Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Campus Ignorance About Agriculture

Op-Ed: Go vegetarian to save the Earth, feed the hungry
By Michael W. Gibson
September 24, 2009

Although more people go vegetarian every day, the world will be better still if more people take the plunge into a meat-free lifestyle. Support comes from successful arguments from the standpoints of ethics, world hunger, the environment, personal health and animal rights. The reasons for vegetarianism greatly outweigh the reasons against, so why aren’t more people making the switch?

The problem of world hunger is tragic and vast. A vegetarian diet does much to aid in solving this global catastrophe. As John Hill wrote in “The Case for Vegetarianism,” a child dies as a result of malnutrition every 2.3 seconds. A third of the world’s grain harvest and 70 percent of the U.S.’s grain is now being fed to cattle and other livestock while nearly a billion human beings go to bed malnourished. A quarter of the total surface land area of the planet and a third of the U.S. landmass is utilized for livestock grazing. This land could be put to better agricultural use to feed the world’s hungry. Up to 40,000 pounds of potatoes can be grown on an acre of land whereas the same area will yield only 250 pounds of beef. Read More

College newspapers have been busy filling space with pro-vegetarian, anti-agriculture article this fall. In everyone that I have read so far, they have mearly been the regurgitation of inaccurate information. None of them have done any type of research that didn’t involve Google. For instance, this student makes the claim that 40,000 lbs of potatoes could be grown on the same amount of land that can only produce 250 lbs of beef. His glaring ignorance is on display in that one comment alone. Most of the land that livestock graze on isn’t suitable for farming. Trying to farm grazing land would be impossible in many areas and an irresponsible use of the land in others. The other tired argument that people could eat the feed that is used for livestock use is a half truth at best. It’s unfortunate that so many students have been so willing to show their ignorance of the industry which they seek to abolish.


caheidelberger said...

So it sounds like you're totally in favor of free-range, grass-fed cattle. Me too. How do you respond, then to the absurdity of using good crop land to raise grain to fatten cattle when we could use that same land to grow food to feed people directly? How do you respond to the author's point that 70% of the U.S.'s grain could be used more efficiently to feed the world?

environmental politics said...

If only we could explain everyone that it is an ethical & political issue...

Dave Sjeklocha, DVM said...

To caheidelberger:
The absurdity of the author's comments and your question about 70% of the US's grain could be used to feed the world demonstrates the lack of understanding people have for agriculture. Let's just say this comment is correct (which it isn't). Why aren't we sending that grain to feed the world? A few years ago, when fuel was approaching $5.00/gallon, the price of those grains skyrocketed. This made grain farmers very happy. I got tired of hearing your argument (and the author's) about a year ago. So I walked in to my local grain elevator and asked if I could buy 1000 lbs of corn (something I have done many times in the past). The lady behind the counter said that I sure could, and simply asked if I wanted it bagged or in bulk. I said I would take it in bulk and she figured up how much I owed her for the corn. I asked her why she didn't want to know what I was going to use the corn for. She said that she didn't care, as long as I paid for it, I could do with it whatever I wanted. I asked if she would still sell it to me if I told her I was going to go feed some starving children with it. Again, she said as long as I paid for it, she didn't care. So, I went directly to a farmer friend of mine and asked him the same line of questions. Amazingly, the answers were eerily similar! So, please, if you want to feed corn to the starving, the opportunities are there for you. YOU just have to have a little less talk and a lot more action. No need to thank me, I am just happy to help you out. And the increased competition for the grain would certainly make the grain farmers happy.