July 1, 2011

Focus on Food Day: The Consequences of Meat

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Earlier this week, CLF’s Robert S. Lawrence, MD, and Keeve Nachman, PhD, kicked off the Center for a Livable Future’s countdown to Food Day with a webinar, “Industrial food animal production and the high-meat American diet: health and environmental consequences.” (Audio; slides).

October 24, 2011, will be the first inaugural Food Day, a grassroots movement that promotes a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. In support of this nationwide campaign, organizations across the country will orchestrate events ranging from food-policy lectures to protests of junk-food stores to local, sustainable dinners and garden-building. Michael Jacobson, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is leading the effort.

U.S. per capita poultry consumption has tripled since 1950

U.S. per capita poultry consumption has tripled since 1950

The webinar, sponsored by CSPI, attracted scores of viewers from across the country. In the last 60 years, the nation’s per capita demand for meat has increased dramatically—particularly for poultry, the consumption of which has tripled since 1950—and industrial food animal production (IFAP) meets the demand, but at a cost. The true cost of meat, said Dr. Lawrence, CLF’s director, goes far beyond the sticker price in the supermarket. Some of the costs include extreme damage to soil, water and air, resulting in environmental degradation; a decrease in biodiversity; the increased introduction of chemicals, veterinary drugs and synthetic hormones, endocrine disruptors, and pesticide residues into human food systems; an uptick in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA; strikes against rural America’s social capital; and global climate change. Inevitably, human health, particularly among those who live nearest the IFAP sites, has been eroded.

“Food Day is an opportunity to address the connections between food and health,” said Lawrence. The reduction in meat consumption through programs like Meatless Monday, a national campaign supported by CLF, can help reduce the intake of saturated fat and improve the environment, he noted. CSPI plans future webinars leading up to Food Day. More information is available on their website.




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