Creative math can’t deny U.S. beef is a climate catastrophe

As the clock runs down on avoiding catastrophic climate change, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging America’s burger habit.

Beef gets a bad rap for good reason. There is no sustainable method of producing beef at current levels of consumption. Industrial agriculture is an environmental nightmare, from feed crop to slaughterhouse. And a Harvard study determined that current pastureland could only support 27% of the beef supply if we switched to a grass-fed system — the number would be even smaller if we were assessing a regenerative system. …

The beef with burgers and false solutions to the climate crisis

Burger King claims to have found the Holy Grail of food-related climate solutions: the reduced methane emissions burger. The company claims that by introducing 100 grams of lemongrass into their beef cow’s daily diets they’ve reduced by 33% emissions tied to their burgers.

Let’s be clear. Cows are key drivers of climate change and tossing a little lemongrass into their diets won’t change that.

Burgers are a cornerstone of the sustainable food conversation among foodies and families alike. But changing what cows eat simply won’t make the difference we need to meet global emission-reduction targets. …

How the meat monopoly is killing animals, people and the planet

By Mia MacDonald of Brighter Green and Jennifer Molidor of the Center for Biological Diversity

This spring, U.S. meat corporations raised false fears of a “meat shortage.” While the supply crisis didn’t pan out, it did expose a much bigger problem designed by a small, consolidated and powerful set of corporations.

With the White House and too many legislators willing to do the meat industry’s bidding, the foxes are guarding our hen houses with unjust, lethal and environmentally toxic consequences just so the six companies that control the majority of meat processing in the U.S. …

How beef-heavy diets threaten water in the West

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Photo cby Lomig on Unsplash

Whether you’re chomping on burgers in Portland or Seattle, or eating a steak in Los Angeles or Denver, the beef production needed for these meals is depleting our rivers in the West.

For many of us living in western states, threats of drought and water scarcity are ever-present. We know to use water wisely and conserve when we can. But there’s one big aspect of water use that we need to talk about — meat production.

A landmark new study in Nature Sustainability, “Water Scarcity and Fish Imperilment Driven by Beef Production,” connects beef production to water scarcity and threats to wildlife. …

New report reveals supermarkets’ slow road to zero food waste

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Don’t think about where all this produce came from. (Photo credit: Daylen/Wikimedia Commons)

Recently, while shopping, I was horrified to see a supermarket employee throwing away a whole stand of perfectly good apples. Shockingly, this happens every day around the country.

Grocery stores continue to discard edible food and disregard policies that could stop food waste before it starts. That’s in part because these supermarkets are designed to create an illusion of abundance.

As shoppers sort through pyramids of produce for the most visually appealing fruits and vegetables, we aren’t supposed to think about what happens to all the food that doesn’t make it into our baskets. We shouldn’t consider how it got to the shelves in the first place. …

It’s time to hold some of the biggest waste offenders accountable

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Photo by Sydney Rae

Food waste is taking a toll on the environment, the economy and the fight against hunger. That’s why April has been named “Winning on Reducing Food Waste” month. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration are teaming up to reduce food waste.

While that’s a step in the right direction, the government’s lack of specific actions still lets the biggest food-waste offenders, especially grocery stores, off the hook. One big problem is the government’s message of “feed people, not landfills.” By the time food is wasted it’s too late to prevent environmental impacts.

Food production uses 25 percent of all fresh water consumed, 13 percent of the total carbon emissions and 80 million acres of farmland. 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten — costing more than $200 billion each year. …

Despite industry hype, burgers are still eating up the environment

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no such thing as sustainable beef with our current rates of consumption and its impact on the planet.

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Don’t believe the hype: there’s no such thing as “sustainable beef.” (Credit: Pixabay)

Yet there’s a lot of hype from the industry these days to revamp beef as the new eco-friendly food. Environmental scientists don’t buy it and neither should you, because it’s nothing but greenwashing.

What’s my beef with this common food staple? And as I reported last year, we simply can’t meet global climate goals without reducing meat consumption, especially beef. …

Case study: Tesco

The new report, “Checked Out: How U.S. Supermarkets Fail to Make the Grade in Reducing Food Waste,” shows that the European company Tesco has emerged as a global leader in reducing food waste in the grocery retail sector. In many ways, its strategies for tracking, reporting and reducing food waste are effective models for the U.S. market.

Tesco’s commitment to eliminating food waste, as well as the scope of its programs to address food waste throughout its supply chain and operations, and its transparency in tracking and reporting on its progress is the most ambitious of European supermarkets. …

The environmental impacts of supermarket food waste

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An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, totaling about 62.5 million tons. That costs households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually.

Also wasted were the resources that went into producing that food, including 25 percent of all freshwater consumed, 13 percent of the total carbon emissions and 80 million acres of farmland used in the United States.

Uneaten food is the single largest source of trash in municipal landfills, attracting wildlife with an unnatural and often toxic food source. Landfills are the third largest source of the greenhouse gas methane produced in the country. …

An introduction to the ways supermarkets fail to reduce food waste in the U.S.

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Supermarkets have an enormous influence on the food system, including the environmental footprint of food waste. As the primary place where most Americans purchase food, supermarkets influence what makes it from farms to shelves, what happens to unsold food and even how much and what types of food shoppers buy. Roughly 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten — costing more than $200 billion each year and creating unnecessary impacts on water supplies, clean air, climate and wildlife.

The new report, “Checked Out: How Supermarkets Fail to Make the Grade When It Comes to Reducing Food Waste,” from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Ugly Fruit and Veg campaign, analyzes key food-waste reduction commitments, policies and actions across the top supermarket chains in the United States. Using publicly available information and details provided by company officials, we evaluated and graded 10 companies — Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, Kroger, Publix, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods Market — that operate a combined total of more than 13,000 grocery stores across the country. The analysis was also applied to Tesco U.K. as an example of a major European supermarket that has adopted effective food-waste reduction policies. …


Jennifer Molidor, Ph.D

Writer, wildlife advocate, professor, plant-based eater. Senior Food Campaigner, Center For Biological Diversity —

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