Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Insatiable appetites for meat and milk may ultimately cost us the planet

The United Nations FAO report,
Livestock’s Long Shadow, states
that: “The livestock sector is a major
player, responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2
equivalent.  This is a higher share than
transport.” (Transport causes 13.5%).
25% of the world’s land surface is
given over to grazing more than 1.25
billion cattle. Grazing is often said to be
the only use for such land but, in many
cases, a more efficient and sustainable
use would be to grow trees for timber,
fuel and food – such as nuts and fruits.
More than 1/3 of the world's agricultural
land suffers desertification through:
clearing forests for grazing; overgrazing; overcultivating croplands to feed
farm animals as well as people; using
poor irrigation techniques.  A vegan –
who eats only plant foods and products
based on them – requires just 1/4 of
the land needed to feed a meat-eater.
Farm animals convert only a fraction of
their food into meat, eggs, or milk. The
fossil energy input to produce a day’s
food for a vegan is only one-third that
for a meat-eater and half that for a
vegetarian.  Much of the land now
wasted in feeding farm animals could be
used to grow ‘industrial crops’ – for
example, to make renewable fuels and
fibre (hemp, flax, etc)
Farm animals are voracious consumers
of water. A day’s food for a meat-eater
requires over 5,000 litres (enough to take
100 baths) – compared with 2,600 for a
vegetarian and a mere 1,900 for a
Farm animals produce large quantities
of urine and excrement – 23 kilograms
per day for each cow.  The ammonia
and nitrates from this waste leach into
the ground and surface water, polluting
wells and rivers.  Such pollution causes
algal blooms, removes oxygen from the
water and kills fish.  Ammonia from
farm waste also contributes to
atmospheric pollution.
Nearly one billion people are undernourished or starving, despite the world
producing enough food to feed twice its
human population of 6 billion.  Yet 1/3
of the grain we grow is fed to farm animals.  Nobody seriously suggests that
animal products (eg meat, eggs and
milk) are essential for health.
Animal farming represents a
squanderous misuse of scarce natural
resources and is a major contributor to
environmental destruction.  Vegan diets
use less land, water and fuel and are
gentler on the planet.

Source:  The Vegan Society

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Wine Lover: A Wine Bar in San Diego

     One of my favorite wine bars in San Diego is The Wine Lover in Hillcrest.  I have been frequenting this place for years and have always been very happy with the wines I have tried and the overall atmosphere compared to places like Wine Steals or Wine Encounter.  Both of those places should be called bars that serve wine rather than wine bars.  The Wine Lover is very intimate, small, and offers a lot for both this discerning palate and the complete wine novice.  They have changed their wine menu and wine consultants many times over the years, but the ambiance always stays the same.  An intimate and quiet corner tucked away from sometimes noisy Hillcrest. 
     The last time I was in San Diego I made plans to have a glass of wine with an old friend, so we planned to meet at the Wine Lover for a glass of wine.  However, I was stood up for reasons of family emergency, but I barely noticed.  The latest, and so far best wine concierge at the Wine Lover, Serge Chablè, kept me on my feet while we had an interesting conversation about wine and wine styles.  He is making a huge effort to include natural and authentic wines on the wine list, but not always having the best results from clients.  Not everyone wants to smell rust in their wine.  Some people are just plain happy with oaky vanilla and cherries.  It is interesting to note that even if we have a particular style we adore  in wine, not everyone has the same taste.  Not everyone enjoys gamey barnyard wines like I do, but I am happy he is making an effort.  To boot, he had New Order playing through Pandora and so lots of other darker 80s music came through the soundtrack.  My kind of bar!
     I tried 3 different wines and came home with one bottle.  I tasted a very interesting citrusy and crisp organic Chardonnay, a California Trebbiano that smelled and tasted of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and the star of the evening for me, a Saint-Joseph, bottled by Equis AOC 2007 from the northern Rhône.  It was full of depth and character, and I fell in love with it.  What Syrah should taste like.  It was green and full of mustard seed, had a nice tannins.   Of course, the notes will come later.  The emphasis was that Mr. Chablè listened to me as a client about my love for natural and authentic wines, how I love to smell minerals and the earth the wine comes from and he said, “Hey why don’t you try this wine.” And it suited me. 

     Why this place is always half empty I can’t figure out.  It is a friendly and relaxed place that offers board games for those just interested in an after work glass of wine and time to relax as well as a weekly meet the Sommelier wine lessons for those who want to get more serious about wine.  Try the wine flights for an added bonus and then decide what is your own personal wine style.  There are tables, couches and an outdoor patio with heating in the winter.  You’ll not find a friendlier wine bar in all of San Diego. 
The Wine Lover
3968 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103