Food fight: Gidon Eshel

Number cruncher Gidon Eshel says sustainable is not always sustainable – especially beef.

From the Series

Gidon Eshel is a physics professor at Bard College in New York who can mathematically argue for more vegetables than meat. Although Eshel now punches out the numbers regarding the environmental impact of USA diets in terms of energy, greenhouse gasses and resource consumption, he grew up on a dairy farm.

Is sustainable always sustainable?

Absolutely not. First, “local” almost always requires more greenhouse gas emissions, more land and often much heavier doses of agrochemicals. Second, grass-fed beef, which is sometimes sold to the uninitiated as more environmentally-sound than regular beef, requires between 10 and 100 times more resources (land, reactive nitrogen, water, greenhouse gas emissions) than such viable alternatives as pork, dairy or eggs. Beef in particular is environmentally offensive no matter what label you may put on it.

What’s right with mass production?

Its efficient use of finite resources.

Does in vitro meat have a soul?

No more than Michele Bachmann does.

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