Green barbecue?

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 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 for great vegetarian recipes, BBQ and otherwise, and tips to get you started on a healthy, humane and environmentally friendly diet.

— Stewart David

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10 thoughts on “Green barbecue?

  1. mtndow

    There’s this week’s PETA chain letter.
    Can we get the Editor-N-Chef to put these in the Religion and Church Notes section?

  2. Never mind that, can we get Stewart some delicious brisket.

    I’m all for being humane to animals, but once you go to a pig farm, you’ll realize that they deserve to be shot with a compressed air gun, butchered, smoked over a grill, and doused with delicious barbeque sauce.

    Mmmm, barbeque sauce.

  3. silverman

    i guess by not eating meat or dairy, you become transformed into a whiny dork who thinks everyone should be just like you?

  4. We can give up a lot to save the Earth but NOT pit-cooked pork barbecue!

    It’s just not worth it. Get your priorities straight and your eating right.

    Keep on a pickin’ them pigs. ;-)

  5. Jeff Fobes

    Sure, many are tired of the seemingly relentless stream of letters by the in-your-face S. David. And sure, his viewpoint is preachy and judgmental.

    Some would say he brings down the invectives upon himself.

    But this letter provides a yet-to-be-considered concept: Environmental protection means less meat consumption, because of its environmental footprint — in the air, on the ground and in the water.

    Troubling thought. Is it right?

    If the fate of the earth is in our hands, it would be wiser respond to the idea rather than beating up on the author.

  6. Here in the South, barbecue is sacred. Please stop insulting our religion. There are less intrusive ways to save the world.

    And a world without barbecue would be a pointless exercise anyway.

  7. mtndow

    Ok. Thanks. Looks like we have some interest in A religion page. You guys watch out for this weeks PETA-file. I gotta go find a job.

  8. Johnny

    Jeff, you wrote:

    “But this letter provides a yet-to-be-considered concept: Environmental protection means less meat consumption, because of its environmental footprint—in the air, on the ground and in the water.”

    Hardly yet to be considered. It’s been considered at length. It’s a great topic.

    A cow eating grass on a hillside in NC, when managed sustainably, does not require the transport over thousands of highway miles to and from feedlots and grocery stores, nor the other major petrochemical inputs modern farming needs. The needs are little more than grass and water.

    Eating less industrial meat is surely good for the environment. Eating LOCALLY raised protein sources, if one is unwilling to hunt for them, is also good for the environment. Or, at least it CAN be. Studies comparing industrial production methods of animal raising to a plant-based diet (from both an energetic and food quality perspective) fail to truly compare the calories/joules/whatever of grass-fed beef to the costs of growing and trucking plant-based proteins all across the country.

    Yes, it’s an interesting topic. No doubt about it.


  9. katie


    Yes, of course, animals raised locally on hillsides do less damage than industrial raised animals. But with 300 million people in America and 6.5 billion worldwide, it’s impossible for the idyllic situations you tout to produce any meaningful amount of meat. We’d have to clear millions of acres for grazing, etc. That’s hardly an environmental approach, nor is it anything I’d call sustainable. Well over 95% of the meat consumed in America comes from factory farms. You are not seriously addressing how it would be possible for the entire country to eat locally produced, organically raised meat given our consumption of 200 lbs of the stuff per person each year.

    Part of it, of course, rests with class assumptions. Organic, free range meat is going to be more expensive, not least because it is actually properly costed. That means the wealthier will buy it. What about the poor? Is it factory farmed meat in perpetuity for them?

    If we switch to small farms for our meat, there’ll need to be a whole lot more vegetarians around so that the meat-eaters can eat their animals with a clean conscience.

    When will we learn limits before the planet gives us the ultimate lessons in our and its limits? When we will wean ourselves off this compulsion to eat animals or to demand fifteen different strains of apple in our superstores? I’m all for abundance and pleasure, but this is madness. So, let’s step up, and not pass the buck. I’ll be the vegetarian. I’ll be the supporter of the local Community Supported Agriculture. What about you?

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