Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spelling it out

Being somewhat a linguaphile, I subscribe to a nifty little web offering called A Word A Day (AWAD), written by Anu Garg. Five days a week I receive a word, its definition, and its use in recent publication. The author always includes a quote from known and unknown thinkers from the past several centuries -- no specific word emphasis, but almost always thought-provoking.

There is a guest author this week who seems to be a vegan and encourager of food awareness. This was a recent entry:

factory farming (FAK-tuh-ree FAHR-ming) noun An industrialized system of producing meat, eggs, and milk in large-scale facilities where the animal is treated as a machine. [From the idea of operating a large-scale farm as an efficient factory.] Some of the characteristics of a factory farm include intensive crowding of animals, trimming of birds' beaks, cutting pigs' tails, force-feeding of ducks, injecting artificial growth hormones, restricting mobility, etc. A factory farm is also known as a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation).

"'When you look at environmental problems in the U.S.,' says [geophysicist Gidon] Eshel, 'nearly all of them have their source in food production and in particular meat production. And factory farming is 'optimal' only as long as degrading waterways is free." Mark Bittman; The Meat of the Matter; The Dallas Morning News; Feb 10, 2008.

I thought the above quote most interesting -- that nearly all of the environmental problems in the U.S. have their source in food production. The author emphasizes meat production, but the negative effects of herbicide and pesticide runoff, associated with large-scale vegetable and grain production, are well-documented. The polluting emissions generated from trucking food long distances are also implicated in our environmental crisis. And note the above quote is from a geophysicist; I think he might know a little bit about the state of the earth.

I've been told that the Ann Arbor Farmers Market is starting to bustle a bit. At least two growers are bringing fresh greens from their all-season hoophouses. Apples and cider are still abundant. Some stored root vegetables are also available. If you can't find them there, head on over to the nearby People's Food Coop where local, organic food has been a long-time cornerstone of their product-line philosophy.

We don't have to be part of the problem. In small everyday choices we can vote with our dollars, minds and bellies for a saner, cleaner, more compassionate environment for all -- animal, vegetable, mineral and human.

See you at the market! (We hope to be there mid-April with seedlings for your garden -- and that's one of the best ways to eat local!)
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Last but not least, the quote included with the AWAD entry follows:

There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare. -Sun
Tzu, general (6th century BCE)


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