I’m writing in response to the Food4Thought column on Saturday, June 22. While I applaud the efforts of the program, and support projects such as a community garden, I’m concerned that hosting a screening of the film “Cowspiracy” may create a one-sided conversation about food and the environment.
My profession, and many in the science community, dub these films as “shockumentaries” — designed to tug on your emotions with graphic, out-of-context or highly misleading information. While these types of movies often include some facts, they are also filled with falsehoods.
F4T may consider consulting with local dairy farmers and other experts that can share information about agriculture, the environment and animal welfare. There are many experts on the topic. I can suggest Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis (researchgate.net/profile/Frank_Mitloehner), who specializes in measurements and mitigation of greenhouse gases. The faculty at Penn State’s Animal Agriculture department is also a great resource (animalscience.psu.edu).
I support everyone’s choice to choose to be an omnivore or herbivore, but we most likely would not be able to meet production needs to sustainably feed the growing world with whole plant foods. In an effort to address our GHG (greenhouse gas) problem, animal food production changes may seem like low-hanging fruit, but it’s not that simple. Keep in mind that this is a global problem and the U.S. is a leader in animal ag sustainability.
In my opinion, the issue of GHG (methane) must be approached in a broad and global manner, addressing fossil fuels and other sources of GHG. Many factors impact our environment, and all inputs have outputs, even plants (did you know that rice cultivation also has a significant impact on GHG, with recent research showing it may be 30-45 times the amount as previously thought or 80 million gallons, of its state’s water to grow almonds).
I hope that the F4T project will consider bringing various points of view and evidence-based information about agriculture to the community.