It’s not all greens. But there have been several interesting, important and yes, readable, articles and reports published recently on food – security and sustainability – that I wanted to note a few here. Since they’re tossed together, I thought of salad: a carrot here, an olive there, chickpeas, arugula, butter lettuce and an essential, red onion. Salad days ahead. Read on. First up: “The End of Plenty”, a National Geographic special report. How to feed a growing global population? Will (Thomas) Malthus be proved right? What’s the role of meat, monocultures and climate change? It’s all here in clean, clear prose and the photos are terrific. Then, a lengthy New York Times piece on Smithfield’s radical transformation of Poland’s and Romania’s pork industry. The speed with which it’s been achieved: warp. The midwives: a former American diplomat and compliant EU officials. So it’s goodbye small farmers. Hello factory pork facilities. Millions of Euros in EU subsidies have helped recreate U.S.-style intensification, to a ‘T’.
Pork’s more plentiful and cheap, but the number of pig farmers in Poland dropped by more than half in a decade; the shift in Romania was even more precipitous. Methane emissions are way up. Communities coping with factory farm pollution, stench and the dreary landscape aren’t happy. “We go crazy with the daily smell,” a school principal says. Finally, and aptly, a set of articles and ideas put together by a group that advises investors to move in the direction of “sustainability principles”, Vital Systems. Their compendium’s called “What About Meat?” organized around the meat-climate link. It’s a synthesis, so feel free to graze, as you would over a salad. Now, remind me why it is that U.S. President Obama keeps going out for burgers?! I know there’s arugula (or red leaf lettuce) to be had in Washington, DC, or even the White House’s own garden, and chefs only too happy to prepare it – as salad, or sauteed to taste. Final toss: here’s a video clip of hip hop mogul and vegan Russell Simmons on Obama’s burger jones, and why and how he ought to change it. As Simmons says, “He’s a leader…we hope he’ll learn.”