Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dr. McDougall and the Implications of the Current Drought

I am an optimist, but…the worst drought in the United States in nearly a half-century has occurred over the summer of 2012. Twenty to 40 percent of the crops of soybeans and corn, which feed the pigs, cows, and poultry, have been destroyed; and food prices are rising worldwide. Since, as the saying goes, “you can’t change the weather,” what else can we fix? We can fix our food supply. Rather than feeding the crops to animals, we could instead eat the corn, wheat, soybeans, and potatoes ourselves. The savings would be world-changing.

Converting plant energy into animal energy is wasteful: It takes about 7 pounds of edible, healthy grains to produce just 1 pound of beef, 4 pounds for a pound of pork, and 2 pounds for a pound of chicken. Reallocating land from animal to crop production would increase our food resources at least seventeen-fold: Crops like potatoes can produce 17 times the calories as animals on the same piece of land. There would be additional positive consequences of replacing animal foods in our diet with plants.

The rate of progression of global warming would be slowed. Fossil fuels (the primary source of climate change) used in the production of food would be reduced forty-fold. Consider that about 2 calories of fossil fuel energy are required to cultivate 1 calorie of starchy vegetable food energy; with beef, the ratio can be as high as 80:1. With this same change in eating we would also reduce the needless suffering from the health consequences of our lives of excess, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and breast, prostate, and colon cancer, to name a few. We would reduce our national debt by vastly reducing the health care costs associated with these unnecessary illnesses. And we would free a great portion of the world from starvation.

-from an article in Dr. McDougall's latest newsletter, entitled "Lessons from the Past, Directions for the Future: The WWI Starch Solution for Denmark," the entirety of which is well worth reading.  

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