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Climate Change: Itís Whatís for Dinner

Climate Change: Itís Whatís for Dinner

We all know that driving a gas-guzzling SUV contributes to climate change, but did you know that what you put on your plate could too? Hereís how your food choices affect climate change and what you, as a consumer, can do about it. The United Nationís Food and Agriculture Organization recently estimated that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is more than the emissions caused by cars and light trucks combined!

Here in the United States, 6 percent of our greenhouse gases come from livestock production, compared with 19 percent from transportation. While those statistics might not be as severe as the global numbers, they are still worth noting for the conscious consumer.

How Does Livestock Cause Climate Change?
First, there is the manure, which releases methane. That is particularly true when it is stored in anaerobic conditions such as the waste lagoons often found at U.S. factory farms for pigs and dairy cattle or the huge manure piles connected to American cattle feedlots.

But methane released from livestock and manure is not the only cause of climate change, according to the United Nations report. Deforestationóthe massive clearing of forestsóalso plays a big part. More than 70 percent of the Amazon rainforestís deforested land is used for pasture, and a substantial part of the remaining land is used to produce crops fed to animals. In the United States, 60 percent of the agricultural output of the Missouri-Mississippi basin is used to feed livestock because land once farmed for local human consumption is now used for industrialized feed production.

Twenty percent of all fossil fuel used in the United States goes toward food production including running slaughterhouses and meet processing plants, fertilizer production, water usage to raise cattle as well as the post-agricultural processes of transporting, packaging, and storing food.

Are All Animals Polluters?
Some studies estimate that feedlot beef (from cattle that are confined in pens and fed corn to fatten them up) require twice as much fossil fuel energy to produce as grass-fed beef (from cattle that spend their lives on pasture eating grass). Producing a single pound of feedlot beef results in the production of 8 pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of a third of a gallon of gasoline.

It also matters where the animals are from. A rough estimate predicts that 120 million tons of C02 emissions are directly attributable to domestic food transport each year, and U.S. imports and exports likely account for an additional 120 million tons. International imports and exports are particularly ecologically damaging because air miles emit more C02 per ton-mile than any other form of transport.

Combat Climate Change with Your Fork!
1. Buy smart. Purchase food that is produced on small, local farms rather than large industrial operations, and choose organic grass-fed beef over conventional grain-fed beef.

2. Be in the know. Sign up at Food & Water Watch to stay plugged into food issues that affect your dinner and your planet.

Food & Water Watch is an organization dedicated to the belief that the public should be able to count on our government to oversee and protect the quality and safety of food and water. For more information, go to

Read more: Food, Basics, Eating for Health, , , , , , , , , , ,

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6:01PM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

Thanks for the article.

9:09PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

I think legalizing MJuana would also help developing uses for this remarkable plant.

12:33PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

We have to change our way of living for our children/ many people just don't seem to care what happenes to our earth...sad.

2:46PM PST on Feb 3, 2011

Interesting thanks for sharing!

8:22PM PDT on Apr 29, 2010

Hemp Nutrition
[show]Typical nutritional analysis of hemp nut (hulled hemp seeds)[19]
Calories/100 g 567
Protein 30.6
Carbohydrate 10.9
Dietary fiber 6
Fat 47.2
Saturated fat 5.2
Palmitic 16:0 3.4
Stearic 18:0 1.5
Monounsaturated fat 5.8
Oleic 18:1 (Omega-9) 5.8
Polyunsaturated fat 36.2
Linoleic 18:2 (Omega-6) 27.6
Linolenic 18:3 (Omega-3) 8.7
Linolenic 18:3 (Omega-6) 0.8
Cholesterol 0 mg
Moisture 5
Ash 6.6
Vitamin A (B-Carotene) 4 IU
Thiamine (Vit B1) 1 mg
Riboflavin (Vit B2) 1 mg
Vitamin B6 0 mg
Niacin (Vit B3) 0 mg
Vitamin C 1.0 mg
Vitamin D 0 IU
Vitamin E 9 IU
Sodium 9 mg
Calcium 74 mg
Iron 4.7 mg

About 30–35% of the weight of hempseed is hempseed oil or hemp oil, an edible oil that contains about 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs); i.e., linoleic acid, omega-6 (LA, 55%), alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 (ALA, 22%), in addition to gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). Whole hempseed also contains about 25% of a highly-digestible protein, where 1/3 is edestin and 2/3 are albumins. Its amino acid profile is close to "complete" when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy.[20] The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs. Unlike flaxseed oil, hemp oil can be used continuously without developing a deficiency or other

8:22PM PDT on Apr 29, 2010

Hemp as food source
Hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life.[15] The seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into hemp milk (akin to soy milk), prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be eaten in salads. Products range from cereals to frozen waffles, hemp tofu to nut butters. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized by law), hulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp flour, hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some organic cereals, for non-dairy milk[16] somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, and for non-dairy hemp "ice cream."[17]

Within the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has treated hemp as purely a non-food crop. Seed appears on the UK market as a legal food product, and cultivation licences are available for this purpose. In North America, hemp seed food products are sold, typically in health food stores or through mail order. The USDA estimates that "the market potential for hemp seed as a food ingredient is unknown. However, it probably will remain a small market, like those for sesame and poppy seeds."

8:21PM PDT on Apr 29, 2010

Hemp - The Short Term Solution for climate change

Image Hemp can be used as a short term solution to the climate change challenge, simultaneously increasing soil carbon, locking carbon into raw materials and replacing unsustainable raw materials across several industries. It is an adaptable, hardy, multi-purpose crop that can play an important role in reducing and repairing human environmental damage.

Hemp is far less vulnerable to changes in climate compared to slow to medium growth forests and still has the most useful biochemical characteristics of hardwood. In addition, hemp is a very versatile crop, not just in terms of use value, but also in terms of how it can be managed by farmers. Growing hemp on deforested hillsides prevent landslides, run-off and also prepares land for future crops or reforestation. Large scale tree planting is not feasible without providing an immediate and sustainable alternative to forest resources used by the majority of the worlds population for cooking heating and raw materials. Hemp produces several metric tons of versatile biomass per hectare annually or bi-annually in hotter climates, potentially protecting old growth forests.

CO2, which represents 50 per cent of greenhouse gases (GHGs), according to the IPCC, is converted along with other chemicals (or assimilates) into food by plants, depending on biomass production. The resulting growth and storage of carbon is identified in terms of biomass. Mature forests, such as those

7:53PM PST on Dec 28, 2009

In many cases food grown further away is less energy intensive. Just stick a $5 a gallon tax on gas and we will use less energy.
Simple, the Govt may (just May) use it for something good, Cap and trade just goes into the bad guys pockets.

9:04AM PST on Jan 8, 2009

Being a vegetarian is not the only solution. You also have to make sure that the vegetables or fruit you are buying don't come from a far away country .If you don't ,you'll contribute to polluting the planet since all these veggies are imported by plane!

7:35PM PST on Jan 7, 2009

If those of us with the priviledge of choice don't start modeling a MUCH bigger shift AWAY from animal products, the planet is in serious trouble. China and India can't wait to catch up with the indulgent, meat-centred diet of most westerners. Go VEGAN for the environment, your own health, and not least of all for an end to the mass suffering of the billions of animals that continue to be treated like mere commodities. Check out to learn about the trend towards veganic agriculture that has been growing in the UK and is now beginning to blossom here in North America. Stock-free farming is the way of the future...if we want one!

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