Getting to the meat of the matter (Editorial)
It has been said — and, no doubt, correctly — that within the total bureaucracy of the United States government, the left hand frequently does not know what the right hand is doing.
Hey, that can easily apply within departments of that bureaucracy. For example:
It is called “Greening Headquarters Update.” It is an internal newsletter of the USDA. The issue of July 23 contained a blog on “Meatless Mondays,” and provided information on efforts within USDA in waste minimization and recycling, energy, food service and green buildings.
The Meatless Mondays post got more than the usual attention. It wandered heavily into the treacherous wastelands of animal rights and vegetarianism.
Meatless Monday, as the name implies, is an international effort which encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays.
Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
How will going meatless one day of the week help the “greening” of the USDA cafeterias?
Well, said the presumably USDA-sanctioned newsletter, the production of meat, especially beef — and dairy as well — has a large environmental impact.
According to the United Nations, animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change.
It also wastes resources, USDA employees were informed.
It takes 7,000 kilograms of grain to make 1,000 kilograms of beef, the blog continued.
In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels and pesticides.
In addition there are many reported health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.
While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment.
Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.
At least that’s what the USDA employees were advised.
... Say what?
It didn’t take long for the you-know-what to hit the you-know-what.
The blog generated a whirlwind of afternoon activity on social media and on Wednesday afternoon — about 36 hours later — USDA disavowed the item, claiming that it had not undergone “proper approval.”
That appeared to be obvious.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D. Alexander criticized USDA’s apparent Meatless Monday stance, saying it called into question USDA’s commitment to U.S. farmers and ranchers.
That seems a bit presumptuous.
What it does call into question, though, is the agency’s inability to manage an estimated 125,000 employees.
Obviously, in the wake of the Meatless Monday embarrassment, there are now one or two less on the USDA payroll.