by Fireweed, for the Island Word, September 2014 edition
Who knew that the thrill - or the threat - of an ice cold shower could harbour such potential? The phenomenal success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than big money and awareness about a debilitating disease with no known cure. It has inadvertently raised ethical concerns about fundraising dollars and animal research. And it has also called into question the squandering of potable water. People as far away as drought-stricken Henan, China, have responded to the viral campaign by staging photos of themselves with empty buckets raised above their heads. In thirsty California, some participants have substituted sand to highlight the water crisis there.
|-water waste wrong for drought-strieken Henan, China|
|click to enlarge|
California produces nearly half of all fruit, nuts and vegetables consumed in the United States and is responsible for 70 percent of the plant foods imported to British Columbia. According to UBC Land and Food Systems Professor James Vercammen, we import three times as much fruit as we export, due to our short growing season. What is happening in California is far reaching and should be instructive, particularly in terms of how much precious water is diverted into unnecessary animal products. We could and should be growing far more plant foods here as well on arable land currently occupied by livestock.
It takes approximately 435 gallons of water to produce a standard four ounce serving of beef in the US, according to a study by Mekonnen and Hoekstra. The same size serving of pork uses 165 gallons of water, and for chicken that figure is 66 gallons. Grass fed animals do not have a smaller water footprint, because access to sunlight and outdoor activity increases thirst. Contributing even more to livestock's water footprint, of course, are the copious quantities of water necessary for the slaughter process – an estimated 132 gallons per bovine carcass.
While meat products have a far greater water footprint than dairy, revealing the H20 'hidden' in a single stick of butter (109 gallons), a single serving of greek yogurt (90 gallons), two thin slices of cheese (50 gallons), or one small scoop of ice cream (42 gallons) exposes these products as the water squanderers they truly are! Switching from cow's milk to almond milk reduces water waste by about 25%, while choosing a glass of organic soy milk is 75% more water conserving. Transitioning to a fully plant-based diet can reduce one's water footprint by 60%.
Not only would a concerted public shift away from animal product consumption be immensely helpful to the survival of California's finite water reserves, it would greatly reduce the rate of GHG emissions from animal farming - a bigger contributor to global warming than all transportation combined. When world leaders gather in New York City for the 2014 Climate Summit this month, they will be greeted by tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding real solutions. A growing number of activists are fed up with the fact that mainstream environmental organizations continue to marginalize the elephant in the room by focusing primarily on fossil fuel reduction and anything but animal agriculture in their climate campaigns. It's true that the animal agriculture industrial complex is a daunting force to be reckoned with. “Cowspiracy - The Sustainability Secret”, an excellent crowd-funded documentary recently launched in San Francisco is exposing this problem to sold-out audiences far and wide. Showing at Denman Island's Sustainability Festival on Saturday, September 20th! Click HERE for details!
For article references and additional info, please see the column on the right hand side of this page under Sept. 2014- Useful LINKS.
Fireweed's Dairy-Free Decadence!
3 or 4 frozen organic (preferably Free Trade) bananas, peeled
1 whole peach (can be fresh frozen, or canned frozen with liquid drained)
1/4 cup of frozen berries (blackberries, blueberries, or other fruit of choice…the photo included cherries)
a pinch of cinammon
a pinch of stevia, or a drizzle of agave syrup
*optional: home preserves
Dip frozen ripe bananas in hot water for a quick minute or two to easily strip the skip, break into thirds and place in cold high speed blender with frozen peach, berries or other frozen fruit of choice with sweetener and cinammon, and pulse. If you don't have a Vitamix, or other heavy duty blender, you can add a little bit of coconut or nut milk (not too much!) to help the process along. Speed is essential…you want to keep your frozen ingredients from thawing out too much! You can fold in additional fruit preserves separately for a streaking effect or add to the initial mix. In the photo example I used frozen pitted cherries. Consume at once or scoop into small containers and freeze immediately. Soften slightly to scrape out of container whenever you're ready to serve at a later time. Bon appetit!