In support of Meatless Monday

As a society, we aren’t approaching food correctly. There are more efficient, ethical and environmentally sound ways to produce and consume. When the University of Minnesota re-opened with land-grant status in 1867, factory farming didn’t exist; the first factory farm opened in 1926.

Since then, there have been massive geographic and economic shifts in food production. Factory farms, which now constitute the industry, are both energy- and capital-intensive facilities that produce more sewage than large cities, threaten rural communities and create unfathomable environmental and public health issues.

In the United States, 54 percent of farm animals inhabit just 5 percent of farms. Family farms aren’t what Minnesota subsists on. Their existence is nearly obsolete. Since 1935, the number of farms in the U.S. fell from 6.8 million to about 2.1 million. Fewer than 2 percent of Americans now farm for a job. This isn’t because less farming is happening; it’s because globalization and industrialization have dominated the industry.

We started campaigning for Meatless Mondays to educate students that animal products consumed in the dining halls (and nearly everywhere else) don’t come from small, “humane” family farms.

We want them to know that the 13 pounds of grain it takes to produce 1 pound of meat could be redistributed to alleviate some of the world’s hunger. We want them to recognize that horrific scenes seen in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals videos aren’t a myth or exception — they’re most farms in the U.S.

The Meatless Monday campaign, launched by the John Hopkins School of Public Health, isn’t meant to attack the agriculture department nor the University of Minnesota’s history.

It’s an opportunity to bring awareness to consumers of the catastrophes of our food system. The world faces dire environmental, social and ethical challenges. We need to recognize the ability we have to alleviate them. We can begin by paying attention to implications of our food.