Americans will eat record 1.42 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl LV: report

23 hours ago

Chicken wing sales at supermarkets during the pandemic totaled nearly $3 billion, up 10.3% from 2019

By Jeanette Settembre | Fox News


Tampa man has never missed a Super Bowl

Americans are winging it this Super Bowl season.

Consumers will devour a record 1.42 billion wings during Super Bowl weekend, according to the National Chicken Council’s annual wing report. 

Americans will eat more than 1 billion chicken wings this year ahead of the big game. 

Americans will eat more than 1 billion chicken wings this year ahead of the big game.  (Buffalo Wild Wings)


“Chicken production remained steady in 2020, and as long as people are sitting around watching TV and maybe drinking a beer, wings will remain in the game,” National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super said in a statement on the news. 

The big game pitting the Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is an especially important food holiday this year, as fans stay home and crave comfort foods, perhaps delivered from favorite bars and restaurants.

What’s more, total chicken wing sales at supermarkets during the pandemic totaled nearly $3 billion, up 10.3% from last year. Possibly driven by the air fryer craze, sales of in-store frozen wings shot up 37.2%, according to the latest statistics from Information Resources Inc.

More fast-food chains are catering to the demand with Super Bowl focused food promotions, too. Buffalo Wild Wings has announced it would serve free wings if the big game goes into overtime, while Applebee’s has promised to give away 1.6 million boneless chicken wings (at 40 wings per order) to anyone who orders $40 worth of delivery or take out.


“Restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, so they didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic. Wings travel well and hold up during delivery conditions,” Super said.

Indeed, despite the challenges restaurants faced during nationwide shutdowns and indoor dining closures, restaurants serving chicken wings, in particular, saw 7% growth in 2020 compared with 2019, despite an 11% dip in indoor dining over the same period, according to data from market research firm NPD Group. 

Coronavirus closures reveal vast scale of China’s secretive wildlife farm industry

Peacocks, porcupines and pangolins among species bred on 20,000 farms closed in wake of virus

Freshly-slaughtered meat from wildlife and farm animals is preferred over meat that has been slaughtered before being shipped.
 Freshly-slaughtered meat from wildlife and farm animals is preferred over meat that has been slaughtered before being shipped. Photograph: Visual China Group/Getty

Nearly 20,000 wildlife farms raising species including peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, wild geese and boar have been shut down across China in the wake of the coronavirus, in a move that has exposed the hitherto unknown size of the industry.

Until a few weeks ago wildlife farming was still being promoted by government agencies as an easy way for rural Chinese people to get rich.

But the Covid-19 outbreak, which has now led to 2,666 deaths and over 77,700 known infections, is thought to have originated in wildlife sold at a market in Wuhan in early December, prompting a massive rethink by authorities on how to manage the trade.

China issued a temporary ban on wildlife trade to curb the spread of the virus at the end of January and began a widespread crackdown on breeding facilities in early February.

The country’s top legislative officials are now rushing to amend the country’s wildlife protection law and possibly restructure regulations on the use of wildlife for food and traditional Chinese medicine.

The current version of the law is seen as problematic by wildlife conservation groups because it focuses on utilisation of wildlife rather than its protection.

“The coronavirus epidemic is swiftly pushing China to reevaluate its relationship with wildlife,” Steve Blake, chief representative of WildAid in Beijing, told the Guardian. “There is a high level of risk from this scale of breeding operations both to human health and to the impacts on populations of these animals in the wild.”

The National People’s Congress released new measures on Monday restricting wildlife trade, banning consumption of bushmeat and sales of wildlife for meat consumption at wet markets between now and the time the Wildlife Protection Law can be amended and adopted. Untouched however, are breeding operations for traditional Chinese medicine, fur and leather, lucrative markets known to drive illegal poaching of animals including tigers and pangolins.

For the past few years China’s leadership has pushed the idea that “wildlife domestication” should be a key part of rural development, eco-tourism and poverty alleviation. A 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering on the development of the wildlife farming industry valued the wildlife-farming industry those operations at 520bn yuan, or £57bn.

A civet cat is inspected on 10 November 2004 at a farm in Lu’an, China
 Civet cats – thought to be potential carriers of Sars – are among the animals farmed for meat in China. Photograph: China Photos/Getty

Just weeks before the outbreak, China’s State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA) was still actively encouraging citizens to get into farming wildlife such as civet cats – a species pinpointed as a carrier of Sars, a disease similar to Covid-19. The SFGA regulates both farming and trade in terrestrial wildlife, and quotas of wildlife products – such as pangolin scales – allowed to be used by the Chinese medicine industry.

“Why are civet cats still encouraged to [be eaten] after the Sars outbreak in 2003? It’s because the hunters, operators, practitioners need that. How can they achieve that? They urged the government to support them under the pretext of economic development,” Jinfeng Zhou, secretary-general of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), told the Guardian.

On state TV the popular series Secrets of Getting Rich, which has aired since 2001, often touts these kinds of breeding operations – bamboo rats, snakes, toads, porcupines and squirrels have all had starring roles.

But little was known about the scale of the wildlife farm industry before the coronavirus outbreak, with licensing mainly regulated by provincial and local-level forestry bureaus that do not divulge full information about the breeding operations under their watch. A report from state-run Xinhua news agency on 17 February revealed that from 2005–2013 the forestry administration only issued 3,725 breeding and operation licenses at the national level.

But since the outbreak at least 19,000 farms have been shut down around the country, including about 4,600 in Jilin province, a major centre for traditional Chinese medicine. About 3,900 wildlife-farming operations were shuttered in Hunan province, 2,900 in Sichuan, 2,300 in Yunnan, 2,000 in Liaoning, and 1,000 in Shaanxi.

Rats bred in Qinzhou, China, 24 July, 2019
 Breeding of animals such as rats has been seen as central to alleviating poverty in rural areas. Photograph: Zhang Ailin/Alamy

There is little detail available about the animals farmed across China, but local press reports mention civet cats, bamboo rats, ostriches, wild boar, sika deer, foxes, ostriches, blue peacocks, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, wild geese, mallard ducks, red-billed geese, pigeons, and ring-necked pheasants.

Neither do reports offer much detail about the shutdowns and what is happening to the animals, although Blake said he does not think animals are being culled, due to issues over compensation.

Chen Hong, a peacock farmer in Liuyang, Hunan, said she is concerned about her losses and whether she will get compensation after her operations were suspended on 24 January.

“We now aren’t allowed to sell the animals, transport them, or let anyone near them, and we have to sanitise the facility once every day,” Chen said. “Usually this time of year would see our farm bustling with clients and visitors. We haven’t received notice on what to do yet, and the peacocks are still here, and we probably won’t know what to do with [them] until after the outbreak is contained.

“We’re very worried about the farm’s future,” she added. “The shutdown has resulted in a loss of 400,000–500,000 yuan (£44,000–55,000) in sales, and if they decide to put an outright ban on raising peacocks, we’ll lose even more, at least a million yuan(£110,000).”

Live peacocks wrapped up in plastic bags, in Xiangyang, China
 Peacock breeders use plastic bags to wrap up the birds in transit to stop their feathers falling off. Photograph: Visual China Group/Getty

On a visit to Shaoguan, Guangdong province, last year, the Guardian and staff from CBCGDF saw a caged facility previously used for attempted breeding of the notoriously hard-to-breed pangolin.

While there were no longer pangolin at the site, several locals near the facility confirmed the species had been raised there, along with monkeys and other wildlife.

Besides being used for Chinese medicine, much of the meat from the wildlife trade is sold through online platforms or to “wet markets” like the one where the Covid-19 outbreak is thought to have started in Wuhan.

“All animals or their body parts for human consumption are supposed to go through food and health checks, but I don’t think the sellers ever bothered,” said Deborah Cao, a professor at Griffith University in Australia and an expert on animal protection in China. “Most of them [have been] sold without such health checks.”

There have been calls for a deep regulatory overhaul to remove the conflicting duties of the forestry administration, and for a shift in government mindset away from promoting the utilisation of wildlife and towards its protection.

Fox cubs in cages at a farm which breeds animals for fur in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province
 Zhangjiakou city has more than 1,500 firms processing furs from animals including foxes and racoons. Photograph: Greg Baker/Getty

“The ‘referee-player’ combination needs to be addressed and is the toughest [challenge],” Li Shuo, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia told the Guardian. “This goes back to the institutional identity [of the SFGA] which was established to oversee timber production. Protection was an afterthought.”

There are concerns that in trying to prevent outbreaks authorities may go too far in the culling of wild animals that can carry disease.

“Some law professors have suggested ‘ecological killing’ of disease-transmitting wild animals, such as pangolins, hedgehogs, bats, snakes, and some insects,” Zhou said. “We believe lawmakers need to learn [more about] biodiversity before advising on the revisions to the law, or they’ll bring disaster.”

Additional research and reporting assistance provided by Jonathan Zhong.

Eating meat has ‘dire’ consequences for the planet, says report

Using hand tools and draft animals, a family harvests wheat in Ethiopia’s famine-prone highlands.

To feed a growing global population and curtail climate change, scientists say we need to radically change our food systems.

THERE’S AN ENTIRE industry built around dieting. Most of its products are intended to help people lose weight, gain muscle, or live longer.

But as the global human population steadily climbs, scientists are scrambling to devise a diet plan that can feed 10 billion people by 2050.

A new report, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, claims to do just that. It recommends a largely plant-based diet, with small, occasional allowances for meat, dairy, and sugar. The report was compiled by a group of 30 scientists from around the world who study nutrition or food policy. For three years, they deliberated with the intent of creating recommendations that could be adopted by governments to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population.

“Even small increases in the consumption of red meat or dairy foods would make this goal difficult or impossible to achieve,” a summary of the report states.

The report’s authors reached their conclusions by weighing different side-effects of food production. They included greenhouse gases, water and crop use, nitrogen or phosphorous from fertilizers, and the potential for biodiversity to take a hit should a region be converted into farmland. By managing all these factors, the report’s authors say climate change-inducing gases could be reduced and enough land could be reserved to feed the world’s growing population.

Under the report’s conclusions, meat and sugar consumption around the world should drop by 50 percent. Who eats less meat and where will vary, says Jessica Fanzo, a report author and professor of food policy and ethics at Johns Hopkins University. Meat consumption in the U.S., for instance, would have to go down and be replaced by fruits and vegetables. But other countries already facing poor nutrition could incorporate meat into roughly three percent of their diet.

“We’ll be in dire straits,” if no action is taken, says Fanzo.

Following a vegan trend

Recommendations to scale back meat consumption aren’t new. Just this past October, a study published in the journal Nature set similar guidelines for reducing meat and sugar consumption.

What’s different about this new report, says Fanzo, are the steps outlined to put such a change into place.

Branded what the authors call a “Great Food Transformation,” it outlines strategies that range from the least active, simply sharing information, to the most aggressive, eliminating consumer choice.

“I think it’s hard for people on a daily basis because the incentives and political structures that are in place don’t make it so easy,” says Fanzo. Shifting what sort of agricultural practices receive subsidies is one tactic for overhauling the food system, the report outlines. That would change the relative prices of foods, and thus build in consumer incentives.

Whether a plan like this could actually grow legs around the world is a different story, says Fanzo.

“With the current [presidential] administration, I just don’t think anything is going to move,” she notes.

Greg Miller is the chief science officer for the U.S. National Dairy Council. In addition to citing health benefits of milk like calcium and vitamin D, he cautions against transforming America’s food landscape.

“You have a million people whose lives depend on dairy,” Miller says of those who work on farms or are otherwise employed by the dairy industry.

“We could get there with the right incentives and the right policies,” Miller says of making dairy farming more sustainable. “Subsidies are needed for better technology right now. [Small-scale farmers] don’t have additional income to do some of the things that could be done.”

Better breeding has created cows that are capable of producing more milk for instance, and better tracking systems can monitor an animal’s food intake and activity.

Lingering emissions debates

Not all experts are convinced that plant-based diets are a food security panacea. Frank Mitloehner, an animal scientist from the University of California, Davis has been vocal about his view that meat has been disproportionately linked to climate change emissions.

A Texas butcher chops a side of beef into various cuts.


“What concerns me the most is that, while livestock has an impact, the report makes it sound as if it was the leading source of the impacts. By far the use of fossil fuels are the leading source of carbon emissions,” says Mitloehner.

According to the EPA, burning fossil fuels for industry, electricity, and transportation comprises the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is nine percent of emissions and livestock roughly four percent of that.

Mitloehner also disagrees with the method used by the council to determine the amount of greenhouse gases produced by livestock, saying too much weight was given to methane during calculations. Compared to carbon, methane stays in the atmosphere for a relatively short amount of time. Scientists debate how long exactly, but studies have shown methane plays a large roll in warming oceans.

Reducing food waste 

Though the report’s dietary guidelines are receiving criticism, its push to reduce food wasteis being more widely received. In the U.S. alone, nearly30 percentof all food is wasted.

Strategies to reduce waste are outlined for both consumers and producers in the report. Better storage technology and contamination spotting could help businesses reduce the amount of food that’s thrown out, but educating consumers is also touted as an effective strategy.

It’s a daunting prospect for many—changing eating habits and reducing food waste. But Kathryn Kellogg, author of the book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, says she gets by with just $250 a month.

“There’s so many creative ways to use our food to prevent waste, and I feel like most people just don’t know about them,” she says. She cites knowing how to cook each part of a vegetable and being constantly aware of the food in her fridge as some of her most effective habits. (Learn more about so-called zero-waste families.)

Kellogg, however, lives in California near neighborhoods with accessible farmers markets. For other communities living in so-called food deserts—regions where grocery stores or markets aren’t readily available—accessing fresh fruits and vegetables can be more difficult.

“All the actions we recommend are available now,” says Fanzo. “They’re not ‘pie in the sky’ future technologies. They’re just not done at a large scale.”

The report’s commissioners will hold launch events in more than 30 countries around the world starting Thursday. They plan to appeal to international organizations like the U.N. as potential enforcers of their new guidelines.

More than 164,000 pounds of ground turkey recalled; 52 more people sick in deadly salmonella outbreak

Salmonella 101: What you need to know


Salmonella 101: What you need to know


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Salmonella 101: What you need to know 01:07

(CNN)Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales Inc. is recalling about 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey products due to the possibility of salmonella contamination, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Friday.

The recall was announced as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 52 new cases of illness associated with the outbreak. This brings the number of illnesses to 216 people across 38 states since the outbreak began in November 2017. Eighty-four people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported.
In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday there have been 22 cases of illness in four provinces. The illnesses occurred between April 2017 and this November, but nearly half of the illnesses began in October and last month. Five patients have been hospitalized, and one person died.
Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales Inc. recalled 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey products.

“Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to raw turkey and raw chicken products has been identified as the likely source of the outbreak,” a public health notice from the agency said. “Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating different types of turkey and chicken products before their illnesses occurred.”
According to the CDC, the cases in Canada have the same strain of salmonella as those in the US outbreak.
Health investigators have identified the outbreak strain of salmonella in samples of raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products and live turkeys, the CDC said.
The recalled raw ground turkey products were produced at Jennie-O’s Faribault, Minnesota, facility between October 22 and October 23. The recalled packages are marked on the side with establishment number P-579 and were sold in 1-pound, 2.5-pound and 3-pound packages.
On November 15, the company issued a recall of more than 91,000 pounds of raw ground turkey products from its Barron, Wisconsin, facility.
Patients who were interviewed by outbreak investigators reported buying a variety of different brands of raw turkey products from many different stores. “A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified that could account for the whole outbreak,” the CDC said. And the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service noted that additional recalls may be announced for products from other companies.
The investigation is ongoing. “The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading is present in live turkeys and in many types of raw turkey products, indicating it might be widespread in the turkey industry,” the CDC said, adding that it and the Food Safety and Inspection Service “have shared this information with representatives from the turkey industry and asked about steps that they may be taking to reduce Salmonella contamination.”
Steve Lykken, Jennie-O Turkey Store’s president, said the company has made operational changes, including vaccinating turkeys to protect them from salmonella. He called it a much wider problem across the industry, even without the ongoing outbreak. “We know the issue of salmonella isn’t specific to us,” he said.
State health officials in Arizona and Michigan identified salmonella bacteria in unopened packages of Jennie-O ground turkey from the homes of two patients with salmonella illness. This bacteria was “closely related genetically” to the bacteria from the patients. “This result provides more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating turkey,” the CDC said.
Lykken said, “As always, turkey remains safe to consume when handled and prepared properly. Jennie-O has information available on its website with step-by-step instructions on how to safely prepare and enjoy turkey.”
In the meantime, consumers should not eat any recalled products and should take steps to prevent salmonella illness. That includes washing hands and thoroughly cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured by a food thermometer. Washing raw turkey is not recommended because it can spread germs. And pet owners should not feed raw food, including turkey, to pets — the investigation for this outbreak identified three infected patients who live in homes where pets were fed raw turkey pet food.
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Salmonella is to blame for 1 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States every year, according to the CDC.
Symptoms usually begin 12 to 72 hours after consuming the bacteria and can last four to seven days. They include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, according to the CDC. Most people recover on their own. Patients who experience severe diarrhea may require hospitalization. If severely ill patients are not treated, the illness can be deadly.

Mass wildlife loss caused by human consumption

Media captionIs your food destroying Brazil’s savanna?

“Exploding human consumption” has caused a massive drop in global wildlife populations in recent decades, the WWF conservation group says.

In a report, the charity says losses in vertebrate species – mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles – averaged 60% between 1970 and 2014.

“Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” the WWF’s Living Planet Report adds.

It urges policy makers to set new targets for sustainable development.

The Living Planet Report, published every two years, aims to assess the state of the world’s wildlife.

The 2018 edition says only a quarter of the world’s land area is now free from the impact of human activity and the proportion will have fallen to just a 10th by 2050.

The change is being driven by ever-rising food production and increased demand for energy, land and water.

Map showing human consumption per country as measured in global hectares
Presentational white space

Although forest loss has been slowed by reforestation in some regions in recent decades, the loss has “accelerated in tropical forests that contain some of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth”, the report notes.

It says South and Central America suffered the most dramatic decline in vertebrate populations – an 89% loss in vertebrate populations compared with 1970.

Marine freshwater species are particularly at risk, the report says. Plastic pollution has been detected in the deepest parts of the word’s oceans, including the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific.

Freshwater species – living in lakes, rivers and wetlands – have seen an 83% decline in numbers since since 1970, according to the report.

Media captionThe Truth Behind My Fried Chicken

The WWF calls for “a new global deal for nature and people” similar to the 2015 Paris agreement to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Decision makers at every level need to make the right political, financial and consumer choices to achieve the vision that humanity and nature thrive in harmony on our only planet,” the report says.

The data, gathered from peer-reviewed studies, covers more than 16,700 populations belonging to 4,000 species around the world.

The WWF’s methodology has been criticised. One conservationist told the BBC in 2016 that the data in the 2016 report was skewed towards western Europe, where figures were more readily available.

Presentational grey line

What the numbers show

By Robert Cuffe, Head of Statistics, BBC News

This report shows that many species are dwindling at an alarming rate. But it doesn’t tell us that we’ve lost 60% of our wildlife.

The Living Planet Index looks at the falls in each species, rather than in the total wildlife population.

A huge percentage fall in a rare species will not make much difference to the total number of animals in the world. But it will make a difference to the average fall.

Imagine there were only two species in the world: frogs and pandas. Say that fecund frogs, whose numbers remain in the millions, see zero fall. The poor, prudish pandas whose shyness has seen their number drop from 100 to only 20 see an 80% fall.

On average, there would be an average fall in the populations of species of 40%. But the total population of animals would not be much changed.

The former is what the Living Planet Index tells us about: how much individual species are growing or shrinking.

But that is not the same as stripping 40% (or 60%) of wildlife from the planet.

Will China’s Growing Appetite for Meat Undermine Its Efforts to Fight Climate Change?
The country consumes 28 percent of the world’s meat—twice as much as the United States. And that figure is only set to increase.

A butcher in Meizhou, China (Flickr user Taro Taylor)
By Marcello Rossi, Undark Magazine

This article was originally published on Undark. Read it here.
At the center of the table in a modest, high-rise apartment in the teeming city of Shenzhen, China, a simmering pot of soup stock was surrounded by large platters featuring mushrooms, different kinds of thinly shaved meat, lettuce, potato, cauliflower, eggs, and shrimp. Folding his hands together, Jian Zhang, a onetime rural farmer who now works as an employee for a small consulting firm in the city, asked his fellow diners to give thanks for the meal — the likes of which he could have only dreamed of when growing up in a remote village in the Jiangxi province.

The reason was simple: His family was so poor that they had to make do with barely sufficient food supplies. “I often went hungry when I was a kid,” said Zhang, his voice betraying the painful memories of a hard childhood. Until the late 1980s, when the state-imposed food rationing system was phased out from people’s daily lives, food supplies were in serious shortage across China. Coupons for buying basic foodstuffs like grain, flour, rice, oil, and eggs were issued based on monthly rations.

Meat, recalled Zhang as he dipped a piece of beef into the bubbly broth, was a rare luxury that his family could afford “two or three times a month.”

Things have changed remarkably since then. In the past three decades, breakneck industrial development and economic growth have driven millions of Chinese from rural areas to cities, altering much about the Chinese way of life, especially in terms of their day-to-day eating habits — an evolution perhaps most pointedly crystallized in the average Chinese consumer’s access to meat. Once a rare luxury, it has now become a commonplace. “I still remember when beef was nicknamed the millionaire’s meat,” said Zhang, who reckoned that he spends around 600 yuan, or $88, each week on food, and half of that on meat. “Now I can eat it every day if I want.”

Fueled by rising incomes rather than urbanization, meat consumption in China grew sevenfold over the last three decades and a half. In the early 1980s, when the population was still under one billion, the average Chinese person ate around 30 pounds of meat per year. Today, with an additional 380 million people, it’s nearly 140 pounds. On the whole, the country consumes 28 percent of the world’s meat — twice as much as the United States. And the figure is only set to increase.

But as the Chinese appetite for meat expands, the booming nation is faced with a quandary: How to satisfy the surging demand for meat without undermining the country’s commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and combating global warming — goals that have been expressly incorporated into national economic, social development, and long-term planning under the Xi Jinping administration.


Raising animals for human consumption, after all, generates climate-changing emissions at every stage of production. For one thing, it requires vast amounts of land, water, and food to raise livestock. For another, cattle are themselves a source of huge quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. Finally, cattle-raising is a major contributor to deforestation, another cause of increases in carbon emissions. Overall, emissions from the livestock industry account for 14.5 percent of total carbon emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and these emissions are likely to increase in the near future as the production of meat is predicted to nearly double in the next 30 years.

With the world’s largest population and a rising craving for meat, China will be one of the biggest sources of increased demand. Experts at the advocacy group WildAid say that average annual meat consumption in China is on track to increase by another 60 pounds by 2030.

“One could argue that Chinese just want to enjoy the kind of life Westerners have for years. In the end, per capita meat conumption in China is still half that of the United States,” said Pan Genxing, director of the Institute of Resources, Environment, and Ecosystem of Agriculture at Nanjing Agricultural University. But, he added, “given the sheer population size, even small increases in individual meat intake will lead to outsized climate and environmental consequences worldwide.”

China is already the world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions, accounting for 27 percent of global carbon emissions. Its livestock industry is responsible for producing half the world’s pork, one-fourth of the world’s poultry and 10 percent of the world’s beef. No one knows exactly how much livestock contributes to the country’s mammoth carbon emissions. The last time Beijing produced official figures in 2005, it said that the national livestock sector accounted for more than half of the emissions from its overall agricultural activities. But one thing is for sure: how China will deal with soaring demand for meat is of paramount importance to both the nation and the rest of the world.

A 2014 study published in Nature by researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen stated that to keep up with the demand for meat, agricultural emissions worldwide will likely need to increase by up to 80 percent by 2050 — a figure that alone could jeopardize the ambitious plan to keep planetary warming below the 2-degrees Celsius benchmark set under the Paris climate accord.

China would contribute significantly to that growth. Marco Springmann, a sustainability researcher at Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, said that if meat consumption in the Asian country keeps growing as predicted, the nation would produce “an additional gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalents in greenhouse gas emissions, more than the current emissions of the global aviation industry” alone, and an increase of about one-tenth above China’s current level of emissions. According to a WildAid report, China alone could account for a growth in greenhouse gas emissions from 1.2 gigatons in 2015 to 1.8 gigatons by 2030.

“These calculations do not include land-use change,” Richard Waite, an associate at the World Resources Institute’s Food Program, told me by telephone from Washington, “but since meat production — especially beef production — takes up a significant amount of land, growing demand for meat in China would make for more forests converted to agriculture or pasture and also increase pressure on forests elsewhere.”

More meat on tables means more land given over to growing livestock feed — especially soybean, a crucial ingredient used to fatten up hogs and cattle quickly. Agricultural land, however, is in short supply in China. With around 20 percent of the world’s population, the country has only 7 percent of the world’s arable land, which is barely enough to keep up with the government’s goal of being self-sufficient for strategic commodities such as rice, corn, and wheat — a goal that has been at the heart of the national food security agenda for decades. Moreover, farmland in the country has been shrinking since the 1970s due to urbanization.

The increasing mismatch between available resources and surging demand has pushed China abroad in search of grain to feed livestock. The country now imports more than 100 million tons of soybeans per year, a figure corresponding to more than 60 percent of the global trade. In countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, this has led to the clearing away of vast swaths of forests to make way for huge soybean monocultures, further driving up greenhouse gas emissions since forests typically store carbon in living biomasses, soil, dead wood, and litter, while plants sequester vast quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis.

Importing grains to feed livestock at home isn’t the only strategy China is adopting to bridge the gap. Under the auspices of the government, Chinese companies have been taking over foreign ones like Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest producer of pork. Meanwhile, the Chinese have also been importing meat from Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Russia, and other countries, making China the world’s single largest market for meat.

“For decades, developed nations have relocated their factories to China, outsourcing their climate pollution and emissions,” said Waite. “Now China seems to have adopted the same paradigm.”


Sure enough, mitigating emissions from one the world’s largest, and most fragmented, livestock industries isn’t an easy task. It also doesn’t seem to be a priority for Beijing. “Some measures like subsidizing livestock farmers to turn animal waste – a major source of methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases much more potent than carbon dioxide – into organic fertilizers, encouraging them to take advantage of international carbon trading, or providing financial aid to install biogas plants to produce clean energy from manure have been implemented,” said Genxing of Nanjing Agricultural University. “But no specific low-carbon animal production policies exist in the country today.”

“For now, all the efforts are directed toward cutting emissions from sectors such as power generation and transportation,” he added, “and in the absence of major change, livestock emissions will continue to increase in China in the future.”

Programs aimed at curbing consumer demand for meat have begun to circulate. Two years ago, the Chinese Nutrition Society issued new dietary guidelines, which recommend cutting meat consumption in half, for example. The government also teamed up with WildAid to run celebrity-driven, high-impact media campaigns to promote the benefits of eating less meat. Should these campaigns prove effective, food-related emissions in China could be reduced by a billion metric tons compared to projected levels in 2050, Springmann suggested.

But accomplishing that is no easy feat. While the growth rate of animal protein consumption in the country has slowed somewhat in the past few years due to a number of factors — including new public health measures, better alternatives, contaminated meat, and a slowing economy — there are substantial cultural challenges that make it difficult to stem the tide. According Steve Blake, WildAid’s acting chief in China, most Chinese consumers fail to appreciate the link between higher meat intake to global warming. “While the issue of climate change is accepted in China much more so than in the U.S., the awareness about the impact of diet on climate change is very low,” he said. For a country where older generations “still vividly remember not even being able to afford meat a few decades ago,” he said, “meals featuring high amounts of meat are seen as a very good thing.”

Mixed messages from the government are also a hindrance.

“As is typical with Chinese governmental policy, the right and left hand are fighting against each other,” said Jeremy Haft, author of “Unmade in China: The Hidden Truth about China’s Economic Miracle,” in an email message. For example, Haft said, as the government encourages people to eat less meat, it is at the same time shifting the adverse environmental effects of cattle-rearing to the United States and other countries, where China continues to invest in agriculture.

But Haft pointed out that China has a rare opportunity to counteract the effects of this surge in meat-eating. “China’s remarkable development is regarded by many developing countries to be a model for lifting their own population out of poverty,” he noted. Given its centralized system, it has already proved it can be nimble in response to environmental risks — as happened with the transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy, which has caused national carbon dioxide emissions to decline or stay flat in the last few years, or with its subsidies for electrical vehicles, which has caused sales to skyrocket.

Now, Haft said, China needs to mount a similar effort to reduce meat consumption.

“If the country wants to become the world’s undisputed leading green superpower, it has to pave the way for a sustainable, low-carbon development [path] for low- and middle-income countries, inspiring them to follow suit,” Haft said. “And reducing emissions from the livestock sector should be part of the path.”

Marcello Rossi is a freelance science and environmental journalist based in Milan, Italy. His work has been published by Al Jazeera, Smithsonian, Reuters, Wired and Outside among other outlets.

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Regarding Anthony Bourdain: Thank You for Reading and Writing

*By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns*

I want to thank everyone very much who took the time to read my June 17
Anthony Bourdain
and to email me personally and post their reactions on UPC’s
Facebook page <>.

I’ve received an outpouring of emails from animal advocates expressing
for my post. A recurrent theme is: “Thank you for letting me know it’s not
me who finds fawning over this man and eulogizing him baffling, weird,
unfortunate, and depressing. I thought I was living in a parallel universe.”

A few complained that by criticizing Anthony Bourdain and his vegan
defenders, I
dishonored a “depressed” fellow human and his family. I suppose probably
everyone who systematically, consciously and deliberately inflicts pain,
suffering and death on others could be diagnosed with clinical depression or
some other mental problem. Should mass murderers and serial abusers (of
beings), instead of being “judged” (heaven forbid we be “judgmental”!), be
lavished with praise and larded with “tolerance”?

(Some vegans are judging me for being “judgmental.”)

Some Bourdain sympathizers have said such things as: since virtually
“eats meat,” they are just as guilty as, or even more guilty than, Anthony
Bourdain; he at least “looked his victims in the eye.”

I have never believed that people who “kill their own meat” are on a higher
plane of morality than those who thoughtlessly buy meat in a supermarket or
restaurant. I distinguish between people who’ve grown up on farms, where
animals up close and personal is so routine that they don’t question or
feel it
anymore, and those who, not having grown up that way, suddenly decide that,
instead of just buying meat at the store, they’re going to kill the animals
themselves. (Typically, such people, including the Anthony Bourdains, Mark
Zuckerbergs and Michael Pollens, do both, and encourage their groupies to
them, it’s so cool!)

The defense for killing your own animals is: you’re acting more “honorably”
“authentically” and “un-hypocritically” when you experience your victim’s
body, which you are personally going to destroy, than when your victim has
already been conveniently “disappeared” into a food product by others
in a “packing plant.”

One more point – which I’ve been making for decades* – is why, in the words
of a
person who wrote to me earlier this week, do some vegans “take the
viewpoint of
someone who vocalized complete hatred of ethical vegans?” What underlies the
self-deprecation, the judging of oneself from the point of view of The
Destroyer? Of course, animal people who share the same goals for animals
different temperaments that shape their style of advocacy. I would never
that every advocate who chooses a “softer” approach to advocacy is a
sellout or
a betrayer of animals. But there’s a difference between softness as a
thought-through strategy, and softness as a cover for lack of confidence in
one’s cause and one’s skills, compounded by a penchant for passivity and a
of confrontation, however mild, with mainstream opinion.

Once in the 1990s, I was sitting around with a group of activists including
who was prominent in our movement at the time. He complained about how hard
was for him to be an animal rights activist. He did not like being or
like an “outsider.” He resented being associated with people the mainstream
considered “wacko.” He almost went so far as to resent the animals
for putting him in this predicament. He eventually left the movement. Just
well. With friends like that, animals don’t need enemies.

As for calling Anthony Bourdain a monster, I stand by my closing statement
“Honoring Anthony Bourdain”: “From the point of view of his victims – and
my point of view as an animal rights activist – he was a monster who could
be missed.”

If you think he was *not* a monster from the point of view of his victims,
what do
you think he was – *from their point of view*? Which, without sounding
presumptuous, I share. By the way, Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Should
he get
a break and even be honored because he was, as well as a mass murderer, a
pathologically “flawed” human being who needed help? Was he evolving? Could
have been saved?

* The Rhetoric of Apology in Animal Rights

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes
the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
Don’t just switch from beef to chicken. Go Vegan.

View this article online

The new carnivores: Humans who eat only meat

raw steak on a plate
CC BY 2.0 Marius Boatca

Consuming between 2 and 4 pounds of steak daily, adherents of this new and extreme diet challenge everything that plant-based eaters believe in.

The word ‘carnivore,’ as we were taught in school, usually refers to a small group of animals, both present-day and prehistoric, that subsisted entirely on a diet of flesh. Think of carnivores, and animals like Tyrannosaurus rex, African lions, and sharks will come to mind; but now another animal has voluntarily added itself to the list, to the horror and doubt of many of its fellow species.

Enter the carnivorous human, a baffling phenomenon that is still small, yet gaining attention, both supportive and not. Proponents of carnivory claim that eating only meat, offal, and eggs — with absolutely no fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, or dairy — offers tremendous mental and physical benefits.

Shawn Baker, an orthopaedic surgeon from Orange County, California, only eats steak, a staggering 4 pounds of it each day. He switched from a diet that included salads, spinach, dairy and nuts to pure carnivore 18 months ago, and told the Guardian that his overall wellbeing has improved drastically.

“My joint pain and tendinitis went away, my sleep became excellent, my skin improved. I no longer had any bloating, cramping or other digestive problems, my libido went back to what it was in my 20s and my blood pressure normalised.”

Others claim the all-meat diet boosts mental focus, clarity, and productivity; that it has enabled them to achieve feats of physical prowess previously unattainable; and that it has simplified their lives. Baker doesn’t have to plan meals; he only asks himself how many steaks he wants. Michael Goldstein, a “bitcoin and meat maximalist” from Texas, says,

“Grocery shopping takes all of ten minutes, most of which is standing in the checkout line. I spend little time thinking about food. I only need to eat once or twice a day (no snacking or cravings). Basically, it’s the greatest productivity hack.”

Productivity aside, it is difficult to reconcile such a diet with its impact on the planet. The scientific evidence is mounting against industrial meat production and the numerous ways in which it degrades the planet, from destruction of natural habitats and loss of biodiversity, to requiring massive amounts of water for very low returns and widespread contamination of water sources, to dangerous methane emissions from the vast quantities of poop.

Nor do the carnivorous adherents prioritize the purchase of higher-quality meat (or at least meat from animals raised in conditions considered more natural or ethical), despite the fact that it comprises their entire diet. The Guardian article cites a software engineer from New York City who “will sometimes eat four to six quarter-pounder burger patties from McDonald’s for lunch.” Goldstein references the grocery store, where most meat sold is produced in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and says he spends $400 per month on steak. Based on my limited knowledge of grass-fed steak prices, $400 would not go far at his consumption rate of 2-2.5 pounds per day — perhaps a week at best.

Excessive red meat consumption has been linked to heart disease, inflammation in the gut, diabetes, and even cancer. But even if fears of pending illness are not sufficient to deter the new carnivores, the environmental argument should. It begs the question, what responsibility do we have to ourselves, to fellow humans, and to the planet to make dietary choices that sustain, or, better yet, regenerate our world?

Everything we do on a daily basis has an effect, and our choices add up. Animal agriculture is estimated to be on par with transportation when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions (some say it’s more), and we have a responsibility as conscientious citizens to do our best to reduce our individual footprints. Eating a carnivorous diet has no place in a world that strives to distribute food more evenly, alleviate hunger, and slow climate change.

Dog Meat Still on the Menu at South Korea Olympics

A handful of South Korean restaurants near the venues of the Winter Olympics are defying a government push to take dog meat off menus for the duration of the games, Channel News Asia reported.

The opening ceremony takes place on Friday in Pyeongchang county, with athletes from over 90 countries and tens of thousands of tourists from  South Korea and abroad expected to flock to the region. In a bid to avoid controversy over the culinary customs of eating dog meat, local authorities have tried to curb the serving of canine delicacies by offering nearby restaurants subsidies to temporarily alter their menus.

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But only a small minority appear to have taken up the government on the offer, Pyeongchang County government official Lee Yong-bae told AFP.

“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant operators that we are threatening their livelihood,” he said. Of the 12 dog meat restaurants in the county, only two have complied, Lee said on Thursday. According to him, a handful entertained agreeing to scrap dog meat from the menu but have already seen a drop in sales.


Puppies are seen in a cage at a dog meat market in Yulin, in China’s southern Guangxi region on June 21, 2017. China’s most notorious dog meat festival opened in Yulin on June 21, 2017, with butchers hacking slabs of canines and cooks frying the flesh following rumours that authorities would impose a ban this year. STR/AFP/Getty Images

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“Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply,” he said. “They then switched back to dog meat.”

Signage advertizing dog meat dishes has nonetheless become less prominent, as the restaurants are seeking to avoid giving “a bad impression to foreigners” during the Games, he added.

The custom of treating dogs as livestock and using them for sustenance is increasingly becoming a taboo in South Korea, with the country’s government branding them a “detestable” kind of meat. There are, however, no explicit legal punishments for the cooking of dog meat and a minority of South Koreans still do so.

Last year, authorities closed Moran market in Seongnam, the largest dog meat venue, which sold over  80,000 dogs a year. It accounted for about a third of South Korea’s dog meat consumption, according to local media estimates.

This article was first written by Newsweek