Ben's Reviews > The End of Food

The End of Food by Paul       Roberts
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Nov 18, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: agriculture
Read from November 18 to December 08, 2010

Without outright stating what diet would be a better option, my own conclusion after reading this book is that it is the most convincing evidence for vegetarianism. One piece of evidence talked about in this book is that it takes 100 tons of water to grow 1 ton of grain. If 20 lbs of grain is required to make 1 lb. of a cow, or 9 lbs. of grain to make 1 lb. of beef, it takes at least 900 lbs (900/6 = 150 gallons) of water to get a pound of beef. If irrigation is only 60% efficient, that's 60 gallons of blue water lost to runoff for every pound of beef.
Another convincing argument is this. Since we're in a global market for food these days, the goal is to enable regions to specialize in mono-culture. The US is good at wheat, corn and a few other things. We buy beef from China. When that beef shows up and makes people really sick, do we say to China, "We won't buy your meat until you fix your food safety issues"? Nope. We say "Give me more meat!!!!" It's a typical capitalist attitude. It's actually very libertarian to say "safety is in the hands of the consumer." If every consumer knew the cost of the food they ate, not only one their own bodies, but on the planet. If every consumer knew the risk associated with bacteria and other safety concerns, then this country may have better food options. A couple things I know: meat is delicious; protesting by not eating meat does not have mass appeal; food safety issues are only a concern when they're current.
This book does an amazing job at explaining the history of agriculture, policy and food safety. It is fairly biased, but not so much as to be emotional (like "Eating Animals"). I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about policy than "Omnivore's Dilemma" or "Fast Food Nation" provides. Educate yourself, you may be surprised at how good your dinners will start to taste.
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