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Meat Rationing

October 17, 2008

The war on climate change is come, and it’s time to break out the ration cards. A report by the Food Climate Research Network based in Surrey, England, has recommended that the best way to control consumption of meat, milk, and foods with high environmental impact and low nutritional value may be straight up allotment. It doesn’t mesh particularly well with an American, freeish-market, individualist mindset, but it does make mathematic sense.

According to the Guardian, Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network is skeptical about the possibility of ever changing the mindset of the average consumer:

Study upon study has shown that awareness-raising campaigns alone are unlikely to work, particularly when it comes to more difficult changes.

The study recommended that in order to avoid runaway climate change, a person should be rationed to a liter of milk a week and four “modest portions” of meat.

Such a plan would inarguably be effective, and also probably give rise to a black supermarket with shadowy trenchcoated figures dipping tin cans into troughs overflowing with illicit milk. I’m not the kind of person that labors under the delusion that a true free market exists, but this kind of program seems to overstep the bounds of subsidies and government spending and enter into the realm of a command economy.

Then again, maybe they’re right, and Joe-six pack will drive the environment into the dust if left to his own devices. Is authoritarian government the only way to save the world?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jaime permalink
    October 17, 2008 3:53 am

    I think that calling for rationing is somewhat extreme — haven’t relentless government-run advertising campaigns like those incessant and horribly graphic anti-smoking ads worked to change people’s behavior?

  2. DougE permalink
    October 20, 2008 12:41 am

    That is not a lot of meat. I really don’t eat a lot of meat, yet I felt startled by those numbers. I think it was the dairy that got to me; one liter and one 4 oz serving of cheese a week?

    But this is evading the point. Meat is so cheap because the production system thrives on subsidized grain. If we were just to get rid of the subsidies, meat production would decrease dramatically (due to CAFO’s no longer being economically feasible). It would definately return to a more local system, and we might even see it reach a more natural and sustainable level on its own.

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