"[F]or all our focus on the cost of moving food, transportation accounts for barely one-tenth of a food product's greenhouse gas emissions. Far more significant is how the food was produced—its so-called resource intensity. Certain foods, like meat and cheese, suck up so many resources regardless of where they're produced (a pound of conventional grain-fed beef requires nearly a gallon of fuel and 5,169 gallons of water) that you can shrink your footprint far more by changing what you eat, rather than where the food came from. According to a 2008 report from Carnegie Mellon University, going meat- and dairyless one day a week is more environmentally beneficial than eating locally every single day."
Roberts, Paul. "Spoiled: Organic and Local is So 2008." Mother Jones, March/April 2009.There is no simple resolution to query "what should I eat?" Every time I think I've come to a conclusion I can live with, I come across yet another study or anecdote that tells me I'm steering all wrong. That once-coveted "organic" label is now maligned by tales of the unsustainable global journeys our soybeans take to salmonella creeping its way into some of our most recognizable "health foods." Roberts' article takes a hypodermic needle to our local bubble. It's hard, real damn hard, to stay optimistic in this climate of defeat. So while the article quoted above doesn't give me much cause to dance barefoot in the street, it did offer some buoyancy in its message. I'm encouraged by other folks who report on gravitating towards a plant-based diet. Looking for inspiration, or to give society one last chance before taking refuge in a cave and subsiding on lichen and gall? Take Mark Bittman's "'vegan till 6'" plan, or Becky's Lenten vegan pledge, or this bloggah-from-down-undah's vegan test-drive.