch the trash fill up with those, used for 15 minutes and lasting 400 years.  Of course it would be great if the district used reusable items, but they got rid of their dishwashing (and cooking) abilities when they shrank the kitchens to make room for more students 10-15 years ago or so.  So we are doing the best we can.  About half the kids bring their lunches and don’t generate much trash.

I didn’t anticipate when I signed up for this just how much milk I’d be handling.  Each needs to be opened up and given a quick rinse, but frequently the milk needs to be dumped first.  I pour a lot of milk down the drain in my two hours.  In addition to coming home smelling like it, it makes me very sad to think what the cow went through to provide what I’m dumping.  She desperately wanted to give it to her calf, who wanted desperately to have it, but the USDA school lunch program forces it on children who don’t need it, want it, or drink it.

Well, most drink some of it.  From memory, I estimate that about 40% of the kids get milk, 90% of the milk chosen is chocolate (even when the kids don’t open it), 30% of the cartons are completely consumed, another 40% are partly consumed, 25% opened but pretty full, and 5% are unopened.

This last time I went in, the leader told us we had the option of saving the unopened milks either for our families or the food pantry.  And so here is my dilemma.  Do I save milk, which I don’t think is particularly healthy, especially the 90% that is chocolate (22 grams of sugar, almost two tablespoons, in one cup of milk), to provide to hungry families, or open this junk the cows suffered for and pour it down the drain?  Is this sugar-milk less wasted if it is processed through a human gut than directly down the drain?  Am I a vegan promoting milk by providing it to the poor?  Is it arrogant of me to presume to choose for them, or is it caring to not dump USDA surplus sugar-milk on them?  What if it was candy instead?  Is it my right as a volunteer to decide according to my own deepest value, compassion?  If I don’t pass on this milk, will someone purchase or donate replacement milk, at the cost of further animal suffering, or will an alternative be more or less healthy, compassionate, and wasteful to the environment?

Having to make a quick decision, I thought that if I was this conflicted, either choice was probably acceptable – the choices that would best serve one and all had already been bypassed by others, and it was not my fault that I was not left with good options. I decided to collect the milk in my cooler and let people who visit the pantry decide.  I delivered about a gallon and a half.  I tried to remember the lesson of Torn and deliver it cheerfully.

What do you think I should do next month?

Footnote: Food Pantries Request Healthy Food Donations has milk in the yes column and sugary beverages in the no column.

 

Posted in Animals, AR, Buddhism, Schools, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

51%

Posted by tinako on February 28, 2011

Worldwatch Institute (Wikipedia entry) is claiming that the 18% greenhouse-gases-from-livestock figure that the U.N. came up with is too low, and the actual number should be 51%.

Last year the U.N. did urge people to move to veganism.

Posted in Environment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Why isn’t there a veggie cartel?

Posted by tinako on October 17, 2010

I am reading Marion Nestle’s Food Politics, and on p. 131 I have found the best explanation I’ve read so far of why meat, dairy, and eggs are promoted so much more than fruits and vegetables.  Those animal-based industries are rather homogenous.  I mean, how many different kinds of those products are there?  The dairy board is just milk  producers.  Then you have the beef board, which is all people with cows, a pork board, I guess a poultry board, and an egg board.  So just a few boards and all of them cover everyone making basically one product.

Compare this with a veggie board.  In her words, “fruit and vegetable growers view each other as competitors, a contest of peaches vs. apples or carrots vs. broccoli.  Although grain producers might be expected to join alliances to promote plant-based diets, they do not; most grain is fed to animals.”  So ironically, fruit and vegetable growers are politically weakened by the bounteous variety of the plant world.

In the next chapter she covers “check-offs,” where those boards lobby government to force producers to contribute to group generic advertising.  This is successful for promoting those homogenous products (think the Milk Moustache campaign, Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner, or Pork: The Other White Meat).  But plum growers, for instance, don’t want to contribute to a fruit promotion fund that they believe will mostly promote more popular fruits such as apples and bananas.  So they sued to be released from check-offs, nobody contributes much, and very little fruit and vegetable promotion happens.  More is spent to advertise Altoid Mints than fruits and vegetables combined.

Although she didn’t specifically make this connection, she does mention that while check-off money is not supposed to be used for lobbying but for “education” and “research,” the groups that do the two different functions are essentially or actually one organization.  It follows that if fruits and vegetable growers are not well-organized for check-off activities, they are also not well-organized for lobbying, which does seem to be the case.  And which explains a lot about the USDA.

Posted in Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Standard American Diet’s Effect on our Environment and our Health

Posted by tinako on July 20, 2010

Leo Horrigan

I read this accessible paper, “How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human
Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture
” (by Leo Horrigan, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker
Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore), which delivers a crushingly broad indictment of the effects of our industrial diet.

Robert S. Lawrence, M.D.

It concisely discusses the unsustainable and often irreversible effects on the environment of intensive use of water, energy, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, and genetic manipulations, and modern agriculture’s astonishing increases in topsoil loss, water pollution, animal waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.  The paper also makes the point very clearly that eating meat intensifies all these industrial uses and effects by its inefficiencies.  Ruining the environment doesn’t just mean messing up our nest, it also means messing up our food supply – if we don’t take care of the land and water, inevitably there will come a day when we can’t grow enough food – in the past farmers just moved on to new land, but what happens when even the marginal land is useless?

Then the paper moves on to the effect of all these chemicals and the foods themselves on our bodies.

They sum up:

These phenomena are due, in part, to production and processing methods that emphasize economic efficiency but do not give sufficient priority to public health or the environment.

Some things that surprised me:

The average U.S. farm uses 3 kcal of fossil energy in producing 1 kcal of food energy (in feedlot beef  production, this ratio is 35:1), and this does not include the energy used to process and transport the food.

Thirty-five calories of fossil fuel to make one calorie of food energy!

Barnard et al. estimated that meat consumption costs the United States roughly $30–60 billion a year in medical costs. The authors made this calculation (which they considered a conservative one) on the basis of the estimated contribution that eating meat makes to the diseases discussed above, plus other chronic diseases common in affluent countries and foodborne illnesses linked to meat consumption.

The United Nations has estimated that about 2 million poisonings and 10,000 deaths occur each year from pesticides.

One meta-analysis found that in nine comparison studies, vegans had an average cholesterol level of 158 mg/dL, vegetarians 182 mg/dL, and omnivores 193 mg/dL….  Whereas the average cholesterol level among heart attack victims is 244 mg/dL of blood serum, heart attack risk falls to virtually zero when the cholesterol level is less than 150 mg/dL.

The authors make the point that unsustainable farming is nothing new – many civilizations have collapsed because of their farming methods.  Sustainable methods will consider long-term effects on topsoil, biodiversity, and rural communities, instead of just short-term profit.  Sustainable agriculture will change from place to place and over time.  Sustainable methods might include crop rotation and soil conservation, among others.

So why don’t we do this?  Because farm input required by modern agriculture methods (think fertilizer, pesticides, and the kind of seeds farmers can’t save and replant)  is a huge, powerful business that influences government subsidization of large-scale unsustainable farming.

One thing that would help, they say, is to convince farmers that sustainable farming can be just as profitable, and they give a large-scale example in Gallo Wine.  Urban agriculture is good, and this is about the fourth paper I’ve read that says that farm markets and CSAs are a really important way consumers can make an impact.

They conclude:

Coupled with energy- and resource intensive food production methods, rising population and rising per capita consumption are bringing us closer to the limits of the planet’s ability to produce food and fiber for everyone.

These problems are complex and have no single solution, which leaves many people feeling powerless to affect them.  One personal act that can have a profound impact on these issues is reducing meat consumption.

The Center’s book “Putting Meat on the Table” is available for free download.  Lawrence and Walker offered a course, “Food Production, Public Health, and the Environment” through John’s Hopkins which sounds similar to the Yale course I’m auditing (and from the same semester).  Although JH’s course is less user-friendly (you have to synchronize MP3 audio lectures with PDF slides), it does have a list links of readings which seemed different than those required by Yale.

Posted in Disease, Environment, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bearing Witness

Posted by tinako on June 8, 2010

Pancho and Filipe, two sweet calves rescued by Farm Sanctuary in March.

Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s National Director, writes about how they know that the Conklin Farm abuse is not isolated – because most of the animals they rescue come in terrified of people.

Bearing Witness to Conklin Farm Abuse

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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