The news for foodies hasn’t been good when it comes to climate change. In addition to the fact that extreme weather is hampering production of staples, like rice and other grains, and raising food prices globally, the list of luxury foods that are threatened by climate change keeps expanding. There’s lobsters, oysters (both now in prime season here in New England, by the way), wine, chocolate, coffee. As a colleague said to me earlier today, “Heather, you’re taking the fun out of everything.”
I can’t deny it. Having been forced to live without raw seafood, alcohol and caffeine for several months at a time thanks to a little thing called pregnancy, I can personally attest that life is a little bit less fun without these treats. Not depressing. Just not quite as joyous.
At least we’ve still got bacon … right? Well, maybe. I haven’t seen any reports saying climate change directly threatens pigs. And that’s good news, because I’d really hate to lose bacon. If this photo montage and the rate at which its flying around the web is any indication, I’m far from alone. Apparently bacon is something we Americans really treasure. My once-vegan brother has even confessed that bacon was the only thing he really missed during his decade or so of meatless life.
But here’s the bad news (I know, I can’t help myself): a lot of experts say we should probably be eating less bacon, or any meat, for that matter. The recommendation came most recently from an international team of scientists who, earlier this week, released a new report on the challenges of feeding 7+ billion human beings sustainably. But its far from a new idea.
The basic premise is that meat is an inefficient use of resources. According to the U.N., livestock currently use 30% of the Earth’s entire land mass and livestock farming accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. The food and energy that go into growing an animal for human consumption could, instead, be used to feed multiple people directly. After all, we eat corn and grains, too. And livestock pastures could be converted to growing even more vegetarian food for humans. If we’re serious about feeding the rapidly growing population of Planet Earth – and particularly if equitable distribution of resources is part of the equation – reducing the amount of meat we consume is an imminently logical strategy.