Climate Change — What YOU can do

Cattle Feed Lot“Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.” From a December 2006 United Nations report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow”

Tom Philpott who writes about food and farming for Grist said, “To me, that fact calls for a massive realignment of the environmental movement toward food-system reform.”

Realignment of the environment movement? Food system reform? What are we talking about here? Many of us are switching to florescent light bulbs and considering buying a sub-compact hybrid for our next car, but changing what we eat and how we produce and buy it – that’s major.

And, many of us love cows, cowboys, ranching, and red meat. In the 1980’s Clara Pellers’ commercials for Wendy’s restaurants turned the phrase “Where’s the Beef” into household shorthand for questioning the value of just about anything. Although consumption of beef has dropped from a high of 89 pounds per capita in the 70s to approximately 65 pounds per capita today, we still eat a lot of beef — 5.5 pounds per month or more than a pound per week per person. And that beef is increasing produced with little or no regard for the environment as this wonderful little video, the Meatrix, demonstrates.

Should I stop eating beef? Is this the only option? Am I on my own to solve this?

The answers are no, no, and that’s up to you but no. Here are some actions you can take.
Buy Local Meat

  • Go to to locate farms near you. I typed in my zip code and found that there are eight family farms within 11 miles of my house that produce local meat, not organic, but local. I live in Vermont, where you might expect local farming, so I typed in my son’s zip code in a Washington DC suburb. This time I found only one farm — at 7.3 miles — but there are six restaurants and 18 stores and markets within 15 miles of his house that sell local meat and dairy products, and these are usually hormone and antibiotic free.
  • Organize a group to buy in bulk for your company or nonprofit, the local hospital, the community school, and each other. You will get to know your neighbors and community better and help the farmer by guaranteeing her/him your regular business.
  • Here are just some of the benefits to you and your community
    • No trucking
    • No feed lots
    • No pollution
    • Money stays in the community
    • Food is fresher and probably more nutritious
    • Your community is more self reliant and less affected by any disruptions to commercial production and transportation to the extent that it can produce its own food.

Eat less meat

  • Buy a vegetarian cookbook and try out a new recipe twice a month.
  • Organize a monthly or bi-weekly neighborhood potluck supper club to explore cooking vegetarian or recipes that use some meat, but don’t rely on it as the primary ingredient.
  • Get your group to sponsor a community meatless/less-meat cook off, using local ingredients, of course.
  • Publish the recipes.
  • Start a blog where people can share recipes and successes.
  • You may have some fun, you will provide an important service, and you could also have a healthier diet.

Tell others what you are doing

  • Become informed on the topic of local meat production and write a letter to the editor of your local paper
  • Build a network of those who share you concern. Organize a word-of-mouth campaign, an e-mail “viral” campaign, or a local media campaign to publicize the value to the community of eating local meat.
  • Please let us know here of any actions you take.
  • Post your suggestions and information here about similar projects that you know about or have had direct experience with.

Looking forward to hearing from you…

Related links:
There’s an amazing list of cow by-products published in a long series of, mostly, excellent comments to a Grist post about the UN report. also wrote about the report.