'Meatless Monday' helps lead to global food security

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26 2012 4:38 p.m. MDT

The kids pick up their trays from the servers during lunch time. Students at Monroe Elementary in West Valley eat a meatless lunch Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. The Granite district is instituting meatless mondays to show that you can have a healthy meal without using meat.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

When dealing with global issues like food insecurity, it is easy to feel like nothing we do makes a difference. However, Food Transformation, a new report from Oxfam's Grow Campaign, suggests the everyday decisions families make about what to eat and how to cook go a long way to addressing this issue.

Eating less meat is one way families can contribute to global food security, according to the report. Meat production accounts for eight percent of the world’s water use, according to a study by researchers in the Netherlands. If a family of four substituted lentil burgers for beef burgers for just one night, they would save the equivalent of 17 bathtubs full of water.

"That is a small change with a powerful impact," said Sarah Kalloach on her Oxfam affiliated blog The Politics of Poverty.

Another way families can have an impact is by modifying the way they cook certain foods. Smart cooking techniques can reduce energy consumption by up to 70 percent. For example, when cooking vegetables, the report suggests covering them with a small amount of water, putting a lid on the pan, and reducing the heat as soon as the water begins to boil. It also suggests that when cooking pasta, one shouldn't boil a whole stockpot of water if a saucepan will suffice.

While these steps seem simple and straightforward, nothing is easy when it comes to the politics of the plate, Kalloach wrote. The USDA's suggestion that employees participate in Meatless Monday was met with political outrage. The meat industry issued angry press releases and Republicans in congress sent angry tweets. The response prompted a USDA spokeswoman to announce the agency does not endorse "Meatless Monday" and that the initiative was posted to the agency website without proper clearance.

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