A guide to conscious eating

January 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Learn how to improve your health, your finances, and the environment through what "responsible eating." In his book, "Food Matters," Mark Bittman explains how responsible eating can produce dramatic personal and global results.

About Mark Bittman:
Mark Bittman is "The Minimalist" columnist for the New York Times and author of the upcoming book FOOD MATTERS: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More than 75 Recipes (January 2009). He is the man who can finally change the way that America eats. There is a way we can eat our way out of this global environmental crisis, and Bittman shows us how. FOOD MATTERS is a polemic and a lifestyle with 75 delicious recipes to boot. Bittman is sounding the alarm about the link between our environment and our eating habits - as he points out livestock production contributes more to global warming than does transportation. He writes in a straightforward and appealing style, and without condescending, he suggests a non-doctrinaire plan that will get readers to eat less meat and more vegetables and whole grains. It's a plan for responsible eating that's as good for the planet as it is for our waistlines.

Book signing January 12, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. Book Passage Ferry Building San Francisco

Buy the book on Amazon: Food Matters

Statistics from the book, "FOOD MATTERS: A Guide to Conscious Eating"


· Livestock accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions-more than transport

· 70% of the world's farmland -- one-third of the earth's ice-free surface - is involved in livestock production

· Livestock is a major driver of deforestation. 70 percent of the forests in the Amazon basin have been cut down for grazing land

· The food industry accounts for 10% of all fossil fuel used in the US.


· 40 calories of energy needed to produce 1 calorie of beef protein; producing 1 protein calorie of corn requires just 2.2 calories of energy

· To produce a pound of beef requires 13 pounds of corn and 30 of hay

· A typical steer consumes the equivalent of 135 gallons of gasoline during his lifetime - enough for an energy-efficient car to make a cross country round trip twice

· 60 billion animals are raised a year for food -10 for every human on earth (10 billion of these are raised in the U.S. alone, which is about 30 per person). By 2050, at current projections, we'll need to produce 120 billion animals a year

· Corn and soy account for 50% of the total US harvest, and most of that here and in the rest of the world is used to feed cattle, pigs and chickens

· 50% of the antibiotics administered in the US are used for animals

· Agricultural subsidies cost taxpayers $19 billion a year and benefit only 3100 farmers


· A typical family of four steak dinner uses about the same amount of energy as driving around in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home

· If we each ate the equivalent of 3 fewer cheeseburgers a week we'd cancel out the effects of all SUVs in this country

· Americans eat an average of 1/2 pound of meat a day per capita

· Americans eat or drink on average more than 1 ½ pounds of dairy products per day per capita

· 1/3 of Americans' calories come from nutrient-poor foods-7% from soda alone

· One can of one-calorie soda requires 2200 calories to produce yielding just 1 calorie of food energy (70% is in the production of the aluminum can)

· A one quart polyethylene bottle takes over 2400 calories to produce - so every time you drink tap instead of buying a bottle of water, you're saving the equivalent of a day's food

· Consuming a quarter pound of beef accounts for about 20% of your daily caloric intake, yet it takes 1000 calories - half your daily intake - to produce that burger

· Americans consume about 25% more calories per day than they did in 1970.

· Americans consume 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the RDA; of that, about 75 grams comes from animal protein

· The beef in one Big Mac is equivalent, in terms of grain produced and consumed, to five loaves of bread

· Americans eat over 1/3 of their meals outside the home


· 1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry; another billion are overweight

· U.S. life expectancy is ranked 42nd in the world--behind most of Europe, Jordan, Guam, and Singapore--down from 11th two decades ago

· About 70 million Americans (almost one-fourth of the population) have some form of cardiovascular disease

· Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes (six million of them don't know it), and another 41 million have "pre-diabetes"

· In 2007, all of the potential "blockbuster" drugs (those with potential sales of $1 billion or more) were designed to combat lifestyle diseases: diabetes, heart disease, and obesity

· The cost of diet-related illnesses - heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cancer - is roughly $840 billion (for comparison, the Social Security budget is $657 billion)

· 50 million Americans cannot tolerate dairy in their diet

· Fewer than 1/3 of public schools offered and served lunches that passed the USDA's own nutritional requirements

· The Lancet recommendations are in line with Food Matters: "The current global average meat consumption is 100 g per person per day, with about a ten-fold variation between high-consuming and low-consuming populations. 90 g per day is proposed (a 10% reduction) as a working global target, shared more evenly, with not more than 50 g per day coming from red meat."