First we had the arguments over global warming. China asserts that it has the right to produce as much carbon per person as we do. In theory that’s fine, in practice that means a rather unpleasant planet in a hundred years or less. But those who created the mess won’t be around to suffer the consequences.
We’ve pointed out before that Americans need to start eating lower down on the food chain (meaning less animal proteins and dairy products) for some time (although if you must eat meat, chickens and eggs are best, since they turn grain into protein most efficiently). Even though people need little animal or dairy protein to have a healthy diet, telling Americans to cut back on meat no doubt sounds naive.
US eating habits are now getting international scrutiny. Just as we are profligate with energy, so to we are with food (as if our spreading middles weren’t proof enough).
A New York Times article cites a UN study, based on 2001-2003 research, that the US uses or wastes 3.770 calories a day per capita versu 2,440 in India. (I’ve seen a more recent factoid, but can’t recall the source, that said 4,000 calories day per American. And remember that includes children). That doesn’t allow for our much higher consumption of meat, which is far more costly to produce (FYI tuna is a top predator, so high on the food chain also).
When I was a kid, I was told, “Clean your plate, think of the starving children in India.” That formula needs updating.
From the New York Times:
Instead of blaming India and other developing nations for the rise in food prices, Americans should rethink their energy policy — and go on a diet
That has been the response, basically, of a growing number of politicians, economists and academics in this country, who are angry at statements by top United States officials that India’s rising prosperity is to blame for food inflation….
For instance, Pradeep S. Mehta, secretary general of the center for international trade, economics and the environment of CUTS International, an independent research institute based here, said that if Americans slimmed down to the weight of middle-class Indians, “many hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa would find food on their plates.”
He added, archly, that the money spent in the United States on liposuction to get rid of fat from excess consumption could be funneled to feed famine victims.
Mr. Mehta’s comments may sound like the macroeconomic equivalent of “so’s your old man,” but they reflect genuine outrage — and ballooning criticism — toward the United States in particular, over recent remarks by President Bush.
After a news conference in Missouri on May 2, he was quoted as saying of India’s burgeoning middle class, “When you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.”…..
The Asian Age, a newspaper based here, argued in an editorial last week that Mr. Bush’s “ignorance on most matters is widely known and openly acknowledged by his own countrymen,” and that he must not be allowed to “get away” with an effort to “divert global attention from the truth by passing the buck on to India.”…..
Indians from the prime minister’s office on down frequently point out that per capita, India uses far lower quantities of commodities and pollutes far less than nations in the West, particularly the United States.