August 18, 2008

Eat Less Beef II: Convenience

Yes, the ethanol-corn debate is boring. So grass makes better ethanol than corn. Yawn! We're saturated with this stuff. But read on for some eyebrow-raising numbers (maybe). Foreign Affairs, in an article updated in May 2008, pronounces:

In 2008, 30 percent of the U.S. corn crop will be used for ethanol.

Meanwhile the Nebraska Corn Board, on an undated page, says:

Livestock continues to be the corn grower’s most stable and important customer, consuming about 45 percent of U.S. corn.


More than 40 percent of the corn produced in Nebraska is fed to livestock somewhere in the U.S., and a high percentage of Nebraska’s corn exports to foreign countries is also used for livestock feed.

So more corn goes to feeding animals than ethanol. And if those numbers are right, ethanol and animal feed each consume more corn than human consumption.

Now that's really something that grass is better for: feeding animals, especially cows. But of course there are convenience and cost considerations. What an insidious word, and one so important to the "modern man": convenience! Yes, life is busy, but "convenience" is often a euphemism.

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Rob's picture

An excellent point regarding ethanol. Before fueling cars, let us also consider fueling people. Statistics tell us that a child starves to death somewhere in the world every four seconds. If people go vegetarian then food may be grown for people, not livestock. Going meat-free just one day a week might mean a significant descrease in the number of livestock raised and so in the amount of crops raised to feed them... so again those crops could go to humans. Choosing a compassionate diet can have benefits far beyond the lives of several farm animals each year; there are also us human animals that benefit.