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Food Choices and the Planet

The toll exacted on human health by a diet laden with saturated fat and cholesterol is devastating, and thoroughly documented. What is this same diet doing to our planet?

The Good News About the Environment and Our Food Choices

Many farmers are rediscovering the farming methods of their grandfathers and augmenting this with new knowledge of sustainable techniques. These are achieving the same or greater yields without the use of costly, harmful and soil-depleting petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Ultimately, it is consumer demand that has brought us to this juncture of depleted and polluted soils, seas and fresh water supplies through the desire to have a "cheap" food supply. Only a profound change in consumer demand can prevent a total collapse of the seas and the soils.

By eating a varied plant-based diet, you can easily get all the nutrients you need to lead a healthy active life. Besides being easy, delicious, economical, fun and healthful, following a plant-based diet transforms your fork into a powerful tool for environmental protection and restoration.

Land Utilization and Soil Erosion Water Consumption Endangered Species Rainforest Destruction Pollution Pesticides & Food Contamination
Percentage Increase
3,300% overall pesticide use
20% overall crop losses due to insects
100,000% pesticides applied per acre of corn
Resource Distribution

Resources used in the production of livestock:

World Hunger

[1] Lester Brown, et al., Vital Signs 1994 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1994), pg. 32.

[2] Robert Repetto "Renewable Resources and Population Growth," Population and Environment 10:4 (Summer 1989) pg. 228-29 cited in Rifkin, Beyond Beef (New York: Dutton Press, 1992).

[3] Myra Klockenbrink, "The New Range War Has the Desert as Foe," New York Times,Aug. 20, 1991, pg. C4.

[4] Ibid., pg. 3.

[5] Ibid., pg. 3.

[6] US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics 1989; p. 390, table 554, "Crops: Area, Yield, Production and Value, United States, 1986-99" (Washington, DC: GPO, 1989).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Tom Aldridge and Herb Schlubach, "Water Requirements for Food Production," Soil and Water, no. 38 (Fall 1978), University of California Cooperative Extension, 13017; Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Population, Resources, Environment (San Francisco: Freemna, 1972), pg. 75-76.

[9] Ibid., pg. 13-17.

[10] Georg Borgstrom, presentation to the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1981, cited in John Robbins, Diet for a New America (Walpole, NH: Stillpoint, 1987), pg. 367.

[11] Losos, et al., The Living Landscape (Washington, DC: Wilderness Society and Environmental Defense Fund, 1993), pg. 20.

[12] Ibid, pg. 10.

[13] Norman Myers, The Primary Source: Tropical Forests and Our Future, 1992, cited in Brown et al. as per note 7.

[14] Lewis Scott, The Rainforest Book (Venice, CA: The Living Planet Press, 1990).

[15] Alan During and Holly Brough, Taking Stock, Worldwatch Paper #103 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1991), pg. 25.

[16] Jim Mason, "Fowling the Waters," E Magazine, Sep/Oct 1995, pg. 33.

[17] EPA workgroup report 1994, cited in Jim Mason, note 15.

[18] Natural Resources Defense Council and International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, Hog Wash: Factory Farm Giveaways in Clean Water Act Proposals, July 1995.

[19] Ibid.

[20] San Jose Mercury News, Sept. 6, 1994.

[21] Pimental, et al., Handbook of Pest Management in Agriculture, 2nd ed. (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1990).

[22] David Pimental, Cornell University, as quoted by Lisa Y. Lefferts and Roger Blobaum, "Eating as if the Earth Mattered," E Magazine, Jan/Feb 1992, pg. 32.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility, "Tap Water Blues," Oct. 1994.

[25] Lewis Regenstein, How to Survive in America the Poisoned (Herndon, VA: Acropolis Books, 1982), pg. 173.

[26] EPA study cited in USA Today, Sept. 13, 1994.

[27] Rachel’s Environment and Health Weekly, #450, July 13, 1995.

[28] Ibid.

[29] "A Brief Review of Selected Environmental Contamination Incidents with a Potential for Health Effects," prepared by the Library of Congress for the Committee on Environment and Public Works, US Senate (Aug 1980), pg. 173-174.

[30] Carl Safina, "The World’s Imperiled Fish," Scientific American, Nov. 1995.

[31] Lester Brown and Gary Gardner, State of the World 1996,W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1996 pg. 93

[32] Frances Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet, 10th Anniversary edition (New York: Ballantine Books, 1982), pg. 69.

[33] Brown, Lenssen and Kane, Vital Signs 1995, Worldwatch Institute, 1995, pg. 137.

[34] USDA, Economic Research Service, "World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, WASD-256," July 11, 1991, tables 256,-7, -16, -19, -23.

[35] USDA, Agricultural Statistics 1989; pg. 31, table 40, "Corn: Supply and Disappearance US, 1974-1988."

[36] USDA, Economic Research Service, "World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, WASD-256," July 11, 1991, pg. 17.

[37] Amended Petition Requesting the Food and Drug Administration to Halt the Feeding of Ruminant Animal Protein to Ruminants, The Foundation of Economic Trends, Washington, DC, June 3, 1993.

[38] James W. Oltjen, "Potential Sources of Water Contamination from Confined and Grazing Animal Operations," Animal Agriculture: Impacts on Water Quality in California,University of California, Davis, October 1994, pg. 10.

[39] Gurney Williams III, "Swearing Off the Miracle," Vegetarian Times, Feb, 1994.

[40] USDA figures as cited in Frances Moore Lappe, op. cit. note 35, pg. 70.

[41] Lester Brown, op. cit, note 1.

[42] "Eating into the deficit," US News and World Report,March 6, 1995, pg. 73-78.

[43] Colin Greer, "Something is Robbing Our Children," Parade Magazine, March 5, 1995.

[44] Patricia Allen, "The Human Face of Sustainable Agriculture," Issue Paper No. 4, Nov. 1994, University of California, Santa Cruz, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

[45] Lester Brown, as quoted by Resenberger, "Curb on US Waste Urged to Help the Worlds Hungry," New York Times, 14 Nov. 1974, adjusted using 1988 figures from USDA, Agricultural Statistics 1989, table 74, "High Protein Feeds," and table 75, "Feed Concentrates Fed to Livestock and Poultry."

[46] Council for Science and Technology, How Much Land Can Ten Billion People Spare for Nature?, Feb. 1994, pg. 13.

[47] Lester Brown and Gary Gardner, op. cit. note 34., pg. 4.