Food Waste, Rotting Carcasses & the Mysterious Vitamin B12

My comments in response to: “Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals”

Food waste is a HUGE issue, especially in industrialized countries. Like most contemporary problems, the root cause is human behavior (not including food that expires or has “defects”). Raising the issue is crucial because most people don’t even think about it. Just like water – you turn on your faucet, flush your toilet, water your lawn, etc etc. But it’s only when you do not have water that you actually realize what a precious resource it is. You’ll realize: “Wow, I can’t really do anything without water…”

Similarly, people put more food on their plate than they can fit in their stomach because they are used to it. I’m not saying that we should starve our children to death, but juice fasting for a few days will make them realize, first hand, that they do not need to eat so much. It will also make them think twice about what and how they eat – not to mention positively benefitting their health.

“Almost everything we do creates waste.” <– This is true AND false – depends on our definition of waste.

Remember: “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure.”

If you look at the natural world, there is no such things as waste because everything, even poop and rotting carcasses, serves a significant purpose. In the same way, we need to realize that there is no such thing as waste if we properly design and utilize systems. Even plastic packaging can be used for something. –Although, the best solution would be to eliminate plastic from the consumption stream for good!.

Lastly, although “B vitamins are particularly concentrated in meat [products], good sources for B vitamins include legumes (pulses or beans), whole grains, potatoes, bananas, chili peppers, tempeh, nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast, and molasses” (Stipanuk, 2006. Biochemical, Physiological, Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition).

“But what about Vitamin B12?!” <– The perennial question posed to people on a plant-based diet.

As Vegan Coach, Patty Knutson clarifies: Vitamin B12 is found MOSTLY in animal products because the bacteria in their stomachs synthesizes B12, “which is then absorbed by their small intestines, thereby imparting the animal with B12.” Just like animals, humans ALSO make B12-synthesizing bacteria in their large intestine. In summary, you CAN eat a plant-based diet and receive all the vitamins and nutrients needed. In fact, most, if not all, vitamins and supplements are derived from plants, not animals.

For more info on this subject see: “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell AND “Is Vegan Vitamin B12 REALLY Necessary?” by Patty Knutson.  Featured Image courtesy of 1 Million Women organization.

Small Town Soul, Big City Brain

Ever since I watched Dive! ( a few years ago, I have been ultra-concerned with the amount of food we waste. I learned that about 50% of all the food produced in the U.S. ends up in the dump. When students approach me about writing on GMOs “because they are going to save the world,” I’m the (annoying) teacher who challenges their thinking by forcing them to consider the amount of food we waste as a potential solution to the food crisis. My request is logical: Do not overstate the impact of any one solution on world hunger. I must admit that my ulterior motive is to save myself from reading another paper on the GMO debate, primarily because the issue is a confusing mess from which no one has derived a clear definition that distinguishes genetically modified from hybridized organisms. After all, humans have been hybridizing crops since agriculture began. Only one of my students has addressed how…

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