Saturday January 19, 2019

Amid terrible economic crisis, Venezuela is also running short of Beer

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Beer, Wikimedia
  • Venezuela is home to the largest oil reserves in the world
  • The government is causing the country to self implode
  • Shortages have led people to turn to rioting and looting

Meat, milk, bread and beer; staple items on a diet plan. These items are now hardly available to the citizens of Venezuela. Empresas Polar is upon tough times. It was founded in 1941 and has been the food giant in the socialist country. Factories now work at half speed with thousands of employees having been laid off since April.

Even though Venezuela is home to the largest oil reserves in the world, the prices of petroleum are down and government policies are making matters worse.

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The country’s food production has also plummeted leading to food shortages. These shortages have led people to turn to rioting and looting. The disheartening part of this situation is that the government refuses to change its ways.

crisis in Venezuela. Image source: Wikipedia
crisis in Venezuela. Image source: Wikipedia

In fact, the government has turned to place blame on the largest private company in Venezuela, Empresas Polar. President Nicolás Maduro has gone so far to label the chief executive of the company as,  “a thief and a traitor.” The president also claims that Polar is purposefully refraining from full food production in attempts to ruin the Venezuelan economy. These claims come with no evidence that any of it is true, and has left the Lorenzo Mendoza with a saddened heart.

Lorenzo Mendoza, the chief executive of Empresas Polar, has been appalled at the attacks on him and his private company. He is frustrated because he has seen other governments such as those in, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador embrace the private companies within their country.

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There is a barley shortage. The government controls foreign currency and refuses to import the barley that Polar needs. Venezuela is unable to grow its own barley in its tropical climate. That creates frustration among the workers; demanding the materials they need to be able to work. So many hard emotions are being felt everyday and many of the Venezuelans may just want to sit down and have a beer in attempts to relax. Unfortunately for them, Polar is responsible for 80 percent of the countries beer. Vendors now have to ration off the remaining beer cases they have, and they limit the amount that each customer can purchase.

The government is causing the country to self implode. Without the approval from the government to import goods into the country, the largest food distributor has no means to put anything on their shelves to sell. It is hard for a company to convince the government to go out and purchase foreign goods when the government hardly has any money to sustain its own Maduro regime.

The Venezuelan economy is crumbling. The government has decided to pit the blame on the largest food distributor in the country. With shortages in meat, milk, bread, and beer things do not look as though they will get better under the socialist rule.

-by Abigail Andrea. She is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @abby_kono

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To Avoid Catastrophic Damage, Humans Need To Change Their Diet: Study

We need governments to help accelerate the change by aligning national dietary guidelines with healthy and sustainable requirements

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Food, Meat, damage
This is the "Impossible Burger," made from wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein and other ingredients, shown in Bellevue, Neb., Jan. 11, 2019. A report released Jan. 16, 2019, by a panel of nutrition, agriculture and environmental experts recommends a plant-based diet. VOA

The way humanity produces and eats food must radically change to avoid millions of deaths and “catastrophic” damage to the planet, according to a landmark study published Thursday.

The key to both goals is a dramatic shift in the global diet — roughly half as much sugar and red meat, and twice as many vegetables, fruits and nuts — a consortium of three dozen researchers concluded in The Lancet, a medical journal.

“We are in a catastrophic situation,” co-author Tim Lang, a professor at the University of London and policy lead for the EAT-Lancet Commission that compiled the 50-page study, told AFP.

Currently, nearly a billion people are hungry and another 2 billion are eating too much of the wrong foods, causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Food, Meat, Damage
The key to protecting human and planetary health is a dramatic shift in the global diet — roughly half as much sugar and red meat, and twice as many vegetables, fruits and nuts — a consortium of three dozen researchers concluded in The Lancet. VOA

Unhealthy diets account for up to 11 million avoidable premature deaths every year, according to the most recent Global Disease Burden report.

At the same time the global food system is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, and the main cause of deadly algae blooms along coasts and inland waterways.

Agriculture — which has transformed nearly half the planet’s land surface — also uses up about 70 percent of the global fresh water supply.

“To have any chance of feeding 10 billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries” — the limits on Earth’s capacity to absorb human activity — “we must adopt a healthy diet, slash food waste and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts,” said co-author Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact Research.

“It is doable but it will take nothing less than global agricultural revolution,” he told AFP.

The main culprit

The cornerstone of “the great food transformation” called for in the study is a template human diet of about 2,500 calories per day.

Meat, Food, Damage
Beef products are displayed for sale at a grocery store in McLean, Va. VOA

“We are not saying everyone has to eat in the same way,” Lang said by phone. “But broadly — especially in the rich world — it means a reduction of meat and dairy, and a major increase in plant consumption.”

The diet allows for about 7 grams (.25 ounce) of red meat per day, and up to 14. A typical hamburger patty, by comparison, is 125 to 150 grams.

For most rich nations, and many emerging ones such as China and Brazil, this would represent a drastic five- to tenfold reduction.

Beef is the main culprit. Not only do cattle pass massive quantities of planet-warming methane, huge swaths of carbon-absorbing forests — mostly in Brazil — are cut down every year to make room for them.

“For climate, we know that coal is the low-hanging fruit, the dirtiest of fossil fuels,” said Rockstrom. “On the food side, the equivalent is grain-fed beef.”

It takes at least 5 kilos of grain to produce a kilo of meat.

meat, Damage
The big challenge is making meat that looks, feels and tastes like the real thing. Pixabay

And once that steak or lamb chop hits the plate, about 30 percent will wind up in the garbage bin.

Dairy is also limited to about one cup (250 grams) of whole milk — or its equivalent in cheese or yogurt — per day, and only one or two eggs per week.

At the same time, the diet calls for a more than 100 percent increase in legumes such as peas and lentils, along with vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Grains are considered to be less healthy sources of nutrients.

“We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources,” said Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton. “For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of sync with the planet and nature.”

Pushback

The report drew heavy fire from the livestock and dairy industry, and some experts.

meat
FILE – Professor Mark Post holds the world’s first lab-grown beef burger during a launch event in west London, Aug. 5, 2013. Mosa Meat, a Dutch company that presented the world’s first lab-grown beef burger five years ago, said July 17, 2018, it has received funding to pursue its plans to make and sell artificially grown meat to restaurants from 2021. VOA

“It goes to the extreme to create maximum attention, but we must be more responsible when making serious dietary recommendation,” said Alexander Anton, secretary-general of the European Dairy Association, noting that dairy products are “packed” with nutrients and vitamins.

Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London said the report “reveals the full agenda of nanny-state campaigners.”

Also Read: Eat Less Meat To Meet Climate Targets: Study

“We expected these attacks,” said Lang. “But the same food companies pushing back against these findings realize that they may not have a future if they don’t adapt.

“The question is: Does this come by crisis, or do we start planning for it now?”

Some multinationals responded positively, if cautiously, to the study.

“We need governments to help accelerate the change by aligning national dietary guidelines with healthy and sustainable requirements, and repurposing agricultural subsidies,” the World Business Council for Sustainable Development said in a statement. (VOA)