Thanksgiving — Guilty or not?

As we move towards the Thanksgiving holiday, it is worth asking what we are giving thanks for. Is it for bountiful food and the table-groaning feasts we typically consume for this holiday? Or for the ability to eat and drink more and more cheaply than most humans in history?

Thanksgiving for some of us may be an opportunity to reflect on who consumes what. We know, sadly, that we have growing poverty and dependence on food stamps here in the richest country in the world. But what is happening elsewhere?

I recently came across a very engaging graphic from the International Business Guide on our hungry planet, which you can link to here: http://www.internationalbusinessguide.org/hungry-planet/

I don’t quite agree with everything in this graphic; I do think the world’s resources per person are pretty flexible with regard to agriculture and waste disposal, if we can continue to do things more efficiently. But it is chock full of interesting items — did you know that people in Spain spend more money eating out than folks in richer countries, or that the US is only #56 in alcohol consumption per capita (Moldova is #1)? And the graphic shows that China has now surpassed the US in energy hunger…

The key message of this graphic that I do endorse is that we must think about consumption; promoting the US waste-rich and calorie-rich lifestyle for the entire world will neither be healthy nor sensible for global prosperity. So we need to find ways to enjoy our consumption with fewer inputs, less waste, and more enjoyment per resources consumed — now there’s a new metric worth thinking about!

Enjoy your holiday turkeys everyone (and Happy Thanksgivingkah to those of us celebrating two, TWO holidays at once this weekend…)

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About jackgoldstone

Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University
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