My Summer Reading - Where's the Beef?

It all began innocently enough. Someone at the Lydia Circle knitting group in May asked me what she could do to help with climate change. I thought for a minute and then responded “eat less meat.” 


I was already familiar with Forks Over Knives, a cookbook and documentary about the benefits of plant-based eating and Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemna. A member of the Lydia Circle who was present that night later dropped by my house with one of her books, 4Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health, about food choices in today’s world. Then I attended a lecture about a new book called Drawdown - The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. And so rather than the usual summer “beach” reads, I spent my summer reading about food choices. What you might ask does this have to do with Glenn? The Bible asks us to protect the earth beginning in Genesis 2:15 with the call to care for the garden and ending with a passage in Revelation 11:18 that references the destroyers of the earth. 

As I read through Drawdown, which is divided into sections on Energy, Food, Women and Girls, Buildings and Cities, Land Use, Transport, and Materials, I was trying to figure out what I, as one person, could do to help in this climate change reduction effort. Most of what we read in the national news about global warming is not anything that one person can really make a difference in and so I was drawn to the chapters on food. Everyone eats and that seemed a good place for me to start to get a handle on this comprehensive book that is full of solutions that one by one can help us solve the global problem. 

Did you know that animals such as cattle are the most prolific offenders of generating methane, the greenhouse gas? Also, the energy consumption to grow livestock feed produces carbon dioxide, and manure and fertilizers emit nitrous oxide. “If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases” according to the book. Wow! And so, for health and environmental reasons, we have basically stopped eating beef. My husband Dave and I had been on this journey before I read the book, but the environmental benefits really hit home with me this summer and I have recommitted to not eating beef.

Another solution that is discussed in Drawdown is one that most of us can participate in - composting. At our house and at Glenn we already compost our organic food waste and recycle almost everything, but I did not realize how important this was to helping with the climate change effort. When organic waste ends up in landfills, it produces methane gas. Even though some landfills capture methane, it is more effective to divert this waste and compost it for the garden.

These are just two of the solutions presented in Drawdown. I challenge each of us and the church as a whole to embrace as many of these solutions as we can. Visit the Ventures in Faith Sunday school class on September 17 and 24 for more discussion on the issue and/or visit the Drawdown website. Look for more information and challenges in a new segment called “Green Notes” that will appear in various Glenn communications throughout the year.

Lynn Speno

Environmental Committee Chair