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Presidential debate part II: let's talk about food

Many terrific activists have weighed in on the first Presidential debate, all without mentioning food and the vital importance of shifting to a plant-based diet for our own health and the health of the planet.

A lead story in today's Huffington Post covers many environmentals' concern that President Obama isn't doing enough about global warming. Tom Zeller Jr. quotes the very-quotable Bill McKibben and others, but no one mentions how food and agricultural policy influence climate change. Surely everyone involved has had time to read the 2006 UN report that found:

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation....

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

Michael Moore, who usually does a great job focusing on the working class and poor, also didn't mention food in his tweets about the debate.

Amazingly, changing how we eat can help solve many huge problems in ways that work for either party. No matter why we do it, eating a low-fat, plant-based, organic diet will help slow global warming, reduce health-care costs, attracted business to our healthy and alert workers, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

  • If you favor small government and self-reliance, eat plants to avoid getting the diseases of affluence (cancer, heart disease, and diabetes) and save money to fund your own retirement. You'll have the strength to keep hauling up on your own bootstraps longer.
  • If you favor using government as a way to work together on big issues, then shift farm subsidies and government programs to favor eating plants to get rapid results on many urgent issues.

We should begin by eliminating confinement feed lots and other brutal factory farming techniques, as Bill McKibben does point out in The Only Way to Have a Cow. But rather than focusing on developing a "meat elite" who nosh on pastured animals, let's realize that meat and fish should be eaten only when plants aren't widely available now, as in desert Africa, or as a small part of a sustainable farm's cycle, with animals as weeders, workers, and homestead food recyclers.

Here's my earlier post suggesting a question for the presidential debate on global topics. What do you think?

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