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Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples joins those outraged over feds’ scuttled ‘Meatless Monday’ plan
Friday, Jul 27, 2012, 11:03AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Imagine the gall of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples wanting to tear down your very own plan to promote vegetarianism across America.

Whaddya mean, it’s not yours? Whaddya mean, you like meat? You one of those chronically obese supersizers, washing down those triple-patties with half-gallon Big Gulps that may soon be illegal in New York City and wallowing in your 5,000 square-foot, carbon hoofprint?

Figures you wouldn’t have any idea that Staples found out about the federal, taxpayer-supported plan called Meatless Mondays, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting. That he called support for the program treasonous on his Texas Department of Agriculture blog.

It’s a vegetarian thing. You wouldn’t understand. But we’ll try.

You see, you as a red-blooded (think rare New York Strip) American taxpayer are supporting something called Green Teams in something called the Headquarters Sustainable Operations in something called the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The goal of the Headquarters, as stated on its web page, is to continuously reduce environmental impacts in all of their Washington, D.C-area buildings, which your tax dollars pay to maintain.

On July 23, in one of those buildings a team member generated a Greening Headquarters Update in which employees were encouraged to take advantage of a new initiative in headquarters cafeterias, Meatless Monday.

The newsletter called Meatless Monday an international effort and backed it up with renowned international effort maker, United Nations, fact finding.

How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment. The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef.

In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many 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.

This international movement is spearheaded by a non-profit organization, The Monday Campaign Inc., that says it is working in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

The Monday Campaign was founded by Sid Lerner, a longtime advertising man who, according to National Public Radio, was in part to blame for Mr. Whipple and those relentlessly awful Charmin squeezing commercials.

Lerner long ago blamed meat for his health problems and concluded that with his professional powers of persuasion and a helping hand from American taxpayers he could convince Americans to blame meat, too.

There is no blaming on the website. Foregoing meat on the second day of the week, Lerner’s copywriters say, is a way to galvanize the nation again as did presidents Wilson, Roosevelt and Truman.

Going meatless once a week is a way to bring back the glory days of common sacrifice during two world wars. Oh, and “reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change.”

Just one petite filet of a problem. The folks galvanizing and being galvanized work for the taxpayer-supported U.S. Department of Agriculture, with a sworn mission to provide leadership on food and a plan to expand the market for American agricultural products.

In spite of the best efforts so far, meat of all kinds continues to be an American agricultural product as well as a food. Beef industry leaders found it difficult to understand how a mass abandonment of meat constituted a plan to expand their market.

When the industry made its displeasure public, the USDA disavowed Meatless Monday and ordered its promotional newsletter taken down.

Staples, with little regard for Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman and common sacrifice, wanted more, a pound of flesh, properly seared to seal in all the succulent juices.

“Perhaps the best apology would be to fire the person or persons responsible for distributing these treasonous comments,” Staples said on his blog. “Why should our hardworking beef producers be paying the uninformed enemy’s salary? Without delay, the responsible parties have got to go.”

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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