The Department of Agriculture, apparently concerned about consumer confusion over what “natural” meat might be, is proposing to define the term. Right now, “natural” means minimally processed plus whatever the marketer says it means, and nobody is checking (I devote a chapter of What to Eat to explaining all this). This proposal, as the USDA explains, would be a voluntary marketing claim (“no antibiotics, no hormones”). The proposal is open for comment until January 28. Want to comment? Do that at this site.
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Thanks to Lisa Young, author of The Portion Teller, for passing along a neat article from the Detroit News about country-of-origin-labeling of meat. Check out the map showing the global nature of our meat supply. Unless Congress delays these labels yet again, we’ll be seeing them at meat counters starting next year. And won’t that be interesting? Stay tuned.
Today’s New York Times business section is worth reading for an article about advertisements run by PETA and the Humane Society stating that eating meat has a worse effect on climate change than cars do. The ads are based on a report from FAO (the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations) arguing that the “livestock sector” is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases and water pollution. This sector, says the report, accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. This seems like a lot but the report adds it up from three sources: deforestation, digestive gases, and manure. Livestock, the FAO report says, should be a leading focus for environmental policies.
Somehow, this report got by me and I’m glad to know about it. It links diets that are good for people with those that are good for the planet and gives more good reasons for the value of eating a largely plant-based diet.