Sunday, March 27, 2011

Planet on a Plate

Q15: Is it possible to meet present global demand for animal products humanely and sustainably? If so, how? If not, what should we do?

0-5min: NEWS
-- Vegetarian Debate

First, each team will take turns summarizing their paper in 5 minutes. Next, there will be 20 minutes of open debate. Finally, you will have 20 minutes to record and analyze the results of the debate. The last 20 minutes of class we will all reflect on the debate and animal unit.

You are not arguing for or against vegetarianism per say, so much as arguing *as* the author of your paper. Don't make arguments that s/he wouldn't. Each team is required to make an outline of their reading (i.e. a one-sentence thesis and a paragraph summary). Your guilds will be assessed on a) your knowledge of and loyalty to the readings, b) the clarity and conciseness of your presentation, c) the strengths of your defenses, and d) the generosity and thoughtfulness of your responses

--power point

Over the last 50 years, the method of producing food animals in the United States has changed…[and] has come at a cost to the environment and a negative impact on public health, rural communities, and the health and well-being of the animals themselves.
--Pew Commission (2008)
CAFOs (i.e. “factory farms”)
  • Replaces small, sustainable farms
  • Contracted into massive debt
  • Lung disease & Nausea from smell
  • Toxic contamination of ground water
  • Decreased property values
  • Human rights violations
  • Exploitation of migrant laborers
  • Among the most dangerous jobs in USA
  • High turn over rates
  • Destruction of community
  • Increased violence within communities
Other Health Concerns
  • Livestock compete with world’s hungry over staple grains
  • Increased bacterial food contamination
  • Breeds “superbugs” (resistant to antibiotics)
  • Source of heart disease and cancer
“The Livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every scale from local to global
--UN’s FAO 2006

  • Severely depletes groundwater / aquifers
  • Contributes to the eutrophication of rivers and dead zones in the Gulf Of Mexico
  • Potential collapse of world fisheries by 2048
  • 90% of large predatory fish pop. Depleted and most fisheries fully or over-exploited
  • Large numbers of unwanted fish killed as by-catch (Only ½ of fish caught in nets are eaten)
  • Deep water trawling destroy ancient marine habitats (like clear-cutting a rainforest)
  • Shrimp farming destroy coastal forests
Conversion Ratios (protein output : input)
Over 95% animals in the USA are from CAFOs
  • 1:2 chicken
  • 1:5 pig
  • 1:10 cows
Over half of fish now come from fish farms
  • 1:3 salmon
  • 1:5 cod
  • 1: 20 tuna
  • Occupies 33% of arable land, 70% ag land
  • Responsible for 55% of land erosion in USA
  • US diet uses 20x more land than vegan diet
  • Responsible for 70% of Amazon deforestation
  • Eradication of wildlife (i.e. wolves and bison)
  • Livestock sector contribute 18% of global anthropogenic GHGs
  • US diet : vegan diet // SUV : compact car
  • Ammonia emissions major cause of acid rain

15-40min: MOVIE
--Animal Factories in Michigan (see below)

40-60min: WORKSHEETS
Discuss the questions for the readings in small groups (10min each)
--write your names at the top!

Q1: What would the following ethicists' positions be on producing and consuming animals in the context of today's readings on animal agribusiness' impact on animal welfare, social welfare, and the environment? (Please give an explanation of only one sentence):

  1. Immanuel Kant (Deontologist)
  2. Peter Singer (Utilitarian)
  3. Upton Sinclair (Socialist)
  4. Greta Gaard (Anti-colonialist Feminist)

Q2: After reading the articles and discussing the ethical positions above, what ought to be done to produce and consume animals sustainably on a global scale?(Consider the questions below. You MUST justify your answers with today's readings)

  1. Are people eating too many animals and animal products? If so, how much is too much?
  2. Are there certain animals we ought not to eat? Which ones? Why?
  3. Should certain people eat less or more animals? If so, which ones? Why?
  4. If you had the power, what agricultural policies would you write for the USA?
  5. As individuals in the USA, what actions ought we take in regards to eating animals?
60-80min: DISCUSSION
--Discuss the questions above with regards to today's readings.

PBS FRONTLINE: Polluted Waters (Chesapeake Bay Chicken Farms)

SIERRA CLUB: Living a Nightmare: Animal Factories in Michigan

POP TECH 2009: Gidon Eshel on the Impact of Food

Gidon Eshel: The Impact of Food from PopTech on Vimeo.

TED: Mark Bittman on What's wrong with what we eat

1 comment:

  1. The problem is with conventionally raised meats. Grass-fed cattle can actually help REVERSE climate change, sequester carbon, increase water holding capacity of land (reduce runoff/waste), and provide food from land that is not arable for crops.