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Letter to the Editor from Linda Gould Steffey: Food Resources and World Hunger - 14 Nov 2007

Dear Editor, THE SMITHFIELD TIMES, INC; November 14, 2007

I have recently found some facts concerning the grave social and environmental problems we now face at a global level. Few people know of them, because we are a society severely disconnected from the earth we live on. Hopefully there is a growing awareness of how we are interconnected to all life which lives around us and that we are the root of our problems and not the animals and other life forms that share our earth with us.

In 1985, Americans were consuming half the grains/potatoes they did at the turn of the century, 33% more dairy products, 50% more beef and 280% more chicken. This shift resulted in a diet with 1/3rd more fat, 1/5th less carbohydrates, and levels of protein consumption far exceeding official recommendations. The increase in demand for animal products has resulted in a large reallocation of resources, has promoted the degradation of global ecosystems and disrupted and displaced indigenous cultures worldwide. The impact on our health has been equally devastating and these problems go back to our personal dietary habits--our demand for meat, poultry and dairy.

The amount of soy grown in the U.S. consumed by livestock is 90%. Amount of corn grown in the U.S. and fed livestock...80%. How often a child dies of malnutrition/starvation...every 2.3 seconds. Amount of total U.S. grain exports consumed by livestock...66%. Number of children who die resulting from malnutrition/starvation each day is 38,000! The number of people who will die this year as a result of starvation/ malnutrition....20,000,000! The number of people who could be fed using the land, water, and energy that would be freed up from growing livestock if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%?? 100,000,000! Amount of increase of global cattle population during the last 40 years? 100% The amount of increase in global fowl population during the last 40 years: 200% The ratio of livestock to people on the earth: three to one..The amount of earth's land mass grazed by livestock: one half. Amount of US cropland producing fruits and vegetables: 2%. Amount of US cropland producing livestock feed: 64% ! Total value of irrigation water used by animal feed growers in the US each year: $500 million to $1 billion. The activity that accounts for more than half of all water consumed for all purposes in the US: livestock production! Regions most effected by desertification: All cattle-producing areas, including the western half of the US, Central and South America, Australia and sub-Saharan Africa and the five leading causes of desertification: overgrazing of livestock. The estimated area of rainforest destroyed annually: 125,000 square miles and the leading cause of rainforest destroyed : cattle production! Production of excrement by US livestock: 230,000 pounds. Amount of waste created by 10,000 head of cattle: Equal to a city of 110,000 people! Diseases linked to animal protein consumption: Osteoporosis. The average measurable bone loss of female meat-eaters at 65: 35%. The average measurable bone loss of female vegetarians at age 65: 18% Major source of pesticides in western diets: meat, poultry and dairy products!

John Denver once said that there was no reason anyone on our earth should go hungry. We no longer value life here. We are able to create life from non-life, life without nature and life without woman which just might be the goal of our male dominated society all along.

If we no longer value other life forms, we surely will not value our own.

Chief Joseph was a wise man who said....."The earth does not belong to us...we belong to the earth". And by golly, we had better begin to nurture the earth as it has always nurtured us or we are doomed. It begins with our diets and with our ways of living with the earth and not against her.

Linda Gould Steffey

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