Sustainability, Hunger and Consumerism: The Quinoa Debate

Quinoa

Recently in the media and blogosphere, debate has been raging over the negative impact Western demand for quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) has had on populations in countries where it is a staple food. Much of the blame has been dumped on vegans and vegetarians, for everything from malnutrition to soil erosion and property disputes. While many concerns raised are valid, and this isn’t an issue to be taken lightly, it seems to me as though we’re crying over a scratch while ignoring the bullethole. And fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction. Continue reading

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Vegetables for sustainability: making a plant-based diet work

Over the past week there has been a lot of media attention on the issue of the US drought, rising food prices, and the necessity for the general population to adopt a more vegetable-centric diet. Currently humans derive 20% of their protein from animal sources on average, but by 2050, this may need to drop to a maximum of 5%. Our planet simply will not be able to sustain the world population if meat is still consumed at such a high rate. It takes between five and ten times as much water to sustain the animals farmed for food as it would to grow crops enough to feed the same number of people. Similar figures apply to grains and vegetables grown to feed animals. Basically, if we eat the grains and vegetables directly, we require a lot less of them to sustain ourselves than if we were to feed them to animals and then eat the animals. And with an ever-increasing population, scientists are saying that this will be the only option. On one hand it makes me happy to know that factory farming will have to decrease, but on the other hand, I wonder if, for the many consumers staunchly determined to consume meat, a plant-based diet will ever become a reality.

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