Monday, March 28, 2011

anti-BlackPeopleLoveChicken pro-Water Conservation

I despise any stereotype linking Black people to a genetically based obsession with chicken. But walking past Chicken Licken or KFC, it’s difficult to defend my people.  It simply isn’t a party without a drumstick or a thigh. There are family politics based on which chicken piece goes to whom. I was assigned a wing till I was 13 years old, and then I was allowed a wing and a drumstick from 14 to 18. Now I typically go for a breast to assert my newly found adultness.

I recently heard a story about a man who collapsed at the doors of KFC; he was woken up with a glass of water and offered an apple. In response, he said, “If I wanted an apple, I wouldn’t come here now would I?” Add to that, a friends’ grandmother insists she breaks out in hives if she doesn’t have her pap and chicken every day and in another instance, my God Mother was describing how beautiful the wedding she had been to was. There was one problem…”No meat!” Sigh. The stories are endless and I’m running out of clear justifications for this madness.

As a semi- tree hugger (i.e. when I feel like it) and an anti-BlackPeopleLoveChickenist, I tried Meat Free Monday. It worked, mainly because pasta and bottled sauce are a dream after a long day; 12 minutes max and dinner is served. Sometimes I’d add a salad on the side but that’s another 10 minutes too long. Notice how I’m talking in past tense? Meat Free Monday has left the building… and the kitchen… and my life. I found myself rebelling; if I want to eat meat on a Monday, I will! Who's going to tell me otherwise? Then cropped up the question how much is my chicken or beef intake really destroying the planet? Then I forgot about it one too many Mondays and it became something I had once tried.

Time for some real talk. It takes 1000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain. 70% of world water use is devoted to irrigation. A modest reduction in the consumption of meat, milk and eggs could cut grain use per person by 100 kilograms each and therefore reduce the use of water dramatically. In 2005, meat consumption was at 260 million tons globally. For some reason, more income means more meat consumption. An obvious solution is to stop eating meat but a more realistic solution is to moderate our consumption and shift to more grain efficient products (e.g. soy bean and tofu). If you don’t particularly care for a cow or chickens life, let me guilt trip you by pointing out that (1 in 8) or 884 million people in the world have no source of safe drinking water. In addition, here’s a badly kept secret that we keep archiving: there is no new technology that is going to produce more water.

Thank you to my neighbour and confidant Stephanie Eaton for suggesting this topic. She had an attempt at being vegan but in a sad twist of fate found out her body requires a small portion of meat for the optimum amount of protein, minerals and vitamins. Unlike her, I don’t have the strength to resist a medium to well done beef fillet; a strip of bacon after a heavy night out or a home cooked chicken stew. The documentaries and movies about how 'meat is bad for you' don’t faze me and I’ve seen chickens, sheep and cows being slaughtered from an early age. I roll my eyes at Peta campaigns and yawn at their demonstrations but I cannot stand the thought that we are consciously heading towards a water crisis.

Lester Brown writes one of the most enlightening books on this topic. Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble is available online to read at your own leisure but essentially: 
"Among the more visible manifestations of water scarcity are rivers running dry and lakes disappearing. A politics of water scarcity is emerging between upstream and downstream claimants both within and among countries. Water scarcity is now crossing borders via the international grain trade. Countries that are pressing against the limits of their water supply typically satisfy the growing need of cities and industry by diverting irrigation water from agriculture, and then importing grain to offset the loss of productive capacity." 
What is respectable about this author is that he provides sustainable solutions. Governments and corporations are not likely to listen to the ramblings of a full time tree- hugger but you can.

I suppose I have to do as I preach, Meat Free Monday is back on and I found this South African Vegan Blog for some excellent advise on how to eat more consciously. Happy Monday folks.

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1 comment:

  1. At least you've graduated to a breast! Welcome.