I was kind of shocked and disappointed to see so much material in your winter 1999 [25:1] issue on food (three articles as part of your cover story), but so little on the negative environmental and health consequences of eating meat.
In fact, on page 15, in one of the few discussions of animals, Jy Chiperzak complains that "Plymouth Barred Rock chickens can no longer be found in any restaurant or food mart in North America" -- as if that was a bad thing, in and of itself!
Barred rock chickens' biodiversity can and should be preserved without their subsequent destruction.
The global health and environmental consequences of meat consumption are surely comparable to the concerns related to biodiversity.
While pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables was discussed at length, no mention was made of the considerable concentration of pesticides in animal products, and, consequently, their consumers.
In "Alberta's Magazine on the Environment," En Compass better addresses the significant "environmental impact of our [all-too-meaty] dietary choices" in "Thought for Food: An Essential Environmental Consideration" (June/July 1999).
Even Time magazine recently ran an article on meat's devastating effects to the environment and human health (Canadian special edition, November 8, pp. 70-74).
In fact, in "Will We Still Eat Meat?" author Ed Ayres of the Worldwatch Institute answers "no[t,] if we wake up to what the mass production of animal flesh is doing to our health -- and the planet's."
For example, he stated: "Pass up one hamburger, and you'll save as much water as you save by taking 40 showers." Swallow that!
For a magazine that claims in its title to address "alternatives," this journal sadly missed the target, allowing the traditional mainstream media to cover the real and important news issues facing us today.
To solve these problems that face us, let us resolve to not eat anything that had a face.
--Nathan Braun, president
Christian Vegetarian Association
I just got the Winter 2000 issue of Alternatives. Congratulations -- it is a superb issue. The articles on "The Next Industrial Revolution" are very important. I was gladly surprised by them, since I have been reading Paul Hawken's new book Natural Capitalism, as well as The Natural Step, Our Ecological Footprint, and others, all related with the topic of sustainable development. I think sustainable development is one of the most important, actually, crucial, factors for the survival of our environment in this new and dreadful century. I hope your magazine gives much more emphasis to this topic, for instance by having a "permanent section" in every issue.
For starters, you could begin writing a good article on the concepts from Natural Capitalism. That, in my humble opinion, is already a classic. To be perfectly honest, I was not planning to renew my subscription, but this issue will probably change my decision.
--Norberto Rodriguez dela Vega
Re: "Listen to Your Mother: Applying Insights from Nature is One Way to Green the Construction Industry" (26:1, Winter 2000).
Congratulations on the catchy title: it made this reader read on with eager anticipation to see how the authors would make use of its central metaphor. Thought maybe I'd read something like: Didn't your mother always tell you to "waste not, want not?" Or how about "you can't have any pudding if you don't [clean up your mess]!" Mothers do give us such good advice about things that we really ought to apply to our interactions with nature, don't they? But wait a minute[ldots] the authors don't even mention their mothers, let alone their sage (if sometimes naggingly given) advice! They mean Nature -- listen to your Mother Nature. And just what does "she" say?
At the dawn of the 21st century isn't it time for environmentalists to stop reifying, feminizing, and maternalizing the planet? Or maybe seeking psychoanalysis should top the new year's resolution lists of greens everywhere.
"The Earth is Not Your Mother" -- Joni Seager, 1993.
-- Sherilyn MacGregor, doctoral candidate Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University