Doubtful, especially given the amount of methane that dairy cattle produce.  But see here.

I’m watching the movie Food Inc. while writing this post.  The movie provides more examples of how America’s industrial food system is bad for both human health and environmental health.

Part of the movie discusses “Kevin’s Law,” H.R. 3160, a bill that never became law that would give the USDA greater authority to regulate the meat and poultry industry to help stop the spread of pathogens that result from CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations) and factory processing.

The Farm Bill also plays a role in impacting American’s diet by subsidizing the production of cheap commodity grain like corn.  This means that industrially produced food, fast food, and snack foods are often cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables.  If you’re interested in learning more, read the articles Corn, Carbon and Conservation: Rethinking U.S. Agricultural Policy in a Changing Global Environment by Florida Law Professor Mary Jane Angelo and Paying the Farm Bill: How One Statute Has Radically Degraded the Natural Environment and How a Newfound Emphasis on Sustainability is the Key to Reviving the Ecosystem by Bill Eubanks.

If academic articles are not to your taste, try reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

I’ve started reading “Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should be Good, Clean, and Fair” by Carlo Pertrini.  In the Forward by Alice Waters, she writes, “We soon discovered that the best-tasting food came from local farmers, ranchers, and foragers, and fisherman who were committed to should in sustainable practices.”

More most be done to promote a local organic food system.  I am working on an article now discussing how law both impedes and can help facilitate such a market.  Not only does local chem-free food taste better, but it limits the environmental costs of food consumption.

Food choices can contribute to the climate crisis, cause species loss, impair water and air quality, and accelerate land use degradation.   For example, an estimated 25 percent of the emissions produced by people in industrialized nations can be traced to the food they eat.   The causes of these environmental costs are many—the livestock industry, a processed and meat-heavy diet, agricultural practices like pesticides and fertilization, and fossil-fuel intensive food transportation, factory processing, packaging and large-scale distribution systems.  These are traits of the dominant industrial food model.

As many know, I am a big proponent of local food and local farming.  Here in Vermont, we’ve joined Wellspring Farm Community-Supported-Agriculture (CSA) Program.  When we lived in Milwaukee we were CSA members of Rare Earth Farm.

But local does not need to be rural.  Southeastern Wisconsin has two cool urban farms.  Check out these articles about Natural Green Farms built in an old industrial building in Racine and Growing Power in Milwaukee.

Urban Farm in Racine.

A five-story farm that Growing Power is considering building in Milwaukee.

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