September 13, 2007

The Molto Seesaw and Less Meat Eating, Please

Several news outlets have been reporting that the Food Network and Mario Batali are parting ways. Well, they were saying that Mario had been sacked. Not so fast. According to the Well Fed Network, Mario and the Food Network are doin’ just fine.

One report that has been confirmed, however, is that the big MM has a new gig with PBS: A show about the food and cooking of Spain, with co-host, actress and apparent pork teetotaler, Gwyneth Paltrow. Gee, kind of like a modern Laurel & Hardy, eh?

On a more serious note, an international group of researchers has published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet arguing that humans, particularly those of us in developed countries, can reduce the rate of global warming simply by reducing amount of meat we eat.

Worldwide, agricultural activity, especially livestock production, accounts for about a fifth of total greenhouse-gas emissions, thus contributing to climate change and its adverse health consequences, including the threat to food yields in many regions.

They call for implementing an “international contraction and convergence” strategy under which the amount of meat eaten would be modestly reduced in all countries over the next several decades, with the majority of the reduction coming from a 50% cut in the amount of red meat from ruminants like cows, goats, and sheep (and “other digastric grazers,” aka, I guess, animals that are supposed to eat grass and have two stomachs).

And for those of you worried that limiting Americans to one Big Mac a week is too much to ask, these researchers have some reassuring words:

The resultant gains in health and environmental sustainability should help to offset any (initial) discomforts from restrictions on some popular foods and altered dietary customs. Replacing ruminant red meat with meat from monogastric animals or vegetarian-farmed fish would reduce methane production and lower the pressures on wild fisheries as sources of fishmeal for aquaculture.

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