CROSS-POSTED from SALON.com
(Aug. 4, 201) — To understand how utterly broken our society is, how hostile to sacrifice we are and how willfully ignorant we have become, you need only look at the historic drought hammering the heartland — and how our elected officials are responding to that cataclysm.
As you likely know from this arid summer, America is suffering through the worst drought since 1950. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, half of all counties in the nation are officially disaster areas — a situation that has devastated the country’s supply of agriculture commodities. Consequently, food prices are expected to skyrocket, and eventually, water-dependent power plants may be forced to shut down.
This is a full-on emergency, and USDA, a key agency involved in the national security issues surrounding our food and water supply, last week responded with a minor non-binding recommendation. In its inter-office newsletter to agency employees, it suggested that those who want to conserve water could simply refrain from eating meat on Mondays.
The idea is part of the worldwide “Meatless Monday” campaign, which the New York Times notes is backed by “thousands of corporate cafeterias, restaurants and schools.” In the face of a drought, it’s a pragmatic notion. Cornell University researchers estimate that “producing a pound of animal protein requires, on average, about 100 times more water than producing a pound of vegetable protein.” According to the U.S. Geological Survey, that means a typical hamburger requires a whopping 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to make.
Considering these numbers in juxtaposition to the drought, taking one day a week off from meat-eating seems like the absolute least we should be willing to do in a nation whose average citizen annually consumes an unfathomable 194 pounds of meat. And yet, in Washington, the USDA recommendation was a cause for outrage.
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I believe Americans are good, kind people capable of great sacrifice given half the chance and half the facts. But how great a sacrifice is it to give up meat one day week?
It appears to me this is how broken Washington DC politicians are, not U.S. society. Unless you adhere to the philosophy that Washington in actuality mirrors the average American’s thinking and is giving them what they really want. If true, then it is very, very ugly.