February 11, 2009

Cincinnati Enquirer Via email

To the editor:

I am disappointed that Cincinnati City Council would consider mandating that all local residents eat meat one fewer day a week by 2012 as part of the Green Cincinnati Plan ("Cincy wants you to eat less meat," February 2, 2009).

While I applaud the efforts of the Plan's Task Force to decrease consumers' carbon footprint, the plan greatly exaggerates the environmental effects of raising food animals. Data reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 shows that production of food animals in the U.S. contributes less than 2.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Livestock farmers in Ohio for generations have followed best practices for maintaining water, soil and air quality. In fact, conserving natural resources and protecting the environment is critical for the survival of their family farms. Livestock farming plays an important role in recycling. Cattle, pigs and poultry consume byproducts that would otherwise be put in landfills and would create methane emissions. Further, manure is used as an excellent natural fertilizer for grain crops.

The article's suggestion that reducing the consumption of meat once a week will decrease the carbon footprint is a fallacy. The proposal also disregards the equally important contributions the state's meat industry makes in providing fresh, safe, affordable food for Ohioans and providing thousands of jobs in Ohio.

Eating less meat will not solve the greenhouse gas problem, but rather will negatively affect our diet quality by restricting an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals like zinc, B12 and iron. That's particularly important when consideration is being given to reducing the amount of good protein kids get in school lunches. Environmentally conscious consumers should continue to serve and eat meat with confidence, knowing they are doing the right thing for their bodies and the environment.

Sandy Kuhn
Ohio Livestock Coalition Executive Director
(614) 246-8288