Going green gets literal.
You’ve replaced all the bulbs in your house with energy efficient bulbs, started biking and walking places, collected reusable cloth shopping bags, switched to a hybrid car, bought a share in a community garden, use natural soaps and detergents, and recycle down to your last biodegradable straw and spoon. You, like many others, know that going green is better for the environment, and it is.
But it’s not the whole story.
You’ve surely heard of carbon emissions, the front liner and resident bad guy. The dastardly gas that we all blame for making the ozone into swiss cheese. Endless news broadcasts and policy debates revolve around efficient cars and factory emissions. While I applaud the (sortof) effort that several governmental administrations have expended, there is a far bigger pollutant that policy makers have been ignoring. Move over, carbon, there’s a new villain in town, although it’s technically not new, and goes by the name of methane.
Quick science review: each harmful gas is measured by it’s global warming potential (GWP). It measures how much heat gases trap in the atmosphere. The potential of a gas depends on the time span in which its effects are considered. Carbon is the system’s baseline at 1. If we take a look at methane’s GWP over a 20 year span, its GWP is 72. Methane traps 72 times the heat that carbon traps. Methane accounts for just about half of Earth’s manmade warming, yet almost no attention is paid to this massive pollutant. Animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all the transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause of climate change.
“It’s always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.”
Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan’s point? If you want to know the truth, you have to be willing to listen to it with open arms, rather than with arms crossed. The truth isn’t always what you’re expecting. It may not always be easy to listen to.
I am writing to advocate the truth about our food and to advocate taste, both physical and discerning. My intended reader is someone who, like me, knows something is not quite right with the food industry and feels we’re not being told everything. If you’re here, you’re sincerely interested in understanding the personal, political, cultural, and economic implications of the intimate act that is eating. So am I. My intent is to give shape to the suspicions that our intuitions have grasped in the midst of staggering amounts of misinformation. I’d like to compile a guide that can assist you in separating truth from lies in the food industry.
Results of a government agency doing its job, both regulating and promoting industry.
Two puzzling contradictions
1. Despite our evolving technology, and the safety in food and better healthcare we’d think it would bring, we are getting sicker.
2. More food is available now than at any time in history, yet we are nutritionally malnourished.
One way to characterize these contradictions among us is by invoking the idea of the inverse relationship. Simple enough. Two correlated factors affect each other in such a way that the two are driven to increase or decrease in opposite directions. I am not suggesting that any of these facts causes the other, as correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. The simultaneous coexistences of these contradictions, however, reveal a grim irony that we face every single time we eat or reach for medication. These conflicting relationships are anything but simple, and seem to go against our logic. What is happening? Why is it happening? Where are the regulators?