Recently, Frances Moore Lappé’s statement in the book Diet For A Small Planet has been at the heart of a lot of debate among consumers and agriculturalists. Although the book was published in the early 70’s, its words have still been consumed by those who read it and have affected the both the beef and production industry greatly. In the book, she says that it takes over 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef. This not only deems critique upon the beef industry, but it questions whether farmers produce food for the world’s population or for the world’s livestock. Aside from just being used in this book itself, many “educational” curricula and textbook authors have based their own conclusions and ideas off of this “fact”.
Julie’s Fresh Air, a blogger who instigates conversation about issues among the agricultural industry, says:
“Figures written about how much water or oil it takes to produce beef are based on the 16 to 1 ratio. These “facts” are then used by authors, animal rights groups and environmental educators to convince teens to become vegetarians and “feed a starving world.” Their favorite phrase taken from Lappé is that the world can support more vegetarians than meat eaters.”
To end the controversy, The American Farm Bureau Foundation conducted a study to prove the author’s so called facts and studies wrong. The research shows the actual figure is 2.6 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef in the United States. The world’s average is three-tenths of a pound of grain to a pound of beef. This not only proves the author wrong, but proves that consumers should be careful about who they put their trust in to form their opinions. Not all “studies” are actually proven by facts, and not all “facts” are actually true.