rabble.ca's Vegan Challenge 2012

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
rabble.ca's Vegan Challenge 2012

So, rabble.ca is asking its staff, contributors and readers to particpate in its the Vegan Challenge for Earth Week, April 16-23 2012. Here is the facebook group. babblers are welcome to participate as well.

We had a great discussion about this last year (parts 2 and 3) which has convinced me not to take place in the challenge this year. However, I would love to hear from babblers who are interested in participating or who are already vegan about their experiences, frustrations and expectations.

Of course, if anyone is interested in reopening or restating some of the arguments we've had already, that's welcome too.

Will any babblers be taking this up? I think the best part of the challenge is that it makes omnivores who consider themselves ethical who may have become complacent in their diets (e.g. me) to consider all the ingredients in every meal.

So: who's in, and who's out?

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
bagkitty bagkitty's picture

The department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Alberta) has an interesting site as part of their "Dine Alberta" project. Without purchasing foodstuffs that have crossed provincial or international borders I have year round access to:

Beef, pork, lamb/mutton, goat, poultry (and eggs), bison, elk, farmed fish (rainbow trout and tilapia), dairy products, honey, mustard, sugar (from beets), mushrooms, sunflower, canola, lentils and more varieties of grain than I need list here.

On a seasonal basis (and spring is NOT the season) tomatoes, corn, root vegetables and berries are also produced in quantities that allow for a semi-commerical market. Given the climatic conditions that are experienced here in southern Alberta (and taking into consideration altitude and precipitation patterns), conventional truck gardening is not generally considered commercially viable, it is more of a chancey "boutique" enterprise.

Also on a seasonal (although significantly more reliable) basis I do have access to a wider variety of produce from the south central interior of British Columbia that will be transported less than 1000km, but once again, early spring is NOT the season.

I am kind of left wondering why on earth such a challenge would be issued at this time of year? Does rabble.ca have a vested interest in some experiment dealing with nutritional deficiencies? *wink*

 

Freedom 55

[quote=Catchfire]

So: who's in, and who's out?

[/quote]

 

I've been in for about 6 years.

Michelle

I don't think there's anything wrong with taking part, but I do take issue with the uncritical claim, made both years, that going vegan is "one of the strongest ways most of us can contribute to Earth Week and make every day Earth Day".

This assumes that environmental destruction is the result of individual choices, kind of like the way some people assume that our individual consumer choices are somehow going to change the economic system as a whole - not shopping at Walmart will usher in the revolution.  Going vegan will save the earth.

I don't buy it.  But that doesn't mean that going vegan, or avoiding shopping at Walmart, aren't good things to do, and a good way of making the personal political.  I haven't darkened the door of a Walmart for years, and I did go vegan for about a year and a half, so I'm not against doing those things and bringing about political change in our personal lives. 

(By the way, I also appreciate that there are other thoughtful points of view from folks like Life, The Universe in the other threads where his choice to eat meat has been made after careful consideration of what would be most sustainable environmentally and food security-wise.  I've learned so much over the years about this subject from both him and Bookish Agrarian.)

But unfortunately, it's not individual choices that are going to save the world from environmental ruin.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I'm out, for reasons elaborated in [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/rabble-news-features/join-rabblecas-vegan-challe... year's thread[/url].

6079_Smith_W

I'm in in spirit. 

That is to say, I think it's a great idea, and in any given week we usually have a fair number of meals which are vegan, and we pay pretty close attention to what comes from where most of the time.

I will be having cream in my coffee, though

(edit)

and @ bagkitty

I hear you loud and clear (here in the province which grows 70% of the world's lentils, and India and Pakistan buy from us). I think the 100km diet is a great rule in moderation, but to apply it strictly is absolutely ridiculous. There is a workaround for a lot of those things if one has the time and the space - sprouting those pulses and grains, or using the potatoes which are still in storage from last fall - but the playing field is definitely different here than it is in other parts of the country.

 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

6079... oh I was using 1,000km, not 100km - if I tried the 100km thing I would have to survive on mammal flesh, probably fried in sunflower or canola. I might be able to get a few potatoes too. I couldn't even have corn on the cob, Taber is 200km away. Wink

6079_Smith_W

Hey, 1,000k would get you apples, wouldn't it? I know it gets us into zone 3 in southern Manitoba. I know the only coffee we would get is the dandelion root that people actually had to drink here not too many years ago. And as for greens, I think the pigweed, dandelion and lambs quarters are already sprouting. It would be kind of funny though,  to watch a whole city of 200,000 fighting over the little sprouts that are peeking out between the concrete.

 

Michelle

By the way, I'm kind of surprised that rabble did a repeat of this challenge this year.  Is this going to be an every yearly thing?  Why not choose different types of activism every year to celebrate Earth Week?

Some of the strongest defenders of the earth in Canada against industrial and systemic destruction are the indigenous peoples whose territories those of us from other areas of the earth are squatting on.  And most of those indigenous peoples have hunting and meat eating in their culture and traditional diet.

Do they get a special (unmentioned and unacknowledged) exemption from this challenge, or were they not thought of at all when coming up with this idea?  (Considering that this challenge is a direct rip-off of Oprah's exact same vegan challenge of a few years ago, I'm going to bet on the latter.)  Is this a cultural declaration of superiority over such peoples - that vegan culture is an environmentally superior way of life to indigenous culture? 

If not, then why would rabble choose a challenge that alienates and excludes some of the most solid and committed environmental activists in North America?

6079_Smith_W

@ Michelle

I have have no problem with it particularly because I see it as directed at our consumer society - the same society which has driven overconsumption of animal products, as well as sugar. and chemical additives. 

I don't see the fact that it is a vegan challenge as particularly important. I think any challenge which makes people think about what they put in their bodies, where it comes from, and at what cost, serves the purpose. 

That's why I said I support it in spirit. But I won't be observing it strictly in practice.

 

wage zombie

[quote=Michelle]

This assumes that environmental destruction is the result of individual choices, kind of like the way some people assume that our individual consumer choices are somehow going to change the economic system as a whole - not shopping at Walmart will usher in the revolution.  Going vegan will save the earth.

[/quote]

It also assumes that commercial factory farming of grains and vegetables is somehow better than factory farming of livestock.  From an environmental standpoint, any kind of factory farming is a problem.  The vegan dream is based on cheap oil.

rhapsody

[quote=Michelle]

Is this a cultural declaration of superiority over such peoples - that vegan culture is an environmentally superior way of life to indigenous culture?

[/quote]

I was going to introduce myself in the newbie forum and all that before jumping in and throwing punches, but this is just too great to leave alone.

The short answer is yes.  Vegan culture is better than non-vegan culture because it recognizes the moral personhood of non-human animals and as such that we are not entitled to use them as property.

It's far more than an environmental thing.  What gives us the right to cause all this harm and kill other sentient beings?

I understand your appeal to indigenous culture and its traditional exploitation of non-human animals, but we, as a species, have grown past it.  Just because you've been doing something for a long time doesn't make it any less morally wrong.

Progress is awesome.  :)

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[quote=rhapsody]

I understand your appeal to indigenous culture and its traditional exploitation of non-human animals, but we, as a species, have grown past it.  Just because you've been doing something for a long time doesn't make it any less morally wrong.[/quote]

So you're starting off on babble by passing a negative moral judgment on indigenous culture? Good luck with that.

Michelle

I get that argument, and when I was vegan, it was almost completely animal suffering that was my reason, not environmentalism, although I bought the environmentalist arguments.  So I understand where you're coming from. 

The truth is that we as a species have NOT grown past it - not even close to it.  A relative handful (in relation to the population of the planet) of people (usually non-indigenous) in western industrial countries have embraced veganism as a philosophy of not exploiting non-human animals, as an understandable reaction to our (settler) society's completely inhumane and detached relationship to food and food systems.

Once you've convinced the majority of settlers of your point of view, then it might be time to have discussions and debates, from a starting point of equal footing, with other cultures and traditions.  Until then, grand declarations about people who embrace vegan culture being superior activists from an environmental standpoint when colonized and oppressed indigenous meat-eating cultures are at the forefront of standing up to environmental destruction could be argued to be extremely oppressive and racist.  And it's no way for settler activists to forge links with indigenous counterparts.

rhapsody

[quote=M. Spector]

So you're starting off on babble by passing a negative moral judgment on indigenous culture? Good luck with that.

[/quote]

Psh, of course I wasn't doing that.

I was passing a negative moral judgement on anyone who doesn't reject the property status of animals.

Go big or go home.  Smile

rhapsody

[quote=Michelle]

I get that argument, and when I was vegan, it was almost completely animal suffering that was my reason, not environmentalism, although I bought the environmentalist arguments.  So I understand where you're coming from. 

The truth is that we as a species have NOT grown past it - not even close to it.  A relative handful (in relation to the population of the planet) of people (usually non-indigenous) in western industrial countries have embraced veganism as a philosophy of not exploiting non-human animals, as an understandable reaction to our (settler) society's completely inhumane and detached relationship to food and food systems.

Once you've convinced the majority of settlers of your point of view, then it might be time to have discussions and debates, from a starting point of equal footing, with other cultures and traditions.  Until then, grand declarations about people who embrace vegan culture being superior activists from an environmental standpoint when colonized and oppressed indigenous meat-eating cultures are at the forefront of standing up to environmental destruction could be argued to be extremely oppressive and racist.  And it's no way for settler activists to forge links with indigenous counterparts.

[/quote]

So suddenly the meat-rich Standard American Diet is the subsistence diet enjoyed by non-industrialized, non-western countries?

Veganism isn't difficult.  We aren't special in our ability to not kill things.  Our (settler) society's use of animals is just as not-cool as Olde Worlde use of animals and low-earth-orbit use of animals.

Hm.  Anyway, doesn't it seem a little bit condescending/patronizing to assume that the "colonized and oppressed indigenous meat-eating cultures", if presented with compelling arguments wouldn't be able to decide to move forward and leave animal exploitation behind?  We are absolutely in agreement though that oppression and racism are bad, just as speciesism is bad.

Tehanu

Lordie. I wondered to myself, self, is that pineapple still an issue? And what do I see but that it is being recycled, and not in a good way. No effort made to promote a more local or sustainable or container-free option:

[quote]For example, buy a cored pineapple, when you get home cut it into strips and then into chunks from that, put it back in the container it came in ...[/quote]

 

 

Sorry to be swooping in to be critical, but that's what triggered me to [url=http://rabble.ca/comment/1233023]post last year[/url] about the very same thing! So let's do a little more recycling, in the spirit of the thing:

[quote]Hi babble! ((waves)). I can't resist a good discussion on food issues. Smile

The vegan challenge combines this statement:

[quote]Going vegan is one of the strongest ways most of us can contribute to Earth Week[/quote]

... with this one:

[quote]For example, buy a cored pineapple, when you get home cut it into strips and then into chunks from that, put it back in the container it came in ... [/quote]

... which I'm afraid illustrates the problems inherent in not taking a broader view of food politics and environmental impact. A pineapple would likely be grown in an environmentally destructive fashion; at the very least, it's worth noting that pineapple plantations have been the cause of a great deal of rainforest destruction and displacement of indigenous people ... and then there are pesticide/fertilizer issues, and poor labour practices. Caveat emptor on any tropical fruit, for those reasons. As well as transportation. A pineapple needs to travel thousands of kilometres to reach Canada. Note, too, that the recommended purchase is an already-cored pineapple (requires refrigeration) in a container (almost certainly disposable plastic). The environmental problems pile up.

Food production, including animal-derived food, is certainly an environmental concern. And North Americans consume a highly unsustainable amount of animal products, no question.

But food production is a complex issue with many different facets, as some excellent posts on the previous thread pointed out. This vegan challenge strikes me as the sort of well-meaning initiative like Earth Hour or the plastic bag tax, which ideally encourages environmental behaviour change, but in the absence of education and critical analysis can result in a complacent feeling of "okay, yay, now I've done my bit!"

Item: I loooooove seeing people in grocery stores religiously toting in their canvas bags, only to fill them with processed food that is triply-packaged in plastic, cardboard and plastic wrap. Quite the discontinuity, no? Sort of like the one above.

As an alternative/as well as doing the vegan challenge, people might consider some or all of the following:

- Now that we're in a federal election, asking your candidates if elected what actions they will take to make food production and distribution more sustainable. Raise it as a political issue and it becomes a political issue.

- Lobbying federal and provincial agriculture ministries to support local organic food production, including providing transition funding (the minimum three years of transition prior to organic certification can be a real financial deterrent for farmers).

- Lobbying grocery chains to label foods based on distance travelled - "Product of USA" could be 100 kms or 3000 kms.

- Asking your own grocery stores to source local and organic food. I know someone who did that for eggs, the store got them in, they were always sold out!

- Lobbying food manufacturers and federal regulators to mandate a carbon footprint calculation on processed food labels.

- Lobbying governments to cease and desist from promoting food-derived biofuels. That's just obscene on so many levels.

- Joining a CSA or other local farming support group.

- Learning more about food politics. Someone mentioned Michael Pollan, his books are a good place to start.

- Growing our own food if we can. Eating as locally as we can. Eating as seasonally as we can.

- If you're eating out, supporting restaurants that source local and sustainably produced food. Chefs that have been doing so are trailblazers and generate fabulous publicity.

- If you're buying imported food, including produce, trying to find out if it's sustainably produced using fair labour practices. If it's hard to find out, contact the grocer, importer, and production company, and say so.

- Avoiding processed food as much as you can, no matter what it's made of (organic chocolate chip cookies have almost the same enviro ding as regular ones).

- Eschewing bottled water and other drinks that require bottling/packaging/transportation.

- Educating ourselves and others about other food issues ranging from farming practices to seafood. Supporting initiatives that promote production and labelling of sustainable food.

- Supporting NGOs that are working on these issues.

- And yeah, being moderate in our meat consumption and selective about its source. Sustainably produced meat is more expensive (and harder to find) but budgeting for less meat makes it more affordable.

And so on. There's lots more. Any or all of these can help, but the political work probably gives you more bang for your buck than making an individual eating choice for a week. Spend a week doing some of the above lobbying work and then I think some pats on the back are in order![/quote]

Hugs and kisses, T.

Freedom 55

Generally speaking, I think it's fair to encourage people to think about their relationship with their food and the environment. But I don't think it's fair to expect that everyone is going to come to the same conclusions.

Slumberjack

Hi Tehanu.  Great points.

6079_Smith_W

I do think meat is a particular problem, not because of animal rights, nor because veggie production can't be poisonous and wasteful. 

I am aware that during the wintertime a head of lettuce has the same carbon footprint as a hamburger.

I think it is important because so much of our diet is dominated by animal products, and industrial meat production is one of the worst aspects of our food system. It has warped the industry by diverting a large part of our produce to animal feed, a large part of our land to keeping animals, to the point that wildlife is killed if they get in the way. The factory approach has also damaged small-scale farm culture. It introduces poisons, disease, and toxins - through antibiotics, feeding dead animals to dead animals, and also the damage to ground water by waste from factory farming. 

Of course it is not the only problem, but I think getting bogged down in judgment and superiority games is just counterproductive. I think it is a good exercise because hopefully it will make some people think, even though I have no intention of stopping eating meat, eggs or milk products myself.

Besides, I have some canned free-range chicken broth from down in the celler that needs to get used.

(edit)

As well, I think trying out a radically different way of eating is also a good idea just to see how it feels, and to break out of old habits.

 

Life, the unive...

Goddess, not this again.  Did rabble not figure out last year that they aren't correct in their assertion.  The total ignorance of the general issue around the politics and impacts of food in the statement makes me give up hope of this organization ever getting it.  This is a statement of fundamentalist-like belief, it is not a statement of fact in any way.  If rabble wanted to do something around food they could have learned something from last year and done something to promote connections between urban rabblers and farming rabblers- including livestock farmers.  This is the great disconect for many people as they don't know a farmer.  This could have been a real opportunity for real education and information, instead rabble continues to propegate a complete myth by saying going vegan is one of the best ways to help the environment.  It is also a myth to say that much of our agricultural production is for livestock feed.  If you take a global perspective this is simply not accurate.  

ETA   I used the word myth, but you know what it is actually a complete lie.  

6079_Smith_W

[quote=Life, the universe, everything]

 It is also a myth to say that much of our agricultural production is for livestock feed.  If you take a global perspective this is simply not accurate.  

[/quote]

I don't think the rest of the world is the real threat; it is the out-of-balance North American food system (and its effect on the rest of the world) that I am concerned about. And that includes the overgrowing of corn, which is tied into the industrial meat production system.

LTE, if you don't want to take part, fine. And if you, like me, see that having everyone adopt a vegan lifestyle is not actually the best thing for the world, good. I am glad that people have stepped forward, just like last year, to point out some of the different and equally relevant perspectives on this. 

That doesn't take away from the fact that it is still a good exercise. 

6079_Smith_W

On the subject of Veganism, perhaps I can recommend the new edition of Joseph Forest and Visanto Melina's book Cooking Vegetarian. 

http://josephforest.com/cooking-vegetarian/

Forest spoke here in Saskatoon a few months ago; One of the most interesting aspects of his talk was not the nutritional value of foods, but their value as medicines, and the idea of exploring what you eat as a way of finding what works best for your body.

http://josephforest.com/cooking-vegetarian/

As well, a large part of the talk concerned which oils he uses as part of his cooking and his diet.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Corn:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2011/10/07/the-u-s-now-us...

Soy:

http://www.soyatech.com/soy_facts.htm

Antibiotics:

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/impacts_i...

(it's buried, but non-therapeutic use for livestock accounts for 70% of all antibiotic use in the United States (2001)

Water, Land, Waste:

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm  

 

Michelle

LTU, I was waiting for you to join in - thanks for your perspective.

Regarding corn - we have been noticing lately when grocery shopping that it's near impossible to find corn tortillas.  We're wondering whether maybe that's because there is so much focus with putting corn into our gas tanks instead of on the table.

It sure isn't doing Mexicans any favours.

Life, the unive...

[quote=6079_Smith_W]

Corn:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2011/10/07/the-u-s-now-us...

Soy:

http://www.soyatech.com/soy_facts.htm

Antibiotics:

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/impacts_i...

(it's buried, but non-therapeutic use for livestock accounts for 70% of all antibiotic use in the United States (2001)

Water, Land, Waste:

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm  

 

[/quote]

So the soy people are promoting soy.  Big surprise.  Soya beans are a major component of most vegan and vegertarian diets.  Soya beans production is a major cause of deforestation in places like Brazil.  Soya beans for curd, veggie burgers and so on are grown with massive amounts of hebricides and pesticides and mono-cropping causing massive soil degration and major environmental and local population health problems in many of the places soya beans are grown.  In Brazil there are reports of modern day slavery to process and harvest soya beans.  As a former vegetarian, I lived in India for 3 years in my younger days, it is almost impossible to have a vegan or vegetarian diet (and be healthy) without beans, lentils or other legumes.  All of these are grown industrially and are not avalible at the time this exercise is being promoted locally, at least not fresh.  So the exercise is really promoting, whether intentional or not, the industrial food system.  That is a problem for a progressive organization.

And as if the corn folks are going to say- uhm we grow the corn, the corn gets processed into almost every food you eat in our modern food system and then the processors sell it to the industrial scale feed lots as this gooey gross mass causing the animals to require to recieve massive amounts of anti-biotics just to survive long enough to get slaughtered.  If you eat corn anything, whether it is corn fed beef, Coke, or nachos, corn meal biscuits or many, many other foods you are part of the industrial food system whether you passed over the beef or not.

As I said last year the problem is not meat vs other food stuffs.  The problem is the current global industrial food system.  Full stop.  The pretence it is all about meat production is simply picking your poison to be concerned about, not determining what the poison actually is.  

Life, the unive...

[quote=Michelle]

LTU, I was waiting for you to join in - thanks for your perspective.

Regarding corn - we have been noticing lately when grocery shopping that it's near impossible to find corn tortillas.  We're wondering whether maybe that's because there is so much focus with putting corn into our gas tanks instead of on the table.

It sure isn't doing Mexicans any favours.

[/quote]

I haven't noticed that, but I shop at a few local organic/specialty stores and an organic buying co-op so I am probably insulated from that sort of things.  Corn is probably to expensive now to use for tortillas when other grains are going cheaper.  Probably has some link to ethanol, but also it is how much other stuff corn is used for these days.   But yes ethanol is not nearly so green as some want to believe.  (by the way the organization I was promoting last year (the NFU) was the first and to my knowledge only farm organization to question ethanol subsidies.)  

Corn prices are really high.  And here's how that reflects right here at home.  Land is now so expensive and there is so much urban and foriegn investment money backing some of the biggest players that local small, medium and even largish farm operations can't afford access to the land.  It is getting very troubling.  I know of a 200 acre farm near me that went for close to a million dollars.   Just for the land.  Who can afford that.? Those guys aren't making their money on growing food, you could never make that back.  It is all about investment money returns.  I'm glad I am approaching the end of my farming career and not near the begining or in the middle.  We are heading to a huge crisis in food production.  That's part of why I feel so strongly about this exercise.   As a progressive organization rabble could be doing something to educate people, instead they are indulging in mythology and missing the forest for all the trees.

When a positive guy like my near neighbour Bookish Agrarian, who I think you know personally if I have my babble family tree right, is openly talking about whether or not they can keep going as he was at a local NFU meeting because they can't afford land and had to even give up rented land because it became so expensive, I know we are in deep do-do.   

6079_Smith_W

[quote=Life, the universe, everything]As I said last year the problem is not meat vs other food stuffs.  The problem is the current global industrial food system.  Full stop.  The pretence it is all about meat production is simply picking your poison to be concerned about, not determining what the poison actually is.  

[/quote]

You know, LTE, if you read what I wrote you might have noticed  that I was making pretty much the same argument. And I did not make the argument  about it being meat OR veggies.  Yes, all kinds of industrial agriculture are an attack on all sustainable food systems.

But the North American meat and dairy industry is a pretty damned big part of it, and it is one of the worst parts.

 

Life, the unive...

I did read it and you are clearly trying to suggest something that is just not true and you keep trying to suggest that I have no right to point out that rabble is promoting something that is not progressive.  And I don't get why you keep saying the same thing over and over.  Neither last year or this have I suggested that industrial scale meat production is not an issue.  Yet you keep refuting this point I am not making.  What I have said and will continue to say is that rabble is not being progressive at all in promoting something that is simply not true and that being that a vegan diet is better for the environment than a non-vegan diet.  The issue is sustainable vs industrial.  Yet this is not what rabble is going at, in fact they are promoting the industrial system in some of their language.  I think is appropriate to call rabble on the lack of progressiveness on this.  I have been involved in food issues for a very, very long time.  I think I have as much right as you on an open forum to express an opinion, even if it seems to upset you for some reason.

6079_Smith_W

You haven't upset me at all LTE, and I have not said that you have no right to express your opinion.  Perhaps you should go back and read the second paragraph of my post #21.

Quite the contrary. I think from my very first post here I have taken the position an exercise like the Vegan Challenge does not tell the whole story.

But the statement that it is an absolutely better alternative notwithstanding (because I don't agree with that) I believe it is a very good exercise for a number of reasons, which I probably don't need to repeat.

Can we stand down on this please? Because aside from our disagreement about Rabble supporting the challenge I think our positions on the issue are actually fairly complementary.

 

 

Jacob Two-Two

I don't think it's your opinion as much as the way you express it, LTU. A little diplomacy goes a long way. A lack of same goes nowhere.

Bacchus

And lets remember going vegan means no wine or beer. Since they use animal parts as filters(there are very very very few who do not and almost none of them for beer)

6079_Smith_W

[quote=Bacchus]

And lets remember going vegan means no wine or beer. Since they use animal parts as filters(there are very very very few who do not and almost none of them for beer)

[/quote]

If you make it at home you don't have to use the isinglas. 

I assumed that beers made according to the Reinheitsgebot would be okay, but apparently that is not the case. 

Here's a list:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/geraint.bevan/Vegetarian_beers.html

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I would like to say that last year's vegan challenge thread was one of the most memorable and educational threads on babble, and I'm grateful for all the perspectives from that thread and this one. Thanks for all the thoughtful contributions.

Michelle

Did any of the rest of the staff read those contributions?  If so, I wonder why they still issued exactly the same challenge, with exactly the same wording, this year for Earth Week?  Did they not think that any of the points raised last year had any value, or enough value to at least tweak the challenge a bit?

Jacob Two-Two

I'm interested in hearing why you gave up being vegan, Michelle. Are you eating meat now?

I agree that recycling this challenge seems odd. Probably just laziness on their part, but a local food challenge would be more environmental and promote much more awareness about where your food is coming from and how it's made. And if you really want to get environmental, give people a no-gas challenge. At the library we have a bike-to-work-week every year. People sign up and log their hours riding and compete with other municipal workplaces.

Slumberjack

[quote=Michelle] Did any of the rest of the staff read those contributions? [/quote]

You're not on staff anymore?

Slumberjack

Everyone should be granted a five acre plot of land, a few laying hens, and a team of oxen.

Caissa

I'm out; it's a gimmick.

Slumberjack

Yeah, pretty much.

Life, the unive...

See this is where the wrong-headedness begins. Corn is not over-grown for livestock production.  What the huge volumes of corn are used for is, well just about freaking everything.  You would be amazed to learn how much corn products you are eating on a daily basis, whether or not meat passes your lips.  What is often fed in the largest feed lots, is in fact corn by-products once the whatever element they processors have taken out is used up.  Smaller farms feed corn straight up, but most of the large producers use those by-products because it is cheaper and they often buy rather than grow their own feed.  There was a large operation in Ontario that was feeding reject tortillas and the left over meal not that long ago and that is repeated in many of those kinds of operations.

And no it is not a good exercise.  It is based on a lie, that can't be substanated.  There are plenty of good exercises that could be promoted to learn about food and environmental issues (along with a bunch of others).  Providing a totally false premise is not that way.  You can claim over and over that 2 plus 2 equals 5.  That doesn't make it good practices for your math test though. 

It is clear to me from last year and this that rabblites have a great deal to learn about our food system and sustainability within it, but this kind of thing doesn't help, it makes that ignorance worse.

Life, the unive...

[quote=Jacob Two-Two]

I don't think it's your opinion as much as the way you express it, LTU. A little diplomacy goes a long way. A lack of same goes nowhere.

[/quote]

 

Once could just have been ignorance by rabble.  But twice, with the same language and false claims, that's something else.  Since rabble could be doing something positive and is willfully choosing not to do so then yes I think a little bluntness is in order.  I have been deeply involved in these issues for something like, well most of my 60 plus years actually, and when I see a progressive organization actually promoting an industrial food system that abuses workers, destroys the environment and causes untold health problems I find that a little frustrating, and make no mistake that is exactly what they are doing in the way the challenge is written.  Again once could just be ignorance and not understanding the nuances, although I find that stunning for an organization like rabble, but twice....?

6079_Smith_W

[quote=Slumberjack]

Everyone should be granted a five acre plot of land, a few laying hens, and a team of oxen.

[/quote]

I don't see an exact copy of a 140-year-old model working quite so well, but I do agree with you., Supporting local economies and promoting urban agriculture (like allowing chickens in more cities) IS a good idea. A large vacant plot on the edge of downtown here was turned into potatoes  for the food bank last year, and I think until someone developes the site they are going to do the same this year. 

There is also a business here which rents out urban yards for commercial gardening, and groups dedicated to harvesting fruit trees is also a good idea 

Life, the unive...

Just so you have a comparison, the food system has gotten so screwed up that not only is there a move to make sure there are not urban chickens, there is now a move to stop rural folks from having them if they don't have quota for fear of cross-contamination from wild birds.  Apparently if you let your birds outside and interact with the natural world you are just a hop, skip and a jump from causing world wide destruction to the poultry industry.  That is how divorced from reality the food system has become

Slumberjack

[quote=Life, the universe, everything] That is how divorced from reality the food system has become. [/quote]

The corporate food system is the reality.

6079_Smith_W

@ LTE

Yes, from a different angle, I have seen the same thing - like an entire healthy orchard ripped out of the ground simply so they could plant new apples that conformed to European Union standard. The same thing happened to poultry, swine, everything in the former east, where before the wall came down there was actually far greater genetic diversity. 

And SJ. It is the dominant  reality that some want, to be sure. But it is not the only reality.

 

 

Life, the unive...

When we started out in small scale, grazed pork years ago you could get many, many different breeds.  Now it is very hard to stay with some of the 'old' breeds.  Same thing in poultry.  Even many of the larger organic operations work exclusively on White Rocks, a breed engineered to grow big fast, with over sized breats.  That has led to a great many health problem in that breed, but in commercial barns the death offset seems acceptable in a way it wouldn't for smaller producers.  By the way I am only allowed to raise 300 birds, can't advertize beyond the farm gate and still have to conform to the chicken cops 'request' to inspect me at their whim.

Those trees being ripped out also has to do with importing large volumes of product from places like China.  When you lose the only Canadian processor your trees end up having little value.

Life, the unive...

[quote=Slumberjack]

[quote=Life, the universe, everything] That is how divorced from reality the food system has become. [/quote]

The corporate food system is the reality.

[/quote]

I was referring to the reality of nature, and healthy and life sustaining soil.  Not the economic reality.  That I know all too well having to stare it in the face almost every day.

6079_Smith_W

@ LTE

When I worked east of Winnipeg one of the big disputes was over plans for an industrial hog operation right where suburbia was expanding  - talk about people running into the reality of what is on their plate. Everyone wanted bacon for breakfast. No one wanted to smell where it came from. Ironically, this was all happening after the meat packing industry in that city was reduced to a shell of itself; I presume a lot of the cattle and hogs went south (this was before the BSE shutdown).

I don't know what the laws around it are here in SK, but we get our poultry through a co-op arrangement with a farmer who delivers throughout the province. Beef, pork, and fish are available from the pruducers at the farmers' market.

I guess at the moment they are too busy trying to take over the grain industry.

 

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

[quote=Michelle]Did any of the rest of the staff read those contributions?  If so, I wonder why they still issued exactly the same challenge, with exactly the same wording, this year for Earth Week?  Did they not think that any of the points raised last year had any value, or enough value to at least tweak the challenge a bit?[/quote]

Well, the short answer is yes, some staff read the challenges and found them persuasive. Part of it is also my fault since I missed the editorial meeting when this challenge was decided upon and so I wasn't able to contribute and remind editorial on babble's response and opinion. Those who were in attendance decided on what form our Earth Week features would take.

I should also point out, as many of you know, that a lot of the site, particularly the "extracurricular" aspects, is run by volunteers. So if a volunteer blogger who is a vegan, environmentalist and animal rights activist volunteers to run this challenge, that's often how it gets run. I'm sure the fact that it has inicited this discussion (again) is also considered a benefit. I would have liked to see some changes too, but I missed the meeting and so missed my opportunity. Next year I'll line up, believe me.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[quote=Michelle]

Did any of the rest of the staff read those contributions?  If so, I wonder why they still issued exactly the same challenge, with exactly the same wording, this year for Earth Week?[/quote]

Not only that, but they kept the same hotlinks and didn't even check to see if they were still working a year later. Some of them aren't.

And they are promoting vegan events that took place in 2011, but are not taking place again this year!

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