Today, in celebration of Earth Day 2010, I spent the day in a forest with 125 third graders and many of their parents.
We cored trees to see how old they were, we tramped through the swamp, and we saw how human activities have an impact on our waters. We saw HUGE fish and small fish and some in between. We lounged in hammocks to see the forest from a different perspective, and sorted animal skins, called pelts, into categories based on their diet.
In a day and age when many believe that Earth Day has become commercialized and “too corporate,” I was actually able to spend the day in a long embrace with Mother Nature herself.
It was a spectacularly beautiful day!
I’ve known for a while now to recycle, to change my light bulbs to CFLs, to carpool, and to shut the water off when I brush my teeth. But I recently read a fact that both stunned and saddened me.
“Global livestock production is responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases—more than transportation.” [Source]
In his book Food Matters, Mark Bittman reports that “60 BILLION animals are raised each year for food—10 animals for every human on Earth.” This trend is also rapidly increasing as the demand for meat increases. Our planet can not sustain this kind of abuse. Think of all the chemicals, waste, and land that is used to maintain these farms!
The introduction of Factory Farming has impacted our climate as well as our health. There is a direct relationship between the amount of meat produced, and consumed, in the United States to the rise in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer rates.
In many countries considered to be “healthier” because their culture follows a more traditional diet (think Mediterranean, Asian, etc.), meat is treated as a side, not as the main course. What if every American ate just a little less meat and dairy?
Notice that I used bold, italics, and underlining in the phrase " a little less.” I’m not saying people should go vegetarian or vegan. That is a very personal decision.
I’m just wondering what the impact would be if we just ate a little less meat each week. Maybe have Meatless Mondays or Vegan Wednesdays?? Could we reverse and control the impact of livestock production on our environment? Could we improve the health crisis in American?
Links of Possible Interest:
Putting Meat Back in its Place– New York Times
Less Meat = Less Heat– CNN on YouTube
Lean Plate Club– Washington Post
Just a little food for thought!
I hope you were able to get out and celebrate today! 🙂