I thought I was reading the “Asheville Disclaimer” page of the Mountain Xpress when I saw the headline “Local BBQ Fest Wins Unlikely National Kudos for Environmentalism” [“Chew on This,” June 6]. It’s great that the Blue Ridge BBQ festival is composting, recycling and taking the (gasp!) radical step of eliminating moist towelettes, but environmentalism it’s not. What’s next—giving the Hummer division of General Motors an environmental award if they recycle old vehicles or use nontoxic paint?
North Carolina is home to more pigs than humans. Most of the people use waste-disposal systems, but the pigs do not. Much of their excrement is kept in enormous open-air cesspools that are prone to leaks and spills, especially after heavy rains. One particular spill sent 25 million gallons of manure into the New River, killing 10 million fish (as cited in both Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council materials). The fecal pollution created by this industry has not just contaminated waterways; it has also fouled the air and tainted ground water in much of the state.
It’s not just pig farming that destroys the earth, and there’s more to the problem of animal agriculture than waste disposal. Last year the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that adopting a plant-based diet does more to reduce global warming than switching from a gas guzzler to a Toyota Prius. The evidence linking animal agriculture to a myriad of environmental problems is overwhelming. Visit www.GoVeg.com/eco to learn more.
Festival public-relations director Brenda Bradshaw was quoted as saying, “You don’t think about barbecue folks being green-minded, but you give people the chance to do the right thing, and they do it.” OK, folks, here’s your chance. Visit www.VegCooking.com for great vegetarian recipes, BBQ and otherwise, and tips to get you started on a healthy, humane and environmentally friendly diet.
— Stewart David