Thursday, August 28, 2008

She just doesn't know what she's talking about

(and neither does Tyler Cowan. Maybe his hair is better informed.)

How to eat tofu without really trying

Tyler Cowen notes that yes, eating less meat would help fight global warming much better [sic] than eating local:
In my view we do have duties to behave more responsibly at the dinner table but the simple admonition "eat less meat" will do. Maybe you don't like tofu but sardines are delicious, or use Goya small red beans with shredded Mexican cheese (even the Kraft package is decent) and ground chile on a corn tortilla. Don't forget the lime on top.
Soy = environmentally friendly, right? Not necessarily. Soy is the second largest crop in the US today, typically grown under industrial conditions that are very much not environmentally friendly. Additionally, that soy has to be processed into tofu, something no longer done by hand, meaning more industrialization, and it has to be packaged, then flown and driven to the supermarket.
Eating local cuts out the flying and likely reduces the driving required. It also generally encourages independent farms which are less industrialized, especially considering that localvores make a point of encouraging organic growing practices. Then there's the benefits of eating non industrial meat to consider. And, while there's certainly no guarantee, the odds are the humans involved in the production of food consumed by localvores fare much better than those in the industrial meat grinder. Furthermore, local produce usually involves a great deal less packaging.
On the other hand, let's look at Tyler's second 'better' meal option. Sardines are first removed from an ocean whose biomass we are rapidly depleting, then shipped to a processing factory. Then a tin must be manufactured and filled, both industrial processes. Then the tins are flown and driven to stores. Goya beans are grown industrially, then processed, packed in another industrially manufactured can, then flown and driven. Shit, even the lime is picked by a migrant worker then flown and driven. I have a hard time believing a locally raised and slaughtered cow farts enough to outweigh the carbon emissions involved in Tyler's 'better' meal.
Finally, am I the only one with a massive sense of deja vu right now? I'm not going to hunt through the archives, but I feel like this post has already happened. Hmm.

1 comment:

clever pseudonym said...

Not only is soy/tofu not necessarily environmentally friendly, but I recall stories a few years ago about some states having to lax their hunting laws and quotas because a bunch of soy farmers were complaining about deer and other wild animals eating up their crops. In order for vegetarians to get their tofu, they had to sic a bunch of hunters on the Bambi population, so you're not necessarily eating animal-friendly buy choosing tofu.