Sin Tracker: The BLT as WMD

In: Uncategorized

9 Sep 2006

Monitoring the alleged sins of modern life

It turns out the humble Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (BLT) sandwich is a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). This month’s Ecologist magazine has a 10 page cover story on the subject plus an editorial by Zac Goldsmith. Among other things the BLT pollutes rivers because of pig faeces from intensive farms, destroys biodiversity through the production of soya to make fodder for the pigs, involves the use of dams to irrigate horticulture, uses pesticides, fertiliser and energy. All this for a food item which, the Ecologist claims, has no nutritional value.

Goldsmith suggests two solutions to deal with this apparent threat to humanity. First, “honest accounting” by which he means more taxes so the average BLT costs a lot more than the current average of about £1.80. Second, individuals should eat BLTs that are local and organic.

It does not take a close read to realise that what the Ecologist really objects to is modern agriculture. As Goldsmith argues in his editorial: “The BLT itself is not the problem, the global food system is the problem.” The issue also contains an award-winning essay by Clive W Dennis on “Humanity’s worst invention: Agriculture.” The essay is reminiscent of the 1987 piece by Jared Diamond, a leading American environmentalist, on agriculture as “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” (also see my 1 August dispatch). So it seems that environmentalists are not only hostile to the Industrial Revolution but to the Agricultural Revolution as well.

A quick postscript I cannot resist. This issue of the Ecologist also includes an insert from the Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation with a picture of an unhappy looking woman drinking a glass of milk. The main caption: “Up to 100 million pus cells in every glass …”. Delightful!