environment

Too many mouths to feed? Get stuffed

Food prices aren’t rising because the Earth is full. But Malthusian commentators are certainly full of BS.

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Eating from bins: a little anecdote

An article by Janice Turner in The Times today on the problem of food waste reminds me of a little exchange from Southwark Crown Court when I was doing jury service.

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Proof at last: eating meat is not bad for the environment

It turns out that all those green claims that we could save the planet by foreswearing meat were BS. Unfortunately, in the process of exposing this fact, Simon Fairlie still recycles many modern-day eco-prejudices.

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Cuba’s food revolution

Much has been made about Cuba’s post-oil farming: lots of urban agriculture and almost entirely organic. But Cuba still has to import 70 per cent of its food and, presumably to the despair of organic food supporters in the UK, has been developing its own genetically modified crops.

Cuba's food revolution, The Food Magazine

Britain needs factory farming

Very good piece by Jason Smith on the new ‘mega-dairy’ in Lincolnshire and why we should be seeking greater productivity from agriculture rather than mythologising the benefits of small-scale farming.

In defence of factory farming, spiked

I want to eat food, not build my entire life around it

This piece on Grist sums up very nicely the trouble with eco-foodieism. Ignoring any possible benefits of industrialised food production, it simply demands - from the point of view of a small, specialist farmer - that we pay more for food, only eat seasonally, even be prepared to work for free for a farmer, eat parts of animals we really don’t want to eat to avoid waste, and so on.

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Why meat might be good for the environment

Monbiot’s mea culpa: turns out that veganism is not the greenest way to produce food. In fact, producing meat is a smart way to turn crops, waste and pasture that cannot otherwise be used for humans otherwise into nutritious meat. The book that Monbiot quotes from, Simon Fairlie’s Meat: A Benign Extravangance looks a good one.

Here’s a link to Simon Fairlie’s article about it in Permaculture.

I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly, Guardian

The myth of local food’s benefits

Matt Ridley comments on Steve Budiansky’s theory of why ‘distant food’ is better than ‘local food’. The real energy user in the chain is, apparently, food preparation and storage. Modern agriculture uses comparatively little energy. But it does give us reliability of supply compared to the days when a local famine meant local starvation.

Budiansky and local food, Rational Optimist

Too many mouths to feed - or too little development?

Rose Prince thinks soil fertility will be the Next Big Issue because we make nitrogen fertilisers from crude oil and we’re running out of potassium. But we take nitrogen from the atmosphere using natural gas as a source of hydrogen (to make ammonia) and we’re not running out of potassium. But never let the facts get in the way of a new food panic.

Demand for food is costing the Earth, Daily Telegraph

Organic vs supermarket

This is an interesting piece in Time. It makes a few sweeping statements that I’m not sure are backed up by the facts - in particular, making the case in favour of organic foods when the differences are negligible or meaningless - but along the way it makes some good points.

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About Panic on a Plate

Once we worried about getting enough food. Now we seem to fret about having too much food, or about what food might do to us and the planet. This website is designed to be an antidote to food fears.

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Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed An Eating Disorder is published by Societas. Buy the book from Amazon (UK) here.

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