How to Feed the World While Earth Cooks

How to Feed the World While Earth Cooks

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A conference on feeding the world must also feed itself. For the New America Foundation’s recent “Feeding the World While the Earth Cooks,” the restaurant seems like it was chosen specifically to highlight the inherent tensions. Nora describes itself on an awning as “certified organic, exciting, seasonal, elegant dining, innovative, enjoy, creative, memorable, fresh, healthy, tasty.” Nevertheless, steak retained its place on the menu, albeit locally sourced and “grass-finished.” 

It takes 8 kilograms of feed to make one kilogram of cow, 4 kilograms of feed for one kilogram of pork and two kilograms of feed for one kilogram of chicken. “The number one thing you can do if you care about climate change is cut down on meat consumption,” as Dawn Moncrief, executive director of meat reduction group A Well-Fed World, noted the following day. That is one thing the world is most definitely not doing. In fact, ethical conundrums abound when it comes to food. How to reconcile stewardship of the planet and the moral imperative to provide better food (and nutrition!) to the billions starving? How to reconcile a lifestyle founded on getting fat and a need to convince others not to widen their own girths? The central tenet of the discussion: this doesn’t have to be a conflict, technology can save us from having to choose, whether through genetically modified crops or lab grown meat. But the cow cells grown in culture still have to eat something as well as nourish. So how do we convince others to eat less meat while still enjoying a nice steak?

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