Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’
Industrial livestock production in Europe and the USA began when feed, energy and land were inexpensive, the ‘Meat Atlas’ has explained, which is published jointly by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth Europe.
Nowadays, feed, energy and land have all become scarce and costs have gone up. As a result, total meat production is growing less quickly than before. “The market is growing only for pigs and poultry. Both species utilise feed well and can be kept in a confined space. This means that they can be used to supply the insatiable demand for cheap meat,” the Meat Atlas has said.
By 2022, almost half the additional meat consumed will come from poultry. Beef production, on the other hand, is scarcely growing. The USA remains the world’s largest beef producer, but the meat industry describes the situation there as dramatic. For 2013, it expects a fall of 4-6 per cent compared to 2012 and predicts the decline to continue in 2014. In other traditional producing regions including Brazil, Canada and Europe, production is stagnating or falling.
“The star of the day is India, thanks to its buffalo meat production, which nearly doubled between 2010 and 2013. India is forcing its way onto the world market, where 25 percent of the beef is in fact now buffalo meat from the subcontinent,” said the Atlas (see this news report from 2013 June).
According to the US Department of Agriculture, India became the world’s biggest exporter of beef in 2012 – going ahead of Brazil. Buffaloes are considered inexpensive to keep by the USDA (what benchmark do they use for husbandry I wonder). Thus the USDA considers buffalo meat a dollar a kilo cheaper than beef from Western cattle. In addition, the Meat Atlas has reminded us, the Indian government has invested heavily in abattoirs. Moreover, faced with the high price of feed, Brazilian cattle-raisers are switching to growing soybeans which has presented an opportunity for Indian buffalo-meat exporters.
China and India differ markedly in their food consumption patterns. In India, a vegetarian lifestyle has deep cultural and social roots. In surveys cited by the Atlas, a quarter or more of all Indians say they are vegetarian. “But the number of meat-eaters is growing. Since the economic boom (my note: usual dreadful mis-labelling here; it is no ‘boom’ but a slow destruction) in the early 1990s, a broad middle class that aspires to a Western lifestyle has emerged (true enough). This includes eating meat which has become a status symbol among parts of the population. Nevertheless, meat consumption in India is still small – per person it is less than one-tenth of the amount consumed in China.”
The costs borne by the environment because of the world’s fondness for animal-origin protein are probably the biggest, but are still difficult to calculate despite some 30 years of following advances in environmental economics. This helps us estimate some damage to nature in monetary terms. It covers the costs of factory farming that do not appear on industry balance sheets, such as money saved by keeping the animals in appalling conditions. The burden upon nature also grows by over-fertilisation caused by spreading manure and slurry on the land and applying fertilisers to grow fodder maize and other crops.
This is a superlative gallery of street food from around the world. Terrific pictures, great atmosphere, you can almost smell the fried, baked and spiced goodies. A must-see gallery provided by Foreign Policy magazine.
In ‘How Food Explains the World’ the main article to which the delightful Street Eats is attached, we’re informed about China’s strategic pork reserve and a future where insects are the new white meat.
Kimchi: When kimchi prices began soaring in late 2010
because of poor weather conditions and a bad cabbage harvest, Koreans predictably freaked out. As prices increased nearly fourfold – it normally costs $4 to $5 for a meal – consumers began referring to the dish as geum-chi, the Korean word for gold, and demanded the government take action.
Pundits lambasted President Lee Myung-bak for suggesting that Koreans try eating cheaper North American cabbage. To head off potential unrest – or even a kimchi revolution – the Seoul city government began a kimchi bailout program, assuming 30 percent of the cost of an emergency supply of cabbage it purchased from rural farmers.
The national government also grudgingly reduced tariffs on imported Chinese cabbage, betting, successfully, that more cabbage would bring prices back down. Fear of Chinese dominance over their national food supply, it turned out, didn’t trump Koreans’ love of spicy vegetables.
Insects: Many environmentalists advocate vegetarianism – or at least eating less meat – as a solution. But the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is asking consumers to consider another option: eating insects. An insect-based diet could provide just as much protein as meat (plus key vitamins and minerals) with far fewer emissions, the FAO says.
Breeding insects such as locusts, crickets, and mealworms emits one-tenth the amount of methane that raising livestock does, scientists say. The idea isn’t as far-out as one might think. More than 1,000 insects are already known to be eaten in about 80 percent of the world’s countries, though the idea remains a source of revulsion in the Western world.
The FAO is putting its money where its mouth is, investing in insect-farming projects in Laos, where locusts and crickets are already popular delicacies. A world conference on insect eating is planned for 2013.