Craving Lamb Chops? Read This First

<a href="http://www.freefoto.com/preview/09-24-3/Beef-Burger">FreePhoto.com</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


If your dietary goals include making as much of a mess as possible, I have a recipe for you.

First, devote huge swaths of the nation’s best farmland to grains and beans in monocrops. Drench them in petrochemical-based fertilizers and poisons, much of which will run off into groundwater. Then, instead of eating the resulting mountains of grains and beans—that would be far too efficient—feed them to animals.

To ensure that you’re creating as overwhelming a waste problem as possible, concentrate them by the thousands into vast pens and cages. Keeping them alive and growing in such cramped, unsanitary conditions will require staggering loads of antibiotics, thus providing an excellent breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

 OK, now run those animals through factory-scale slaughterhouses. Slaughtering them at such scale will require unthinkable amounts of clean water, and ensure a gusher wastewater teaming with dangerous nitrates and other poisons. Ship the resulting meat across the country in refrigerated trucks. Still hungry? Cook some industrial meat—or let a fast-food chain do so for you. Bonus: Focus on species that would otherwise turn something humans can’t digest—grass—into meat. Cows fit the bill—in fact, grain diets make them sick, requiring more pharmaceuticals to keep them alive until slaughter.

That, in a nutshell, is the story told by Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health. Everyone who eats industrially produced meat should read it. Below is a teaser. Lamb is our most carbon-intensive foodstuff, EWG reports, but Americans barely eat any lamb. We do eat lots and lots of beef, though, and that habit contributes mightily to climate change. Note that cheese ranks third—kind of tragic, given that the USDA is working with the food industry to get more cheese into fast-food items. 

Big Mac Attack: Changing the climate one burger at a time. Big Mac Attack: Changing the climate one burger at a time.

 

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate