Africa / Agriculture / Animal Production / Climate Change / Crop-Livestock / Environment / ILRI / Livestock Systems / Poultry

Turkeys and spinach: Green foodies beware–the foods in our food systems are not always what they seem


Seen at the Barrington Living History Farm (USA), this is most likely a Black-Spanish turkey, which was a common breed in the 19th century (photo credit: Big Grey Mare’s Photostream on Flickr / Carol Von Canon).

Agricultural systems analyst Philip Thornton, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), was interviewed last week by the American radio station PBS on livestock and other matters of the moment in public ‘food systems’ discourse around American Thanksgiving Day. Here is a description of the resulting, interesting, podcast.

‘With Thanksgiving approaching and Christmas just around the corner, we here at the [PBS] Climate Desk thought it would be a good time to take a hard look at how our food system is effecting the climate, and how climate change might impact the future of food.

‘What we found was a lot more complicated than we imagined. Counterintuitive even.

‘Would you ever have guessed, for example, that spinach is as bad for the planet as beef? It all depends on how you measure, of course, but one of our guests, geophysicist Gidon Eshel, says it might be. Or that global warming might actually be good for agriculture? NASA agronomist Cynthia Rosenzweig says that, at least in the short term, that’ll be the case.

‘We also spoke with bestselling author Anna Lappé, agricultural analyst Philip Thorton, and Tara Oresick, the manager of Farm Sanctuary, an animal rights organization that conducts an annual adopt-a-turkey drive every Thanksgiving.’

Listen to the podcast at PBS ‘Need to Know’ program: Turkey can be climate friendly; spinach, not so much, 24 November 2010

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