29 November 2010

Five thought traps—the foundations for hunger, poverty and environmental catastrophes

Below and in the next few posts I want to share some thoughts from authors Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappé, in their book Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. The short exposure to this book as impacted my thinking in a lot of ways. Most importantly this line of thoughts is something that should be inherent in Christian thought and theology, but unfortunately it isn’t. Let me introduce the Five Thought Traps first.

scarcity1. The enemy is scarcity; production is our savior.

With the human population doubling every fifty years or so, there just isn't enough stuff to go around...like land, food, and water. To survive, we have to produce more and more.

“In the original Diet for a Small Planet, (the authors) set out to explode the scarcity myth with mountains of evidence showing the abundance—and the waste—in our food system.

For me, discovering that here in the US we feed sixteen pounds of grain and soy to cattle to get one pound back in meat was the first real wake up call. Because so much of our harvested acreage goes to feed livestock, the waste is staggering. I calculated that the grain we annually feed livestock could provide the equivalent of a bowl of food for every person on earth every day of the year! So, I thought, anyone who simply looked at the facts would be spurred to make big changes.

But I guess I didn’t appreciate the strength of this thought trap’s grip. Even now, thirty years later, the US Department of Agriculture sees no problem at all. Its economists maintain that the grain to beef ratio is “only” seven to one—as if seven pounds of feed to get only one pound back is some mark of efficiency. (To get their seven-to-one ratio, government analysts must credit grain and soy feeding with all the meat produced, although they know that more than half comes from grass, hay and other things cattle eat.)”

Next Time: 2) We are all selfish and the only thing that counts is the survival of the fittest.

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