Monday, February 2, 2009

Eating less meat in Cincinnati

The city of Cincinnati now has a food task force as part of its Green Cincinnati Action Plan (warning: link goes to pdf). Since the Plan was passed last June, this isn't news. What's news is that our local newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, posted a news item about the Plan's food recommendation with the odd headline "Cincy wants you to eat less meat":

"Yes, even in this city symbolized by a flying pig and once called Porkopolis, officials worry about residents leaving too big of a carbon footprint. So as part of the Green Cincinnati Plan to make the city more environmentally friendly, proponents want you to at least think about choosing fruits and vegetables more, meat less.

"Nobody wants Jeff Ruby to have to take out an ad that says, 'Why are you hurting my restaurant?' " said Daniel Oerther, chairman of the University of Cincinnati's environmental engineering department who leads the city's food task force."

The suggestions laid out in the Action Plan are reasonable, even in a city as meat-centric as Cincinnati. But the Enquirer's comments section provides us the entertainment. To witless:

"Global warming! In a pig's eye! Have you greenie weenie's been in a cave the last week or this winter? Don't suggest or tell me what to eat! It's none of your dam business! It's called freedom you dunder head's! So stick it where the sun don't shine!"

"What a joke. Man made global warming is a HOAX. (, has the data to show what a HOAX it is. Humans are only responsible for less then 1/10th of 1%, so any changes we make have almost no affect on the total amount of co2 in the air. This is more about control and making money then it is about saving the planet."

"how about teaching people to stop eating so much fast food and start eating a bit more healthy. Keep the theme a bit more basic. Meat is an important part of the diet for a human. We do not need to spend money on this program, nor do I need someone telling me what to eat."

"Eating all vegetables and no meat is not healthy as it is not a well balanced diet. Most vegetarians I know out there have very little muscle tone and just look plain sick. On the other hand, eating mostly meat and no vegetables is also very unhealthy. The key here is moderation. Make sure you eat a well balanced diet and there will be no problems."

"I don't trust people who don't eat meat!"

There's no point in taking the time to refute all this, but for one point: meat is not a necessary part of a human diet. Not only are vegetarian and vegan diets perfectly healthy, they're better for you than meat-based diets.

Of course, that's beside the point. What's crucial here is how the Enquirer, our terrible newspaper, angles the story: they take a single recommendation from the Action Plan and skew the story. Cincinnati won't be regulating diets; the city would undertake a relatively inexpensive ad campaign to promote a lifestyle choice that's better for individuals and for the city as a whole. But the responses online reflect paranoia about the city legislating all freedom out of their lives.*

*I'm not aware of any freedom to eat meat, but that's another issue for another post.


Randy Simes said...

I think this is a reasonable effort. By no means is this the focal point of the Climate Protection Action Plan, but it is an element in there that is meant to raise awareness.

As silly as it sounds, eating meat does require more resources and squanders much energy though the food cycle process. I don't think the masses of the Cincinnati metropolitan area will up and change to a meatless diet, but I do think this will get some more people to think about the day-to-day decisions they make that have an impact on our planet.

Sam Tie Blogger said...

I think the best thing Cincinnati could do to reduce emissions and save paper is get rid of the Enquirer, it really is the worst! Also most of us in this city can benefit from healthier eating anyhow!I think its a small part of an overall great idea. Leave it to Cincinnati to take offense to it.