Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not Just An Omnivore's Dilemma, It's Everyone's Dilemma

Every now and then I get up on my soapbox and speak to the masses.  This is one of those times.  Where I live in Virginia, we have not any significant rainfall for three months and there is no rain in the coming forecast for the next 10 days.  My fields are totally bare, trees are dying, I am feeding my horses hay in the fields which is unheard of for me this time of year when pastures are typically lush.  The fields look now like they should late February.  It's going to be a very long and hard winter for sure. Hay prices are skyrocketing.  I am afraid that my well might run dry if I use much water.

Luckily, I don't use a lot of water with 3-4 horses, no kids, I run the dishwasher maybe once a week, 1-2 loads of laundry a week.  But my use of water isn't really the issue.  The issue that has not been talked about much is how we Americans eat.  You can drive a Prius and ride a bike but until we all start paying attention to the immense energy consumption that it takes to create our food and the huge amount of water it takes to produce small amounts of our food, many parts of America will look like drought-ridden California and parts of Virginia.  We cannot sustain it on any level.

Here's something I pulled from Wikipedia about Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma:

He's talking about how we eat "organic"

Pollan finds that while a one-pound box of California-produced organic lettuce contains 80 food calories, it requires 4,600 calories of fossil fuel to process and ship to the East Coast. He adds that the figure would be only “about 4 percent higher if the salad were grown conventionally.” It’s hard to dispute Pollan’s assessment of large-scale organic agriculture: it’s “floating on a sinking sea of petroleum.”

Did you know that it takes 80 gallons of water to produce ONE POUND of hamburger meat?  If everyone who eats beef switched to chicken, it would be like taking 26 million cars off the road!

My point is that REAL environmentalists need to do more than walk and bike and just walk the talk.  We have to start paying attention to how we use our precious resources as well as our carbon footprint.  One day, maybe not in my lifetime, but in the not too distant future, wars will be fought over water.  How is California and the West going to survive without water?  Do you really think that just because you shop at Whole Foods and are eating "organic" that you are really making a difference when it comes to our environment?   I personally think not.  There is is whole lot more to this story.


  1. I think one of the keys here is to support local farmers whenever possible. The majority of America is unaware of just how far most grocery store food travels from farm to plate.

  2. Yes, please support local farmers. I love the growing industry of organic farms popping up across the country. We all need to support this business model AND the restaurants that buy their ingredients from these businesses. But be mindful of other areas where resources are used somewhat recklessly. I refer to creating lush green golf paradises in the middle of the desert such as those found in California and Arizona. No one ever talks about the extreme water use and the herbicides required to maintain all that greenery. The sustainable conversation needs to include all aspects of modern activity.


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