Thursday, December 10, 2009

Live and let die

I've never met her, and had never even heard of her before yesterday, but I'm currently hating an Irish politician named Mairead McGuinness.

For reference, here are the two stories where all my information is coming from, primarily the first link:
Beatles star Paul McCartney 'knocked out' by Louth MEP Mairead McGuinness

Carnivore versus crooner: Meat-eating MEP bites back at ex-Beatle

So here's the intro to the story: Vegetarian and now environmental crusader Paul McCartney was invited to the European Union parliament to give a presentation on why Meat Free Mondays should be promoted across the EU as a way to fight climate change. However, he ran into McGuinness, whose riding back home is full of meat and dairy farmers, who apparently shot down all his arguments (that's the way those two news stories tell it, I find it hard to believe that McCartney could really lose this argument however).

Here are some highlights of McGuinness's argument, and some of her key points:

- McGuinness dismissed McCartney's claims that reducing livestock and embracing vegetarianism would help to combat climate change. "Getting rid of livestock from the planet as a solution to climate change is too far-fetched and unrealistic a proposition to be credible," she said.

- "Research shows that a change in European diets with considerably less dairy and meat products would have only a marginal impact on the environment," she said.

- "Those who see vegetarianism as a better way of life or who are vegetarian because they do not want to eat animals should also not jump on the climate change bandwagon."

- McGuinness added: "Lastly, those of us who enjoy a roast on Sunday and who hope to continue to do so, would never even consider a meat free Monday.

- "We have the left-overs on Monday and in this era of 'waste not, want not', calling for a Meat Free Monday, as Sir Paul is doing, could be a call to waste food, something which none of us should be promoting."

Oh my God all that drives me crazy!! I find it hard to believe that she is so shockingly ignorant of all the good research linking climate change to meat production. I mean, she could look through my blog alone and find dozens of stories & articles on this topic. The most interesting one recently was the paper in the journal Climatic Change (Feb 4, 2009) which stated that a worldwide switch to vegetarianism (however unlikely) would be worth the equivalent of $20 trillion spent on other climate change prevention techniques.

No, she can't be that ignorant. She must be a politican with lots of meat farming and meat eating voters, and she must be more willing to appease her voters than she is to suck it up and acknowledge that meat farming is a massive environmental problem.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Food Inc is a must-see

If you've read Omnivore's Dilemma, and Fast Food Nation, and Way We Eat, and have been waiting for a film equivalent of these thoughtful and intelligent books, Food Inc is it.

Food Inc is investigative journalism. It's intelligent and made for adults, and while it does have some footage from the factory floor that isn't the point of this documentary. The point is to paint an overall picture of the North American food industry. And the food industry, you'll quickly learn, is completely engineered to protect the interests and profits of large corporations - NOT the health of North Americans.

Most of the food politics movies that are out come from the militant veggie side of life, and being very one-sided and blind in their rage these things are pretty off-putting, and useless to show to friends and family whose brains turn off after a few seconds of factory farm imagery. Food Inc draws you in with thoughtful explanations of why Tyson and Monsanto etc are afraid to let you see how food is really made, and why they have teams of lawyers and private investigators at their disposal to haul farmers into court if they don't follow company line. The approach in Food Inc is general and rational and thoughtful enough that your friends who don't really want to think about where their food comes from will give the movie a chance (where they wouldn't give a PETA video a chance).
After watching this movie, they will be very hard pressed not to make significant changes in their diet, because this movie is a life-changer.

Plus it ends with a live Bruce Springsteen track.
: )