Ag policy, cartographically

Tomatoes on the vine.

Parke Wilde at the US Food Policy blog posts ten google maps illustrating different agriculture land uses, from a phosphate strip mine in Florida to the Polyface farm featured in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Inc.

Peter Singer’s argument for vegetarianism turns on the premise that the difference in the amount of happiness we get from eating a salad and eating a pork chop is slight enough that it deserves little weight against other considerations.  The suffering and death of the pig, for example, is far more significant than our pork-chop/salad pleasure differential.  This is a powerful idea and it’s gotten a lot of traction.

Looking at these maps, I wonder why Singer’s premise hasn’t been more broadly applied.  After all, there is little or no difference between the amount we enjoy eating corn fertilized with mined phosphorous and eating crop-rotated corn.  Given the huge difference in environmental impact between these practices, shouldn’t we care about agricultural policy more than we do?  Singer’s argument has made many vegetarians.  Why hasn’t it made more policy wonks?

Related articles:

£1.99 - small Environmental Ethics: An Overview
By Katie McShane, Colarado State University (May 2009)
Philosophy Compass

£1.99 - small Morality and Psychology
By Chrisoula Andreou, University of Utah (December 2006)
Philosophy Compass

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