Meat And Seafood: The Global Diet’s Most Costly Ingredients
Global consumption of meat and fish is growing rapidly, but producing such food on a large scale generates enormous health and environmental problems. Meeting the demand for meat and seafood in alternative ways can protect both ecosystems and small farmers, according to Brian Halweil and Danielle Nierenberg, authors of Chapter 5 of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2008.
In 2006, farmers produced an estimated 276 million tons of chicken, pork, beef, and other types of meat — four times as much as in 1961. On average, each person eats twice as much meat as in 1961, about 43 kilograms.
Additionally, the global fishing industry harvested about 141 million tons of seafood in 2005, the last year for which data are available. That was eight times as much as in 1950, with each person on average eating four times as much seafood as they were 55 years prior.
According to this Worldwatch report chapter, there are methods of raising animals for beef, pork, and chicken that do not create overwhelming amounts of manure or consume excessive resources such as grain and water, and are less harmful to other animals. However, these methods will likely lead to higher prices for consumers.
This article examines the changing production methods in detail, complete with historical contexts and presents a closer look at the worldwide meat and seafood industry. See the full report for details.