Monday, July 30, 2012

Meatless Monday & The U.S.D.A / Now You See It, Now You Don't

Are you participating in Meatless Monday today? Well, the U.S.D.A sure isn't. A United States Department of Agriculture interoffice newsletter published on its web-site last week stated, "One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the 'Meatless Monday' initiative," but by Tuesday afternoon the agency's "Greening Headquarters Update" had been removed.

A spokeswoman said in a statement, "U.S.D.A. does not endorse Meatless Monday". Although obvious that at least one person there does support it, the statement said that the newsletter "was posted without proper clearance". Apparently after the newsletter was sent out there were outraged livestock producers and at least one member of Congress tweeting their opinion...and they weren't happy. Representative Steve King, a Republician from Iowa, tweeted "USDA HQ meatless Mondays!! At the Dept. of Agriculture? Heresy! I'm not grazing there. I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead."

The retracted newsletter didn't just mention meatless Mondays, but went on to add "How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000kg of beef." It all makes sense and such a great message. Sadly the organization that is supposed to be promoting these kinds of ideas gets torn apart when they do. A spokesman for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association called it "a slap in the face of the people who every day are working to make sure we have food on the table to say 'Don't eat their product once a week.'" The group also contested any benefit to eating less meat.

Further Reading:
Retracting a Plug for Meatless Mondays- New York Times
Although the original newsletter is no longer on the U.S.D.A. site, copies are on the web. Find one here.

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