You have probably heard by now that Epicurious.com, a large cooking website owned by the huge publisher Condé Nast, has announced it will not publish any new recipes using beef out of concern for sustainability, whatever that means (someone give me a solid definition, please). According to the website editors, “It might not feel like much, but cutting out just a single ingredient—beef—can have an outsize impact on making a person’s cooking more environmentally friendly.”
This is bullpoop.
According to the EPA, all forms of agriculture produce only 10% of all greenhouse gases. Transportation accounts for 29%, electricity generation 25%, industry 23%, commercial and residential buildings 13%. If Epicurious really wants to be sustainable, the editors should talk to the site’s parent company Condé Nast (owned by Advance Publications), which regularly delivers print publications to more than 72 million consumers. They’d make a bigger dent in greenhouse gas emissions if they stopped chopping trees and grinding them into paper, running massive printing presses, and then shipping glossy magazines across the nation to postal carriers who drive gas guzzlers to deliver their ad laden publications.
By the way, if we reduce the numbers of cattle, we will also reduce the available manure needed for organic vegetables. And why oh why did they use the awful illustration below to make their point?
If Epicurious is so opposed to beef, why go half-assed? Why not remove all the beef recipes on the site? Because they have a massive library of beef recipes and really don’t need any more, so it is easy to cut off new recipes.
James Hohmann in the Washington Post says the move “plays into the hands of the bad-faith actors who falsely claim that President Biden wants to limit their hamburger consumption.” In other words, it’s not helping the situation.
Look, the solution to climate change is not to stop eating beef. The solutions are to employ emerging technologies for more efficient transportation, electricity, and heating. Together, those sources account for 90% of greenhouse gases while agriculture accounts for only 10%, and beef production a fraction of that. If we want to reduce the carbon footprint of beef specifically, the solutions are new animal feeds that produce fewer gases (yes, this is a thing), stopping corn subsidies so beef prices will rise to their true level thus reducing demand, and for Epicurious and other food influencers (including my website, AmazingRibs.com) to convince our readers to stop eating crap beef like those billions of cheap tasteless quarter pound fast food hockey pucks, and instead focus our beef love on steaks and the good stuff.