Waste-free holiday

I hate to be so bahumbug about one of my and most people’s favorite holiday, but it’s a fact. Christmas is the most wasteful holiday.

According to recycleworks.org, from thanksgiving to new years’, our household waste increases by more than 25 percent. With everything from added food waste, to wrapping, packaging, it adds up to over 1 million tons a week going into a landfill.

Half the paper used in America is used to wrap products. And the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold in America (so this doesn’t include the cards not sold that are thrown away) could fill a football field for up to 10 stories.

If everyone reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, it would add up to enough to tie a bow around the planet. How’s that for a Christmas present to us and the Earth?

Food waste is also one of the biggest waste contributors. Food waste makes up to a quarter of the garbage thrown away during Thanksgiving and New Year’s. A household of four could save an average $100-$125 by reducing food waste.

The good news is that both of these problems have solutions.

To address our overconsumption of paper:

  1. Save wrapping paper this year to use for next year. It takes a bit of effort and patience from everyone involved because everyone has to wait while you carefully unwrap your presents.
  2. Use recycled paper products. Recycled cards, wrapping paper, bags, etc. And you could always send an e-card, instead of paper. If everyone sent one less card we could save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
  3. Use alternatives to the conventional wrapping paper. Newspapers, reusable bags (which is a gift in itself and it keeps on giving), use bags or used boxes, paper bags from the store, fabric, (fabric is harder to rip to shred, which makes it easier to reuse) jars or cans (mixes are adorable in jars), I will also tell you, unashamedly, that part of my parents gifts were wrapped in Pringle’s cans. Let your creativity run wild and feel no shame.
  4. Upcycle your paper. Most of these things are super easy. Gifts bags made from newspaper or wrapping paper, bows made from any kind of paper, paper confetti (we used brown packing paper and some used wrapping paper that wasn’t in such good shape and shredded with a paper shredder).
    Step 8

    Bows made from wrapping paper.

    Paper shred/confetti

    Packing confetti made from shipping paper and old wrapping paper

And for our waste of food? Mostly it has to do with planning ahead. Planning portion sizes, what people tend to eat more or less of, how you plan to store it, etc.

  1. This site, love food, hate waste, is site teaching about food waste and how to cut down. The statistics are based from the UK, but the principles can be applied anywhere. It helps with planning portion, storing and recipes so you can use the same ingredients in a different recipe.
  2. You can also donate it. I feel a little iffy about this sometimes, but if you can find a homeless shelter who will take unpackaged food then why not?
  3. Have a potluck. Everyone bring a dish and take home the leftovers.
  4. Embrace the leftovers. I’m not a big fan of leftovers, but some things like pie can never be eaten too many times. I try to just think of everything as leftover pie.
  5. Compost your plain, raw fruits and veggies.

The main thing is to be aware of the waste and take it into a count when planning your holiday festivities. Feel free to leave a comment on how you plan to cut down waste during the holiday season.

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Eating Fuel

My last post talked about how to use less gas, which had a link to an article that had a lot of tips, but it forgot to mention one important thing and that was food.

I read a book not that long ago called Animal, Vegetable Miracle about a family who gardened and tried to live local for a year. The following information/numbers I received from that book.

One thing that most people don’t consider when they calculate their gas consumption is their food. Four hundred gallons per citizen in one year goes toward agriculture. That’s a hefty 17 percent. Tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigations, sprayers, tillers, balers and other petroleum ticks are all taken into account for this calculation. Synthetic fertilizers are also petroleum based.

And considering all of that, the growing process only takes one-fifth of that 400 gallons.

The average meal, consisting of only food grown in America, travels over 1,500 miles. This number doesn’t include the energy consumed drying, cutting, sorting, baking, packaging (plastic is a petroleum product) warehousing and refrigeration.

The energy that we actually get from these foods is a far cry from the energy that it took to actually get it to our plates.

If you don’t think just drinking straight gas would be a good solution then I have a proposition. If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.

There are many arguments against local food systems. One is that we are helping to support third world countries. Who is giving these arguments? It certainly isn’t the farmers from those countries, but those humble, kind, loving, innocent, caring CEO from those loving, do good, multi-billion/million dollar corporations that are known for the money they donate to charities. Developed nations promote domestic overproduction of commodity crops that are sold on the international market at well below market value, weakening those fragile economies. This drives farmers to get a job, decreasing agricultural output of that country, which forces them to end up buying those same commodity crops that put them in that position. They will no longer be farm owners, but will become farm laborers. Not to mention the miles of deforestation that will occur. These countries will now be poorer and will own less giving corporations the muscle to do the dirty work in the poorest conditions; environmental policies and human rights out the window.

What does exporting and importing really accomplish anyway? The U.S. exports 1.1 million pounds of potatoes, but it imports 1.4 million pounds of potatoes!!!! What kind of logic is that?! www.viacampesina.org

At first glance, industrial/unhealthy/processed food seems cheaper than organic/healthy/unprocessed food. But we pay for it and not just in health or environmental ways, but in the pocket book, in taxes. Twenty-two billion dollars in taxes are paid for the agricultural fuel, $3 billion for the farm bill, which goes to corporations and not small farms, $10 billion for food related illnesses, $17 billion in chemical clean-up costs (I don’t even want to know how much we paid for the oil spill clean-up), $8 billion for collateral costs of pesticide use, and last, but not least, $20 billion in nutrients lost in soil erosion. That is $80 billion in subsidies, approximately $725 per household not including the price of our ‘cheap’ food.

Organic practices build the soil using manure and cover crops, eliminate herbicides and pesticides by using biological pest controls. Not to mention true organic farms use less packaging and distribute closer to their farms. In Oklahoma we don’t even have to pay tax for food that was sold on the same farm that it was grown.

So, how can we buy food with less gas?

Become a locavore. Like I mentioned earlier, if every family in America ate one local meal a week (food made within 100 miles) then we could save 1.1 million gallons of gas. If this isn’t possible then start as close as you can and work your way out. Check the Community Supported Agriculture site and check for co-ops in your area. Farmer’s Markets are also a great place to find local food.

The Eat Well Guide is also a great site to help find local food from farms, restaurants, CSAs and more.

Gardening is probably the most gas efficient thing you can do. If done right, it doesn’t take any pesticides, fertilizers or gasoline to grow your own food. If you don’t have enough space, community gardens are a great alternative.

If neither of those things are options, then eating seasonally is the next best option. When we eat out of season foods, we are eating foods that have been shipped thousands of miles because they’re coming from places with different climates. These foods are often processed to keep them from going bad on the ride. They’re not as fresh and have lost much of the nutrients on the car ride. If nothing else, when that particular food you can’t give up is in season, make sure you buy it local instead of buying the same food from 3000 miles away.

GMO Kick: Part 3- Solutions

The first part of this post is the important part if you want to know how to avoid GMOs. The second part is important part if you want to save the world from GMOs. But if you want the super short version, the picture says it all. Grow your own food even if you can only manage a tiny amount. Look for heirloom seeds, hybrids if you must comprise. Gardening, waiting may be less convenient than just going to the store whenever you need something, but it’s the only way you’ll know for sure what you’re eating.

The problem with GMOs is enough to cause insanity, but I take comfort in knowing that there is something I can do about it, something we can all do about it. Immediately after this comfort I am depressed by the knowledge of how many people are not doing any of these, but then I remind myself that it all starts with the choice of the individual. I am an individual and so are you and we have a choice.

In order to avoid GMOs, try to do the following:

(1) There are two labels that you want to watch out for. USDA (or other agency) certified organic doesn’t ensure much, but it does tell you that you’re looking at something that shouldn’t, at the very least, have GMOs in it. The None GMO Verified seal from the non-GMO project, a non-government group that inspects foods from provider members. View the seal here (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/non-gmo-project-seal.html).

Unfortunately, neither label is an absolute 100% guarantee that there are no slight traces of GMOs. Nearby GMO crops of the same type you purchase can pollute even organic crops and still be USDA approved as organic.

(2) Almost all corn, and soy crops in the USA and Canada are genetically modified. A lot of cotton is and canola is genetically modified. Avoid those cotton seed and canola oils. Beet sugar can come from genetically modified beets. Unless you’re getting it from an absolutely reliable source then avoid these crops at all costs. Corn and soy is, in some form or another, present in virtually all processed foods. Unless it’s certified organic or a fruit or vegetable, it probably has GMOs in it.

(3) Nearly 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMOs. These need to have one or both of the labels mentioned earlier. Besides causing liver damage, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn syrup sweeteners come from GMO corn. Another toxic sweetener, aspartame, is also a GMO.

(4) Realize that the term “natural” on a food product is meaningless for determining an organic or non-GMO food product. It’s simply deceptive marketing.

(5) Non – organic milk and milk products are usually from cows fed GMO corn or soy. Even worse, one-third of commercial milking cows are injected with patented Monsanto GMO growth hormones called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

If dairy is not labeled organic or grass fed, at least look for a labels that says no hormones or rBGH. Traces of pus or blood from rBGH cows’ udder infections is not nutritious. Meat eaters should avoid factory farm meats that are fed GMOs and injected with antibiotics. Look for organic grass fed.

(6) Avoid packaged cereals unless the logos from section (1) are present. If you have children, train them patiently to not demand those cereals in brightly colored boxes. Most are full of GMOs, even if they say “natural” or appear in health food stores.

Here’s a handy free shopping guide to help you maneuver food aisles without buying GMOs (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/download.html).’

I got in an interesting debate with a couple of people over an article about whether our food should be GMO labeled. The first guy said started by saying that labeling would raise food prices. I can’t find the article, so I can only tell you the general outline of our conversation. A lady jumped in and said there was nothing wrong with processed foods and she said something about it being the food she trusted to feed her family. I almost vomited then, but I tried to explain what ‘real food’ was and that it was not the twinkies, chips or anything else that has all the nutrients processed out of it like the fast meals that only have to be stuck in the microwave. Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean you should eat it.

I don’t think I ever got my point across. The guy kept saying stuff like everything was technically a GMO. He called the process of cross-pollination and selective breeding the same as genetically modifying in a lab. He had several classes in bioengineering to thank for this. The lady at some point said that GMOs were needed to feed  the world. I told her that we didn’t need them and even if we did, they are not the answer. I didn’t have the health evidence that I do now, I couldn’t find anything more than probable health complications, and I’m not sure what exactly I told her, but it was more or less my gut instinct. They can’t be good because of how unnatural they are. Her response was that if I didn’t recommend GMOs then what was my solution to world hunger? It was a good question. If someone is going to complain about the answer someone else came up with then they better have a different answer. My answer is less convenient, but it’s still an option. I typed up my response on a word document because I couldn’t do it all at once, so I needed to save it and that’s why I still have it. Here is what I said:

Well first I’ll say that it’s not a snap your finger and it’s done answer. There are many things that have to change if we are to have a sustainable way of feeding people. GMOs are a short term answer for a long term problem. Because there are many things that have to change in our food system, I don’t have all the answers and they won’t be as in depth as they need to be because I’d need a novel in order to cover it all. Second, my answers aren’t something I can do by myself. It can only work if people are willing to work together. Third, it is my personal belief that the Earth doesn’t belong to us. Us as in people, as in people currently living on the planet and us as in humans in general. We’re sharing it with animals, insects, plants, everything else (which no matter how much we modify food we can’t live without. Our success depends on theirs so we should try harder to keep them around) and we’re borrowing it from the generations that are coming after us. People think that they can live whatever kind of life they want and never have any consequences and that just isn’t the case. Nature is not the problem. Humans are the problem. That being said there are a couple of major problems. Overpopulation is a problem. At some point it will be impossible to feed everyone. If we don’t run out of food then we’ll run out of clean water and air. We need to realize that and the sooner the better. Another problem is the meat industry. Cows were meant to eat grass and only grass despite what those big corporations tell you about their healthy diet of corn, soy and whatever else. Over 70 percent of the corn we use today is fed to cows. The other 30 percent is fed to humans, pigs and poultry. If we went back to feeding cows grass then it would free up the space of the corn that we’re feeding them and also the space of feedlot. Not only that, but we wouldn’t be polluting the water with our huge amounts of cow crap. Cow dung is actually supposed to help fertilize soil. The way our system is set up with cows here and crops over here and more specifically that most farmers grow corn and only corn is that the soil isn’t being fertilized properly. Chemical fertilizers aren’t fixing that and can’t fix it. If there are no nutrients in the soil then we can’t grow anything. GMOs won’t fix this.

They aren’t just growing extra corn to feed corn, but they’re putting it in gas. Is that something people should do if the world was starving?

We are actually overproducing food. The world produces enough grain to feed every person at least 3,500 calories a day. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/denlinger/problems.html  Some say more than 40 percent of food produced in America isn’t eaten, which makes that about 29 million tons of food waste and that they say can fill the Rose Bowl every three days. Food scraps make up 17 percent of our waste in landfills. It seems to me that if we really cared about those hungry people we would at least stop taking more than our fair share and throwing it away.

http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/wasted_food

Once I read an article that said a quarter of the food sent to Africa was wasted because it went bad before it even got there. The problem isn’t growing the stuff; it’s getting it to its destination.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html?pagewanted=all

That’s my first suggestion. Stop wasting. My next would be to start growing our own food. Everyone can grow something even if it’s having a cherry tomato plant or a blueberry bush, every little bit helps keep pressure off the food system, which means they don’t have to take such drastic measures to feed everyone. Also supporting local farmers help. This doesn’t help people in Africa where it’s dry and nearly impossible to grow things, but what we don’t use can be sent to help them.

http://www.naturalnews.com/025699_food_garden_life.html

I have read several articles that claim and have proof of the idea that medium sized organic and non-organic farms are the answer. They can produce more than the giant corporations who are responsible for the all the processed foods.

http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=8764

As far as what real food is, as simply as I can put it is fruits and vegetables. That’s my definition, but here’s a better one. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=pollan+happy+meals

Because I’m no expert and I wrote this late, late last night so I’m sure it’s poorly written at best I’m going to suggest a couple of things. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve heard really good things about it. It should show just what these corporations that you’re trusting to feed your children will do in order to take your next dollar. There is a movie, but it’s horrible and does nothing to explain anything so don’t watch it. Folks, this ain’t normal by Joel Salatin. This book does a good job explaining what is wrong with the current food system. Food, Inc. is a movie. If nothing else watch this movie. It will change the whole way that you see food and it’s only a couple of hours as opposed to a whole book.

The lady had nothing to say after this. That left me with only one person to worry about, but interestingly enough just happened to work in the meat industry. He, of course, said what I said about the meat industry wasn’t true. Some of those people who work in the meat industry think they’re saints. Trying to argue with that wouldn’t have done any good, so I moved onto his next point, which was if the food were rotting before they got to the recipients, what could be better than growing the food where the recipients are? It’s a good point, but if GMOs are going to kill them anyway then what’s the point of that? Also, road infrastructure isn’t like it is here where we have roads to take you where you want to go. Harvesting and transporting would still be a problem. I’m sure we could still be discussing the subject now, but I said that we may have to agree to disagree and gave my last response. I don’t let things go, so as long as someone says something then I’ll say something back. Luckily, this guy was the bigger person and he let us go.

Getting Connected 2: Producers

Producers are at the very bottom of the food chain. They produce their own food, hence the word producer, by processing sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugar/glucose. The process is called photosynthesis. For this reason, they are the most essential thing on the planet. Without these humble life sustainers, there would be no other living thing on Earth. Everything we put in our mouth, in some form, came from a plant. Even totally carnivorous animals, such as lions, need plants because their prey are plant eaters.

Food isn’t the only reason why plants are vital. They act as filters for our soil, water and air. They give us air by converting the carbon dioxide that we breathe out into oxygen so we can breathe it back in. We couldn’t even breath with these things. They give us shelter. About 90 percent of homes today are made from wood whether for just the structure or the whole thing. Trees, even dead ones, can be homes for up to 1,000 different insect species. Small animals also make their homes in these trees.

http://continuingeducation.construction.com/article.php?L=5&C=645&P=1

Around one-fourth of our prescription medicine has some kind of plant origin. Native Americans used up to 2,000 plants species for medicine.

Ingredients for cosmetics often come from plants. As we also know corn has become an ingredient for everything. Aloe vera and jojaba are common ingredients in cosmetics as well.

Anytime humans are involved in any part of nature bad things happen.  Exotic species is a good example of this. Sometimes the species are introduced on purpose to help balance out the overpopulation of something else. This always ends badly. Sometimes they’re brought over by people who are traveling by boat or something. The rats that traveled by way of ship and brought the black plague with them is an example of this. Sometimes they’re introduced by idiots. Like the people who buy those exotic snakes and then they realize, like all living things, that snakes grow and then they release them into the wild. Even exotic species of plants are an overwhelming problem. Native species often don’t have the necessary strengths needed to compete with the exotic species so they’re overrun by them.

Habitat loss is the main problem. Animals and insects who mostly depend on plants for habitat, so if we cut it all down where are they supposed to go? It drives me nuts when people complain about animals in their yards or in their house because it’s like where else are they supposed to go? We’ve ruined just about every place they could go.

Recreational hobbies are a destructive force when it comes plant life. Bulldozing down the trees, digging up the grass to build a structure, even a small one, demolishes some kind of plant life. There is no way around it. Even something as insignificant as a blade of grass is important. Everything from football stadiums to a tennis court to the extra roads needed to get to that place will have an effect on the environment.

Why is grass so important? You’d be surprise. I know that I was when I learned that on a hot day a lawn of grass is 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil. Like other plants, it filters drain off, reduces erosion, absorbs noise, traps allergens and 2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases enough oxygen daily for a family of four to survive.

http://www.floridalawn.com/greengrass.html

It is also the main component of the diet for grazing animals, which we tend to like to eat. We may want to keep something around to feed them.

The bottom line is producers are essential. We should do more to protect them. Our survival depends on it.

Corn

Corn. When we think of corn, we usually think of corn on the Cobb or kernels. It’s usually white or yellow, sweet and delicious. That’s what I think of when I think about corn, but the reality is that vision is long gone and is a very old-fashioned way of thinking of corn.

Believe it or not, corn is in virtually everything. It makes up about 90 percent of our diets.

High fructose corn syrup? Made from corn.

Beef, chicken, pig, every meat you can imagine? Fed with corn. (Unless you get grass-fed. )

Sweetener in soda? Made from corn.

Corn starch? Made from corn.

Favorite French fries from McDonalds? Fried in corn oil.

Sauces? The thickening agents found in sauces are Dextrin and Maltodextrin. They  are also found in dressing, frozen veggies and ice cream. Made from corn.

Decyl Glucoside – used in personal care products such as shampoo.

Gas used to ship all this stuff all over the country? Comprised with ethanol, which is made from corn.

This isn’t even half of it. The list goes on and on and on and on.

Why is it in everything? Because it’s cheap. Because there is an over-production of it. Why? Because the government subsidizes it. The government has given over $77 billion in corn subsidies from 1995 to 2010. It’s why junk food is so much cheaper than real food.

Why are they doing this? Federal support for agriculture, begun in earnest during the Great Depression, was originally intended as a temporary lifeline to farmers, paying them extra when crop prices were low.

What has kept the cash flow coming? “Big Ag”. Industrial farmers, which are not to be confused with small farmers, have been lobbying congress ever since. Industrial farms grow huge amounts of corn. This not only contributes to the problem of corn overproduction, but it also is bad for the land because crop rotations helps keep nutrients in the soil. Growing huge amounts of corn over and over will cause the nutrients to dry up and then what? Small farms are now switching to this corn business because they aren’t making enough money growing other fruits and vegetables.

What people don’t realize is that food is supposed to cost something. It costs something to produce it. The government pays to make corn cheaper, but the cost comes from somewhere else. And the low prices doesn’t help pay for labor, so the people growing the food get paid and treated like crap. Not only that, but when America produces a certain kind of food like rice or corn and ships it to a poorer country that mainly grows that crop as an income for their own farmers and we sell it to them for cheaper than they can grow it themselves then that puts their own farmers out of business and ruins their economy.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the drought and food prices will soar. I don’t know about you, but anytime I heard about the soaring food prices they show rows and rows of corn and then they talk about corn. Corn, COrn, CORN!!!! I’ve shifted through article after article and the most I’ve got is that it’s affecting subsidized crops like corn, soy, wheat, mostly what is grown in the mid –U.S., which will in turn affect the meat industry. What, are apples, peaches, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, not food? They never mention that the reason ‘food’ prices will raise is because corn is in EVERYTHING! It’s a bit interesting that they say ‘food’ and then they only mention those kinds of crops and fail to mention why that should affect processed foods. People still don’t see the correlation. I’m guessing that other fruits and vegetables prices will stay the same, unless there isn’t enough to feed everyone because farmers have grown less because not enough people wanted them. If those fruits and vegetable prices don’t soar, I’m wondering if people will even notice that they’re cheaper or will people die of starvation because ‘food’ is so expensive.

What We Can Do About Animal Cruelty

We’ve all been informed on the high prices of factory farming. The information that I presented is not everything you can learn about animal cruelty on a factory farm. There is fish, turkey, duck, bees and various other animals that still have voices that should be heard. I have barely scratched the surface of this problem. This information has different effects on different people. Depending on what taste has been left in your mouth, you may be willing to take more drastic measures than some. Today I’m going to give you your options.

You could become a vegan. For most, this is the most drastic lifestyle change you can make. It requires giving up all animal products. You should definitely research this in greater detail in regards to nutrition and what exactly you have to give up. Below is a list of a couple of sites that I found that seem to have some good information to help you get started, but there are tons of others that will help you, in a step by step fashion, become vegan.

http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/animal-substances.aspx

http://www.theveganwoman.com/

http://www.veganfamilyliving.com/

Vegan may not be the right choice for you at this point or for me. I know that where I live doesn’t even have vegetarian options, let alone vegan, so if you can’t quite make it to vegan, you could always try vegetarian. You should also really look into nutritional facts before trying either of these diets.

http://www.howtobecomeavegetarian.org/

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian/

http://www.happycow.net/becoming_vegetarian.html

http://www.veggieglobal.com/menu.htm

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. My issue is not eating meat as a whole. It’s not necessary, it’s not natural and vegetables are better for the environment as a whole and I could argue about it until I’m blue, but arguing with people is pointless and it’s really not my main concern to get people to stop eating meat altogether.

So for those who are refusing to give up meat altogether, I have another proposition for you. Open your mind for just a minute, a fraction a second, a teensy tinsy fraction of a second. What if you just ate less? What if you gave it up for one meal or ate half the portion that you usually do? Or if you’re feeling good, maybe gave vegetarianism a trial run for a day, maybe two or maybe even a whole week. I’ll admit that before I watched Food, Inc. that was not happening. I didn’t even want to consider it. I ‘loved’ meat and there was another factor, too. I always felt like I was starving if I didn’t eat it. Two things happened when I watched Food, Inc. I immediately wanted to stop eating meat, but I knew that I had to replace it with something. Something that I really didn’t like at all and that was…vegetables. A couple of months before that I realized how tired I was eating meat and potatoes all the time, so I ventured out and tried…a cucumber. It wasn’t as bad as I remember it being when I was a kid. That gave me some confidence to try an avocado, which wasn’t as bad either. And that got the ball rolling, so when I watched Food, Inc. I was already half the way there because I knew I would have something to replace meat with. I still don’t like vegetables all that much, but it’s worth it to me. My mom had also been cutting back our meat consumption a little a time because we wanted a healthier diet. After the movie, she cut back a little more and the craziest thing happened. I wasn’t as hungry when I ate less meat or no meat at all. Before I had been lacking nutrients in my meat and potato diet which was the reason I always felt like my stomach was eating itself.

She also started looking for less cruel places to get our meat. A little at a time, we started to replace factory farm meat with local farm meat from places that at least gave the animals a good life. This is your fourth option. To find a good local farmer that you can trust or know. That’s the best you can do if you’re not willing to give some up. Here is a great, great, great article about that. It even breaks down what the labels mean. According to this article, the worst places that you can buy from is Buckeye, Cargill, which is the largest corporation in the U.S. and if I remember correctly it’s the largest meat producer in the world, ConAgra, the second largest food company in the US, DeCoster, the nations’s fourth largest egg producer and on and on I could go. Tyson is also in this article and that’s the big one I’ve always heard about in terms of animal cruelty. Of those videos I posted, most came from Tyson. This pdf is 23 pages long, but if you care anything about the environment, yourself, animals, about anything at all, you need to read this. It will give a list of people not to buy from and why. Most of it air and water violations, serious ones, but there are some animal right and cruelty violations. There more than what is on this list and that is why I suggest buying from a local farmer. This pdf also has links to sites with maps of local farms and co-ops.

I’ve read several times, that if you just make one healthy change then it kind of makes your body start to crave healthier things. When I stopped eating so much meat, I actually didn’t want as much sugar. Sugar had been kind of like an addiction for me. I really felt like I needed it, but the more vegetables and less meat I ate, the easier it was for me to control. Part of the reason was because I was craving meat so bad, but that phase is over and I still don’t feel quite the strong pull that I did before. Try to keep this mind when you’re thinking that you could never give up meat. Just give the idea a chance. If it doesn’t work then just do the best you can with any of the suggestions I’ve made.

Tell everyone you know or who will listen. Show them. Sometimes it takes seeing things before they actually register. Don’t bully because that can turn people off.

Sign a petition. Change.org has tons of petitions. Just type in animal cruelty, animal rights or factory farms and sign away or start your own. They have a list of victories, but I honestly don’t know how much these petitions help.

As far as people in charge of policies and who can make the biggest changes, here is a list for that.

EPA. The EPA is in charge of regulating water and air. Right now, the EPA only requires permits for facilities that declare their intention to release manure directly into waterways. Communities across the country are suffering from water contaminated by these unregulated wastes, oversprayed fields and air pollution from overcrowded livestock operations. Learn more about the environmental costs of eating meat here and here. http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5232

Congress is another group that you want to talk to. It’s hard to tell whether they are even listening to us anymore, but they should because being elected seems to be what is most important to them. Here is a great site that gives information by state on how to get in your touch with your legislatures.

And lastly, go to the source. The people that I mentioned above and anyone in the pdf could use a little humbling. They’ll deny that they had anything to do with anything and your letter will probably never even be looked at by someone in charge, but go for it. Just go for it.

There is also any number of organizations like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals even PETA to donate to. And by the way, while I was looking information, I found out that the people who are taping these videos could be charged with terrorism. Making these videos was already considered illegal, but they are so determined to hide this ugly truth that they are willing try to count it as an act of terrorism. Who can we thank for this? Lobbyists. Corporations spend thousands to millions of dollars to make sure that their agenda is pushed in congress. We will have to start screaming at the top of our lungs if we don’t want our voices drowned out by money.

The Cost of Eating Meat

Here’s the thing:  June 24-30 is animal abuse awareness week. I did not know this and therefore am unprepared, content wise, emotionally and mentally. I’ve been thinking about covering this topic for a while, but haven’t really known where to start or how to get across everything that I want to. Since there is no time like the present, I will try to do my best to get some decent posts out about this subject.  I’m not vegetarian and I am certainly not vegan. I wish I could be. If no one cooked for me or if only I cooked for myself then I could do it no problem. Yeah, sometimes I would crave it, but I’ve craved donuts for years now and will power is an amazing thing. I can’t force the people I live with to rearrange their lives around mine. At restaurants there are very, very few options for vegetarians and no options for vegans. My favorite dishes I can no longer eat, but I can’t replace it with anything that is hardly considered a meal. If I’m lucky I can find a boring quesadilla. Sometimes I’m lucky and I can just get my favorite salad with an interesting dressing and just ask for no meat, but sometimes that even goes wrong and I find little bits of chicken from where they forgot and at the last second picked the pieces out.

I think people who eat meat are selfish. No matter what the reason is. I’m selfish. And I hate it. I hate being selfish, but as long as I choose to pick people’s feelings over lives then I guess that is a hate I’ll have to try not to choke myself with.

With that being said I’m not going to be your traditional vegetarian/vegan. I’d like to be, but A) that would make me a hypocrite because I eat meat and B) it’s highly unrealistic for me to expect that no matter what logic I try to show you or pictures I show you, you will decide to never touch another animal product as long as you should live. Instead, I’m going to beg you to give me just a few more minutes of your time, so that I can share with you some reasons that you should just eat LESS meat if not give it up entirely.

Money Cost. There is different variations to these experiments. What city you’re shopping in, how much you eat, etc. I didn’t use any pro-vegetarian sites for this argument because I figure they have a reason to be biased. Some said you could save money and some said it was more expensive. I think the deciding factor is exactly what you’re buying. That fake meat stuff, or dairy substitutes I think are what make a vegetarian diet more expensive. Also, if you think of how much money you could end up spending on hospital bills due to unhealthy habits then there really is no comparison.

When comparing just fruits, vegetables, and nuts to meat, the savings are pretty noticeable.

Cost/lb Corn- .043

Soybeans-.093

Wheat-.086

Peanuts-.021

Pork-.069

Beef-1.228

Broilers-.471

Milk-.206

http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/55529/2/lusk%20-%20current.pdf

http://20somethingfinance.com/cost-of-vegetarian-diet/

Humanitarian Cost.

Twenty million people will die this year as a result of malnutrition. If Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be fed by the land that was freed. Only 20% of the corn grown in the U.S. is eaten by people. The other 80% is fed to livestock. Ninety-five percent of the oats grown in the U.S. is fed to livestock. By cycling grain through livestock, 90% of protein is wasted. Forty thousand  pounds of potatoes can be grown on one acre, but only 250 pounds of beef can be produced on that same acre and fifty-six percent of our land is devoted to beef production. Sixteen pounds of grain and soybeans are needed to produce one pound of edible flesh from feedlot beef.  Just to point out, grass-fed beef still takes land to grow, but they feed off the land that they are on instead of needing additional land to grow grain.

Percentage of US farmland devoted to beef production: 56
http://www.consumercide.com/js/index.php/food-supply/39-necessarily-vegetarian/379-how-to-win-an-argument-with-a-meat-eater

Health Costs

Vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease heart disease, colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers, diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure). This could be attributed to the fact that the vegetarian diet usually involves a diet low in fat and high in fiber. These affects could be negated when their diet is high in fat or includes excessive amounts of fatty snack foods or fried foods.

There are many benefits of eating meat. It does have things that we need, but these aren’t things that can’t be found non-meat food.  For the most part, these things include protein, zinc, and B vitamins. All of which can be found in several different kinds of vegetables.

Calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies can arise in a vegan diet, but surprisingly study participants did not suffer from osteoporosis which typically related to inadequate intakes of these micro-nutrients.

Not only are vegetables healthier in way of nutrients, but they also don’t require waste or antibiotics to be streamed into our water supply. Which can then lead to our food supply. Ever hear of a recall of produce because E. Coli? You can thank the meat industry. Because the animals are always crammed together, diseases run rampant throughout the feedlots. Antibiotics are used. Those antibiotics are in our food and water supply and are now contributing to antibiotic resistant strings of bacteria.

Environmental Costs.

Worldwide, over 284 million tons of meat was consumed. As Americans, we eat 8 ounces a day which is twice the global average. As Americans, we also represent about 5% of the world population, but as we process and consume 10 billion animals a year, we are representing about 15% of the meat consumption.

About 30% of the ice-free land is dedicated to the meat industry and gives off 1/5 of the greenhouse gases which is more than transportation.

Or, you could also say 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Farm animals produce 16.6 billion tons of excrement per year. That is more than a million pounds per second (that’s 60 times as much as is produced by the world’s human population.) For the UN, animal agriculture is a leading case of water pollution.

Farm animals and water needed to irrigate the crops to feed them are responsible for consuming 240 trillion gallons per year or 7.5 million gallons per second.

It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein.

The meat industry is also responsible for soil erosion, 40 billion tons per year to be exact.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/137737/13_breathtaking_effects_of_cutting_back_on_meat/

All is not lost though. Click here for some solutions.