Monday, August 30, 2010

Global Ecology and Food

In Chapter 4 of the book, I focus on how our current eating habits are putting serious pressure on global ecological constraints. It's always nice to know that other people share similar concerns.

Last week's New York Times carried a review of a book by Julian Cribb, The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It, which makes a similar case.

One of the most striking passages in the review came toward the end:
“Even if North Americans and Europeans halved their meat and dairy consumption,” Mr. Cribb writes, “the saving could be completely swamped by the demand from six hundred million newly affluent Indian and Chinese consumers.”
The rise of India and China complicates the idea that the switch to more sustainable eating (eating less, eating locally, eating organic) will avoid a global crisis. Of course, population pessimists since Thomas Malthus have been worrying about the outstripping of food resources by population growth. Thus far, the globalized food system has been able to produce a seeming abundance of food through industrial methods. But at some point we really could run out of earth to sustain the kind of high calorie, high animal protein eating that millions of people now expect.

Eating locally and growing your own garden is a good start, but maybe we can all learn from the Amish (for more on this, see chapter 4). Simple practices of stewardship bear witness to the belief that God's Creation participates in his goodness. Living out stewardship is a practice that demonstrates hope to the world.

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