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Imperialist Food Coverage

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I know The Economist has its roots in the British imperialist world. And I also know that the Chinese eat enough pork to play a not small role in global environmental degradation. However, an article on how Chinese pork consumption “is a danger to the world” that does not mention how European and European settler states consume meat (except for a quick mention of Americans liking beef) and how the people of these nations are and have long been the real driver of worldwide environmental degradation really follows that imperial legacy and is borderline offensive. That does not in any way downplay the point that global meat consumption is an environmental problem, but by pointing at THOSE (brown) people as the problem, this piece reinforces long histories in a variety of genres of writing–economic, environmental, foreign affairs–that worries about a foreign threat while ignoring the privilege of the publication’s own readership.

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  • Derelict

    Prime rib for me, but not for thee!

    • Yeah well, a few weeks ago I advocated for not eating meat here, on the grounds of saving the planet, and I was mass mugged and accused of being a troll. The attackers were really angry and irrational. So there’s that.

  • c u n d gulag

    China and India also have some terrific and nutritious vegetarian dishes.

    Those were always the two go-to cuisines we looked for when we took out vegetarian family members and friends.

  • Ahuitzotl

    But isnt that the point of The Economist, reinforcing stereotypes and enforcing privilege in the most polite and genteel way? Personally I find it an invaluable publication, mostly for oppo

  • rea

    Environmental degradation is all the fault of those Asiatics, for wanting to live like us.

  • ThrottleJockey

    Well, sure if you want to cherry pick you can make that claim. But the Economist has criticized the environmental impact of American and European eating habits before. They’ve even gone so far as to suggest that we take up eating insects and join our global brethren:

    But eating animals exacts a high toll on the planet. The bigger the beast, the more food, land and water is needed to produce the final edible product, resulting in higher greenhouse-gas emissions. A cow takes 8kg of feed to produce 1kg of beef, but only 40% of the cow can be eaten. Crickets require just 1.7kg of food to produce 1kg of meat, and 80% is considered edible. Insects are also high in protein, minerals and micronutrients.

    • If I ever had any urge to eat insects, survival school got it out of my system.

      • If I ever had any urge to eat insects, survival school Alien got it out of my system.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Oh no, N_B, it got it into your system. It just hasnt emerged again, yet.

    • Brett

      Exactly. You can criticize just about any article for not going into enough detail, and it does actually acknowledge near the end why this is an issue versus meat consumption in the rich countries (as I pointed out in my post).

    • Hogan

      Note that the takeawawy from the second link is that we should change livestock rearing practices in . . . east Africa and southeast Asia.

  • LosGatosCA

    I think you missed the point – if not for the Chinese eating so much pork, everyone else could eat even more meat. That’s pretty selfish of them. Which I think is part of a larger pattern as well. Is there a more selfish act than committing suicide rather than building my iPhone6+ so I don’t have to wait 4 weeks?

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    The Economist was one of the main reasons I quit Economics. That and the whole “shock therapy” death cult re: post-Soviet states that took over in the early ’90s.

  • Brett

    However, an article on how Chinese pork consumption “is a danger to the world” that does not mention how European and European settler states consume meat (except for a quick mention of Americans liking beef) and how the people of these nations are and have long been the real driver of worldwide environmental degradation really follows that imperial legacy and is borderline offensive.

    That’s why they probably have this at the end:

    In much of the rich world meat consumption is stable or falling but in the Middle Kingdom it soars unrestrained.

    So yeah, I can see why they decided to focus on the massive expansion of Chinese pork consumption and how that’s changing agricultural and environmental practices in other countries. It’d be the same thing if the Economist did an article on the massive resurgence of demand for elephant ivory (and resultant poaching).

    In fact, it both cases you can see why getting it to a more sustainable level will be extra difficult. They’re both loaded with a lot of cultural significance.

  • River Birch

    Seems like our last discussion critiquing meat consumption came to the conclusion that any attempt to identify problematic aspects of such practices revealed one to be a very, very bad person unconscionably failing to check his or her privilege vis-a-vis the global 99%?

    Offending passage is as follows: “… how European and European settler states consume meat … and how the people of these nations are and have long been the real driver of worldwide environmental degradation …”

    Why can’t you see that people’s preference to eat meat produced in terrifically environmentally destructive fashions is more important than your bourgeois elite preference to live on a planet that can sustain human life?

    C’mon Erik, at least try to keep up!

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