Vegetarian is the new Prius
Kathy Freston’s article, Vegetarian is the new Prius, is aimed at health conscious adults that are interested in being green or reducing their impact on the Earth. The article highlights the fact that while some measures are being taken to become greener in the form of updated homes or environmentally friendly cars, one of the largest green problems lies within society as a whole, not as individuals. Freston examines the growing demand for poultry and beef products in our nation and what that demand is doing to our environment.
The fact is that being green isn’t just about driving the right car or putting in better windows, there’s much more to it. One third of the greenhouse gases produced are methane and nitrous oxide since the industrial revolution. A large part of these contributions come from agricultural farming of animals and their digestive track. 37% of our methane and 65% of our nitrous oxide comes from these agricultural farming processes.
The article is effective in the sense of raising general awareness about the subject. While many people look to cars and factories as the largest offenders in producing greenhouse gases many tend to forget about farming. To ask or require people to switch to a vegetarian diet in an effort to reduce the total output of greenhouse gases is ridiculous. Luckily this article isn’t asking that, it’s merely bringing light to a cloudy subject.
If current meat consumption rates grow as they have been, the U.S. will be writing a check that our environment can’t cash. Americans as a whole already have a problem with overconsumption; they need to begin to address their actual consumption needs as well as their health. By switching half of their diet to a purely vegetarian diet, America as a whole could cut our agricultural demands for meat in half.
There are no counter arguments addressed in the text, but there are a few popular counterarguments. The first counterargument that many people throw into the ring is that it is not natural for humans to exist on a purely vegetarian diet. This in itself is true, however due to the increases in technology, humans can now survive without meat with the use of supplements and vitamins. Certain things such as iron and creatine are normally extracted by the human body from red meat, but with a simple supplement these could be replenished in our diet.
I would research the actual level at which greenhouse gases are being produced and which percentage of that comes from agricultural farming. It would be important to break this down in an effort to define exactly where these gases are coming from before placing blame or coming up with a resolution. It is apparent that our farming processes are causing a significant level of damage to our environment, but the industry as a whole needs to be examined, not just the section producing chicken and beef.
Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food
In Brian Walsh’s article, Getting Real about the High Price of Cheap Food, he trains his argument toward adults with a moderate to high level of intelligence. To understand the meaning of the high price of cheap food one must understand what the real costs are to our nation and Walsh does a fine job of explaining them. The people in Walsh’s target audience are likely health conscious and environmentally responsible.
The point of Walsh’s article is that while we are able to produce unlimited supplies of food for our nation at low prices we are doing so in horrible, dangerous ways. The methods currently being used to produce pork and chicken as highlighted in the article focus on densely packing large numbers of animals into spaces so small they can’t move. By putting so many animals together in such tight spaces it is impossible to clean the environment properly. This lack of cleanliness gives way to a nutrient rich environment where germs and bacteria grow and fester. As pointed out by Walsh in the article, companies are pumping the livestock with antibiotics in an effort to combat the disease rich environment and keep their product healthy. Where do all these antibiotics go when all is said and done?
Large in part most of these antibiotics are passed on to the consumer when we cook and eat these animals. These antibiotics end up in our bodies and begin to change our health without our recognition in the form of stealth substances. Antibiotics aren’t the only stealth substances that we are finding in our foods these days, many commercially grown animals are pumped full of hormones in an effort to reduce growth time and increase the size of the animals beyond their natural boundaries. These hormones get passed on to us as well when we consume these commercially grown animals.
The problems with the food itself is only half of the issue that Walsh brings to the table. The other issues that are addressed are the secondary results of producing such large numbers of animals on a commercial scale. Walsh examines the expansive cesspools of manure that stream from these factories and stretch alongside our neighbor hoods. These cesspools offer a scent unique to the interior of an old outhouse on a hot Tennessee summer day. The neighboring residents are bathed in this gut wrenching, putrid stench, all so that America can add bacon to their Double Quarter Pounder for only 49 cents. The waste by products of these farming operations are creeping into our ecosystem and disrupting everything in it’s way. If America’s addiction to low priced meat products isn’t dealt with, we could be looking at eating ourselves out of a home in the foreseeable future.
The article is effective because it reaches out to readers on an individual level. Many readers feel they are incapable of making changes that matter and believe that they need to join a large movement or organization in order to make a difference. This article highlights the possibility and level of impact that several people can have if each an every one of them changes their life slightly. These changes aren’t so large that people’s lives will be changed dramatically, in fact most people’s lives will become easier as they reduce the amount of meat they consume.
Walsh makes the implication in his article that if consumption rates continue to grow at their current levels we are going to eat ourselves out of a home. Walsh states that Americans, “face a future of eroded farm lands, hollowed-out countrysides, scarier germs and higher health costs”, and these are only the beginning. No one knows the full extent to which our country will suffer if we continue to consume at our current level. In order to save our planet and ourselves we need to take a look at farming sustainably.
There are no real counterarguments to the problems addressed in this article. The only real counterargument that can be presented is the value of low priced food for the citizens of this country. While it is important to provide affordable means by which people can survive there is a difference between eating for survival and eating for pleasure. A large part of our meat consumption comes from eating specific foods for pleasure, not out of a necessity to survive. In order to change the way in which we produce our foods, we need to change the way in which we create demand for our foods.
If I were to pursue this issue I would continue on to research the health benefits of several different diets and compare them to one another. I would begin by looking at diets that are high in poultry, beef and dairy products and compare them to diets with low levels of those items. By comparing caloric values and fat contents simple inferences could be made as to which was the healthier of the two. After identifying the healthier of the two I would research recipes that fit the parameters of the healthier diets and show my audience the potential that healthy eating can have.
Nothing Wasted, Everything Gained
The audience being targeted is an adult audiences that cares about renewable energy being developed on a new level. The target audience is conscious about the effects they have on the environment and want to find new ways in order to reduce the overall impact they have on the environment. This specific group isn’t necessarily specific in their demographic make up. This is a group consisting of college students, well educated middle class workers, affluent upper middle class individuals with the means to afford new technology and many more.
The main point of the article is that even in the most inhospitable environment humans can thrive in an environmentally friendly manner with the use of technology. These scientists took the idea that one day due to massive population expansion mankind is going to be forced to start settling down in previously uninhabitable areas. This group of scientists consisting largely of engineers and soil chemists took the idea that a community could be created with the use of the appropriate technology that had a zero emission impact on the environment. By creating Gaviotas and maintaining it, this group has shown the world that the future truly lies in technological advancements for a greener world.
The article is effective in educating the audience about the successes that have been made in creating zero environmental impact establishments in which people can settle down. The search for zero impact cities started when greenhouse gases were first identified as a potential source of our planet’s warming trend. Ever since scientists have been searching for ways in which to reduce the total output of greenhouse gases that humans are producing. Many scientists have focused on reducing the total output that vehicles have in regards to greenhouse gases, but the total output is much larger than vehicles alone.
Energy production contributes a large amount to the total production of greenhouse gases by the United States. In Gaviotas the energy is produced by wind generators and solar resources which eliminates any and all carbon production which contributes to the zero impact society that has been developed at Gaviotas. America needs to take a look at Gaviotas and use this establishment as an example of what society could achieve with the proper implementation of green technology. Alaska has traditionally been reliant upon fossil fuels as a means of supporting their energy needs, but green energy production is now being explored and developed as a sustainable means of energy production.
If more investment is directed toward green energy production and green technology we can develop a world that runs on zero emission energy. With a large percentage of the U.S.’ s pollution stemming from energy and product production a zero emission energy source could cut our level of pollution dramatically. While most businesses have been focusing on the bottom dollar, the environment has been taking a dramatic blow at the expense of progress. By turning our focus away from progress and putting more of our focus on becoming environmentally friendly we can extend the amount of time we have in this world.
Critics of green energy and green technology like to remind the public of the cost to implement them and focus on the economic unfeasibility that green technology has to the public. Green technology however can’t be looked at in the same light at traditional technology, they are two different subjects. When looking at green technology compared to traditional technology you have to look at secondary benefits. If an organization is looking to use alternative, “green” products in their production process they can’t simply look at prices across the board. Green products may offer secondary benefits that outweigh the price difference such as: extended returns on investment (renewable energy sources), reduced environmental impact (environmentally friendly compounds vs. toxic/ synthetic compounds), increased goodwill (public approval for reducing one’s environmental impact), and increased social/ethical responsibility.
If I were to pursue this issues I would research other organizations that had implemented these or similar technologies in an effort to make their community more sustainable. By looking at other communities in comparison to Gaviotas an individual can see what works and what doesn’t. In an interview with Paolo Lugari in the book, Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World, Lugari talks about Gaviota’s approach to solving technological problems and coming up with green solutions. Lugari says that the approach of Gaviotas is to incorporate everyone into the idea generating process instead of utilizing the traditional top-down approach that many communities have. By incorporating everyone a community can be sure to generate the best possible answer.
All the answers in this document were in response to the article, Nothing Wasted, Everything Gained, by Alan Weisman.
Web Site: Guerrilla Gardening
This website is devoted to people all over the world that are trying to make a small local difference for the environment. This website isn’t strictly for adults (some contributors guerrilla garden with their children), however most of the contributors are adults. The developers created an open source website that allows users from several different countries in several different continents to post and show off the difference that they are making. Most of the users on the website pick vacant lots or small run down abandoned flower beds in which to plant a couple different types of flowers or plants. While the overall impact on the environment is minimal, these people do make a difference on a local level.
The main focus of this website is to get people involved with contributing to their environment on a local level. Many people are constantly looking for ways in which they can contribute to the environment in a positive manner. The guerrilla gardening website gives people a cheap and affordable option in contributing to the environment. By turning abandoned flower beds and vacant lots into eye pleasing mini gardens or flower beds more people become interested in the environment and what these mini gardens represent. By raising awareness in the general public and showing what a difference a little elbow grease can do, many people become motivated to do something themselves.
This website fills a niche desired by everyday men and women that want to participate in something larger than themselves. These are people driven to make the world they live in a better place, one pedal at a time. The good aspects of this site are that it is easy to join and post on the forum and it’s easy to access. Some sites make joining a long process and posting on the site even harder. This deters users from accessing and utilizing the site. The negative aspects are that until this class I had never heard of it. To be truly effective and reach more people the site needs to do more advertising.
Video Response: King Corn
The video I reviewed was the film, King Corn, a film about the modern corn industry. In the movie two college graduates, Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis, go to Iowa to learn the process of growing, harvesting, selling and consuming corn. Their goal was to understand the entire process of corn production, all the way from seed to stalk and to do this they persuaded a farmer to help them. In the film the farmer allowed them to plant corn on a one acre parcel where they tended it until it was ready o be harvested. Once the corn was harvested they try to find the end-users of corn in America.
Ian and Curtis find that corn is being turned into all sorts of potentially dangerous products and substances for Americans. These products aren’t dangerous in a direct manner, but they are causing Americans all sorts of problems. Corn is being used by many manufacturers to sweeten food and drink such as candy and soda even though our country is facing an obesity epidemic. Corn is also being poured into feed troughs throughout America in an effort to drive down costs of meat production on several levels, all the way from pork, to beef, to chickens. By restricting these animals to a limited corn based diet we are taking them off of their natural diet and essentially creating all new types of animals. While this is a theory and hasn’t been proven it is a serious enough matter to be investigated.
What would happen to these corn supplies if a rouge epidemic wiped them out? Where would our food supplies be and what would be the effect on Americans and their diet? What if the government stopped subsidizing the production of corn? Where would that leave farmers and the corn supply of America? These are all important things to consider when looking at the production and use of corn in modern America. Balance is important whether it be in our diets or in our national economy.
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