18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Stephen C. Baer
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Smil doesn't tell you to eat meat or to refrain. He does explain his own diet and yes, he does eat meat, but not much and no hamburgers. The beginning of the book for me was a haze of the chemistry of nutrition, I did not understand much. Once he started on meat in human evolution, I found it easier to follow, but who could stay up with Smil? How has he written so many books, absorbed so many facts and figures? I think the key to his remarkable talent is that he treats facts surely but lightly, finds other qualities more important than statistics. As if the Olympic Champion Usain Bolt runs fast for us but usually flies instead of running.
Smil gives exhaustive statistics on meats consumption in different countries with particular attention to, well, every country: Japan, China, Spain, France, Great Britain, the USA, Brazil. The world, especially poor countries, eats more and more meat. Turkeys, chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, beef. Chickens make
up more and more of the meat we eat. The poor things are oh so crowded, they can't turn around in their cages and Smil gets into this. He is very concerned that we make our meat production more humane. He builds no pens or cages, but he is humane for watch how he uses language, no buzz words, he is never glib. "Sustainable" doesn't appear, nor "footprint." He is not sure what they mean. Smil is utterly out of the ordinary and can be read for knowledge or style. Most authors leave their reader with a scientific or political hangover, but not Smil. He does indulge in remote words. None are too long or arcane. Quantities of energy are never translated as they easily could be. Mega joules could be represented by gallons (excuse me, liters) of diesel, if we are discussing tractors. Should we eat meat? He does dwell, as he might, on kg/yr of chicken, beef, pork. Could Smil be converted from the uncomfortable metric to our more humane English system?
Smil gives us a wonderful peek at his diet, when he was young in Czechoslovakia, and we can only hope for a memoir. He is an untiring booster for the USA, which is easy to understand from a European, particularly one who has lived outside of the USA these last decades.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Smil looks at the history of humans and meat, the ethics of meat eating, health of meat eating (protein plays an important part in this discussion), animal nutrition, and the sustainability of meat eating. All are given a detailed look, with many references to studies. Ultimately, Smil concludes that meat-eating is sustainable, at a certain, fairly high level, if do-able sustainable agricultural practices are more widely used and less sustainable ones are stopped. A critical point is that livestock can make plant products that aren't really usable by humans for feed (grass, citrus peels, food processing residues, etc.) and convert then into food, so that livestock can add to the human food supply without using foods that are directly consumable by people, such as corn. Milk, eggs, and seafood are also touched on but are not the main topic of this book.
I'll present some of his reasoning here: Page 182: "But the prevalence of these objectional practices and the validity of these concerns are not convincing arguments against meat eating. Those practices are not inherent prerequisites of large scale meat production; they are essentially malpractices committed as a part of a short-sighted quest of maximizing meat output at minimized cost. Our understanding of livestock requirements, feed production and animal feeding, slaughtering and processing makes it possible to practice balanced and rational ways of meat production aimed at minimizing its environmental impacts and maximizing its health benefits." If such practices were put into play, Smil concludes, "The grand total of meat production that would come from grazing practiced with greatly reduced pasture degradation (roughly 40 Mt of beef and small ruminant meat), from feeding forages and crop residues (40 Mt of ruminant meat) and from converting highly nutritious crop processing residues (70 Mt chicken meat and 40 Mt pork) would thus amount to about 190 Mt/year. This output would require no further conversions of forests to pastures, no arable land for growing feed crops, no additional applications of fertilizers and pesticides with all the ensuing environmental problems. And it would be equal to almost exactly two-thirds of some 290 Mt of meat produced in 2010 - but that production causes extensive overgrazing and pasture degradation, and it requires feeding of about 750 Mt of grain and almost 200 Mt of other feed crops cultivated on arable land predicated on large amounts of agrochemicals and energy." Smil also discusses alternatives that can add to this supply of protein -- mycoproteins (Quorn), seafood, etc.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the topic. I'll surely be giving it as a gift!
Three other relevant books that may also interest you are: Meat: A Benign Extravagance, by Simon Fairlie, covers much the same ground as Smil's book, but also looks in more detail at sustainable livestock agriculture / permaculture. Similar conclusions are reached by Fairlie and Smil, and they mention some of the same studies, but I still found it worthwhile to read both. The author's offer different perspectives and each addresses various topics that the other does not.
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, by Paul Greenberg. This book is not nearly as good as the other too. It is much less in depth and refers to much less scientific research. Still, it does give more coverage to fish, of course, than the previous books and it is looking at the same topics. Worth considering if you want to learn more about the ethics and sustainability of wild and aqua-cultured fish.
Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World, by Andrew Rimas & Evan D.G. Fraser, is also relevant as far as the cultural history of meat and livestock.