Ecosocialist resources, 20

Still more noteworthy articles, reports, and talks that are relevant to Climate & Capitalism’s mission and goals. 

Socialism for the 21st century — re-inventing and renewing the struggle
Michael Lebowitz

Watermelons or tomatoes? Social democracy, class and the Australian Greens
Nick Fredman

Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?
Joanna Blythman

By the numbers: Analyzing the U.S. National Climate Assessment
Kelly Levin
WRI Insights

A rebuttal to Mark Lynas’ GMO reversal
Jason Mark
Earth Island Journal

Oil sands raise levels of cancer-causing compounds in regional waters
David Biello
Scientific American

Click here for links to all Ecosocialist Resources columns

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Jeff White
3 years 3 months ago

Ricardo, PETA’s moralistic response is completely devoid of any class perspective or recognition that the way food is produced is a social and political issue. Instead, it relies on the wastefulness and overconsumption inherent in capitalist forms of agriculture and food production as arguments that certain foods should never be eaten at all.

By their logic, we should not eat rice, because its production consumes vast quantities of water and produces up to 19% of the world’s methane emissions. By their logic, we should not eat corn, because its production is so wasteful of resources. By their logic, we should not eat any agricultural crops at all, because 70% of all our water use is for irrigation, and industrial agriculture uses megatonnes of pesticides and fossil-fuel based fertilizers.

Quinoa is far from being the only crop that carries “unpalatable truths” about the colonialist appropriation of food by imperialist countries in the era of “free trade” agreements. And the fact is that industrialized crop production, under capitalism, is no less cruel and unsustainable than meat and fish production. Instead of pitting vegetarians against meat-eaters we should be uniting them in struggle to revolutionize the world’s systems of food production and distribution.

Ricardo Coelho
3 years 3 months ago
I agree with you until the last point. What I wanted to emphasize is that the Guardian article, instead of analyzing the political economy of quinoa and other imported cereals and how capitalist globalization drives food away from the plates of the poor, points the finger at vegetarians as the ones to blame for the rising quinoa prices. This is vegaphobia at its worst and a dangerous distraction. I disagree with you when you say that “industrialized crop production, under capitalism, is no less cruel and unsustainable than meat and fish production.” I think the fact is that meat-based diets are less sustainable than plant-based diets and you just have to compare the data available on land, water and energy use to realize that it makes sense to eat vegetable products instead of eating meat from animals that ate vegetable products. In fact, nowadays no one denies, I think, that high and rising levels of meat consumption is a problem. This, for me, stands even after considering how meat consumption follows class inequalities and how different modes of meat production have different environmental impacts. I’m not interested in pitting vegans against meat-eaters. I’m interested in having a system of food… Read more »
Jeff White
3 years 3 months ago
It seems we don’t like each other’s last paragraphs. I was primarily objecting to your last paragraph’s characterization of PETA’s Guardian article as “spot on”. I thought it was anything but, for the reasons I indicated. But now it seems I must widen my objections. The original Guardian article by Joanna Blythman does not purport to blame vegans for rising quinoa prices. While the headline writer provocatively mentions vegans, Blythman mentions them – last – among a list of categories of people who have taken a shine to quinoa: “food lovers…dieticians…adventurous eaters…vegans”. Far from singling out vegans as culprits, Blythman merely notes that “well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here [in the global North] [are] unwittingly driving poverty there [in the global South].” I see little to object to in that. It’s certainly not “vegaphobia at its worst”. I don’t particularly want to eat the vegetable matter that is currently fed to cattle and pigs. So for me it doesn’t “make sense” to eat that vegetable matter in preference to the meat from animals that do eat it. Livestock can turn undigestible and unpalatable vegetable matter into nutritious, protein-rich meat. You assert (questionably, in my opinion) that vegetable products are a… Read more »
Ricardo Coelho
3 years 3 months ago

On the Quinoa-gate:
Blaming vegans for taking the quinoa away from the plate of poor peruvians is ludicrous. It should be self-evident that vegans are not the only consumers of quinoa. The notion that buying imported “health foods” usually hurts the local people where these foods are produced is true, but the reference to veganism is misplaced at best.
The intentions of the article become even clearer when the reporter claims that meat-eaters can be environmentally friendly because they can eat locally grown meat, while vegans eat imported soy. As if meat is not produced with cattle fed on soy. As if a vegan diet is inherently more dependent on imported food than a meat-eater diet. As if almost all soy production in the world is not used to feed cattle.
While I particularly dislike Peta for giving veganism and animal liberation a bad name, I have to recommend their reply, which is spot on: