Monday, January 28, 2008

Now it's personal.....

I have some personal afflictions that seem to contradict themselves. I really enjoy reading personal finance blogs and I am impressed by some of the wisdom that many have to offer. There are strong linkages between the personal finance movement, the voluntary simplicity movement and the environmental movement. My other affliction is my absolute love of food. I am always amazed by the sheer innovation in how simple ingredients can be combined to create phenomenal taste sensations. It's amazing when all my interests converge.

The first article concerns a sample of tuna in NYC Sushi restaurants that revealed excessive concentrations of mercury in sushi. Sushi is probably the reason that I cannot go deeply vegetarian. I really have to say O-Toro is as close to heaven that I will get while living, or for that matter ever. The fact that my indulgence in sushi might be jeopardizing my health makes it personal. I find it interesting that the people most afflicted with high mercury levels in their blood were the following:

The report found especially high levels among Asian New Yorkers, especially foreign-born Chinese, and people with high incomes. The report noted that Asians tend to eat more seafood, and it speculated that wealthier people favored fish, like swordfish and bluefin tuna, that happen to have higher mercury levels.

When you start getting personal with people with people with high incomes, change is sure to come.

As a personal aside, I try not to eat too much meat, and I don't consume beef. One of the reasons is that beef is incredibly inefficient, the amount of wheat needed to raise a cow is mind boggling, now this is old hat if you remember Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet you understand what the impact of beef is on the planet. Well the New York Times reminds us about a how the impact of a meat guzzling lifestyle in this article. Meat basically takes a lot of energy, it rides high on the food chain and it hoovers everything in it's path. The Times article illustrates the impact powerfully:

To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius.

Our most cherished notions of sustenance are being challenged, we pollute what is scarce and valuable and we demand more but get less. Food if life, it's time to respect it as such and not just something to measure numerically. I remember one time I ate a piece of leather that proclaimed to be grilled pork at a restaurant, and I remarked to my dining companion that something died for this meal and the least we could have was honor it by cooking it properly. Sadly I let it go to waste as it was inedible. If we want meat we should emphasize quality of experience not quantity.


At 6:34 AM , Anonymous Kenny F said...

Charles, I read that article (Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler) on the NY Times and came here to see if you had mentioned it. You did.

Odd that almost nobody would recommend operating this inefficiently with their personal or business finances, but don't think twice about it with the world's resources.

At 7:04 AM , Blogger Theoretical Ken said...

Well, I know this is the second NY Times article mention in a row, but did you see this today?

Gluttonous Rite Survives Without Silverware


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