The worlds population right now is estimated at approx 7 billion people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population). That’s a LOT of hungry mouths to feed. Now, I am still (probably naively) thinking that we have the population distribution problem rather than an over–population issue. Semantics, however, help us not a jot – mouths are still hungry. How are we going to get enough food for everyone? And specifically in this post: how do we get enough protein for everyone?
If we, the lucky wealthy few, expect to be able to continue eating meat protein as we currently do (burgers, steaks, etc) – then we have to make sure a significant proportion of the 7 billion do NOT eat like that. We simply do not have access to enough large animals to feed 7 billion people a burger. But, for me, ethically, I have to reject that as an option. I want all of us bipedal furless monkey types to have access to good food, and enough of it to survive and thrive. So, how could we do that? It is pretty clear that we need to change how we think about what we eat, and where we get that from.Here are some options, I am sure there are more!
Intensive cattle farming:
The days of the house cow would be over. As would the days of the farm, basically. It would not be economically viable to have large scale farms with animals wandering around – to feed the masses there would have to be massive factory farms. Think battery chickens, but with cows, sheep, pigs etc. There would be medications, antibiotics, weird and wonderful food to force growth, and then an early cull and on to the plate. Again, ethically, the thought give me the dry heaves. Next!
Insects are packed full of protein, and they are small. And some are crunchy. Now, before we all go bllluurrgh, let’s THINK about it, ok? Historically, insects have been a staple diet forever, really. When the crickets eat the corn, we eat the crickets. Or die. And even without a lack of other options, an insect (like the honey ant) can be regarded as a delicacy, and often seen as a food staple in many parts of the world. A brilliant website with a lot of information on the issue is http://www.food-insects.com/ . Let’s face it: we’re super spoiled with our muscle meat eating, and it is a viable alternative to eat insects to support our presence on our planet.
Back to my personal ethical ideas on this: I still think this is a little short sighted. We will still be intensively farming living creatures, and just because most people don’t think insects are ‘cute’ doesn’t give us the right to torture them. I think a LOT of them are cute, and the rest are fascinating. Regardless – I’d think we could find a better solution.
How about lab grown meat?
So, a few cells are harvested, then grown in Petri dishes until a few muscle cells become a whole slab of muscle – steak, in other words. A good website talking about this is http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/19/10449704-lab-grown-hamburger-due-to-be-served-up-this-year-for-330000. On the positive side, while being a donor animal would hurt (a moderate size chunk of tissue is taken for the starter); it wouldn’t kill the animal. Another plus would be the sheer variety of meats you could potentially end up eating – with no huge impact on the wildlife remaining. White Rhino steak? Er, that still sounds so wrong, but you get the point, right? Crocodile sandwich and make it snappy!
On the negative side there’s cost- and a lot of it – and the eeeewwwww factor. Besides, how close is this to genetic modification? Not very -the DNA won’t be tampered with, it’s just straight replication of an entire cell. But if there’s a glitch while in mass production… well, that could be disastrous. However, overall, I think that there has been a LOT of negative press about this, which may just be a knee-jerk reaction to ‘modification’: the true pro’s and con’s will need to be weighed up very carefully. I hope the process can be sped up, made much cheaper, and hopefully not use a grotesque amount of energy or space. Vegetables and fruit could be grown instead of farming cattle for meat.
And what do you think about using proteins from algae ?
Personally I quite like the sound of this option, it seems so Star Trek! Pseudo meat, which of COURSE would be indistinguishable in taste and texture from the real thing, from algae? Oooh yes! Make it better, and push a button on a machine which then goes *tweeddlleedeeedleDING* and beams it into existence. Fun! This article states that it would be a more eco-friendly method of obtaining vegetarian food than soya is, as trees won’t have to be cut down to make the space – a LOT of algae can be grown in a small space (http://www.stichtingmilieunet.nl/andersbekekenblog/milieu/vegetarian-meat-made-from-algae-an-environment-friendly-meat-substitute.html). There are all of the bonuses of muscle meat creation, but even less animal suffering, which is a good thing. (you wouldn’t have a Tall Giraffe Steak Stack though, sorry).
There could be potential problems with fertilisers, and energy use in translating green slime into something edible. But I am hopeful that we will be allowed to utilise new technologies as oil becomes more scarce: and we as a species are NOTHING if not adaptable. Hence the problem in the first place.
Incidentally – there are approx 10 billion billion ants, 18.6 billion domestic chickens (immediately proving I’m not the only mad chicken owner out there), 1.4 billion cows, and 1.1 billion sheep. So even if we ate ALL the cows and sheep put together, we’d probably all only get one meal each. See? Not really feasible to feed us all that way. There are, however, approx500 trillion Antarctic Krill (stats from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/11/03/141946751/along-with-humans-who-else-is-in-the-7-billion-club ). If we haven’t killed them with oil and chemical run-off, that is. Small things would appear to be a better bet for feeding the big things… I’ll bet I could get a Blue Whale to agree with that hypothesis.
Yay, we have a surplus of tomatoes! I thought I would try something different in terms of Tomato Storage this year – normally I cut out the core bit and freeze them whole, then defrost and cook in pasta sauces later in the year. This time I thought I would try to make a tomato stock – pre herbed and spiced, ready to defrost and throw in with mince and / or veges – cut back on the prep time I would normally do. Yep, lazy, but foreplanned lazy counts as smart, right?
So – here’s what I did, in case anyone else wants to give it a go. Word of warning I haven’t tried eating this yet, but I can’t see where there would be a problem (if there is one, later, I’ll let you know! With pictures )
First, assemble basic equipment. Knife, prewashed tomatoes, chopping board, blender/food processer.
Then, cut the white core out of the tomato. I do this by just cutting a circle around it, and hauling it out – the stringy centre bit comes with it. If you cook that thing, its all gritty and horrible.I have to give a shout out to my dad for teaching me heaps about cooking – he wasn’t a great example of a chef, but he was an awesome terrible warning. (Hi S! Love you!)
After coring the tomatoes, slice and dice however appeals. Watch for fingers. Pop the tomato bits in the food processor. For spices I added some pepper, basil pesto, and chili seasoning. Just put in whatever you would normally flavour your pasta or bolognaise sauce with!
Hit that blender button. You know you want to. If you leave the lid off, take a photo and send it to me, ok? I love to laugh
I only pressed ze button for about 20 seconds – I didn’t want it pureered, I wanted some lumps of tomato in my pasta. Yum.
Then, put it in freezer safe containers, label, freeze!
I am looking forward to trying these later. I normally buy tins of chopped tomatoes and use that as the base for my pasta sauces, am happy that this will save me money, but also save me buying a can! I recycle them all, but canning is quite an involved process – and even with recycling I feel a bit of an environmental doofus for buying tinned/canned food.
How do you deal with surplus food / veges?