Catchy, but another example of the usual scientific half-truths I expect from political journalism. To her credit, Freston includes a suitable array of verifiable facts and figures considering her audience, and includes links to many of her sources. Nevertheless, I noted the specific absence of her most important source, the recent UN report. Did anyone else observe that all her linked references connect to articles written by like-minded individuals and published on three vegetarian websites, rather than credible scientific literature? Cyclic logic, anyone? And let’s not forget about her concluding sponsorship for two of her sources, GoVeg and VegCooking. Assuming that this paper exemplifies scientific writing, would it really be appropriate for an author to include as a source a website who publishes her literature and sponsors her books?
To understand science writing and evaluate the value of a given paper scientifically, we must learn to question the motives and intentions of the author. Clearly, the author is not motivated towards eliminating global warming. Rather, she intents to further her own career with the world’s most acceptable terrorist organization, PETA. PETA owns and maintains all three of the referenced websites. By repeatedly referencing those three sites in a paper published on the Huffington Post, she has dramatically increased the Page Rank of those same sites. For those who do not understand page ranking, it is the method by which search engines direct users to certain websites. In general, the more often a website is linked to by another website, the higher it’s page rank, or importance and the earlier in the list the site will appear when searched for. I understand this because part of my job at Alaska Tent & Tarp is to manage the website, and a huge part of that responsibility is to increase the number of valuable links to our website from other sites, and to wade through the vast number of sites requesting link exchanges from our site.
To bring this back to the original argument, her sources are flawed. In truth, she is only actually including two sources, PETA and the UN report. She offers links to the PETA source, but not the UN report, even though her argument is plagiarized directly from the FAO Newsroom, a division of the UN. Moreover, her use of PETA as a source is suspect, since she is a well published author through PETA, and a vocal proponent of PETA, risking creation of a sort of cyclic logic. Her intention in writing is to further PETA by increasing search engine activity for their websites and by directly generating site traffic, thereby gaining new recruits and new donation sources for PETA. No science involved.
The truth is that the healthiest diet for people or the environment is one that includes moderation. I have a number of severe food allergies, and in my research I have discovered a few things. In many cases, food allergies are a natural mechanism our bodies use to prevent overconsumption of certain foods. It is an autoimmune response to specific proteins, and has been observed to activate as a result of continuous overconsumption of certain protein sources. Some individuals, myself included are more prone to food allergies, while others are never affected. As a result of regional trends in staple foods, regional trends can be seen in food allergy demographics. For example, in Asia, where rice is consumed as a major staple, allergies to rice are more common than in other areas. Likewise in the US, where wheat is consumed as a major staple, wheat allergies are more common, and as soy protein filler and other soy products has become more commonly used in the US, allergies to soy have correspondingly increased. At this time, no control experiment has been conducted to conclude if this is simply a result of increased awareness of certain allergies, or if this is truely a result of regional overconsumption. Food allergies are not always the result of overconsumption. Many people are allergic to foods they have never eaten before observing an allergic reaction, and some allergies have been known to trigger from other sources. For example, many infants are allergic to soy protein from the womb. As another example, I am allergic to fish, triggered not from overconsumption, but from a sting by a fish in my aquarium. The point is that our bodies are acting as a natural parable, telling us that extremism in any direction is unhealthy. Meat in moderation is healthy.
Filed under: Conservation, Fall 2009, Food, Reading Response, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »