19 Jul '11, 4pm

Is it meaningless to talk about ‘sustainable’ food?

How sustainable is your jar of Ragu tomato sauce? That is an insane question, says self-described “anti-foodie” Frederick Kaufman in his TED Talk . Sustainability, Kaufman suggests, can be sort of like porn: you know it when you see it. But people really want it to be quantifiable. Kaufman describes efforts by a grand consortium of scientists, farmers, agribusiness, and environmentalists to track all the inputs into a product and mush those into one number that would reflect its overall sustainability. It turned out that one of the biggest hang-ups was that the corporate muckety-mucks calling the shots on the project couldn't decide what the unit of sustainability should be. What do we care about sustaining -- energy usage for farming? Production? Processing? Shipping emissions? General sense of feeling good about yourself for buying “green”? Kaufman pokes fun at the whole...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-07-19-is-it-meaningless-to...

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