The question about what to eat is perhaps one of the most controversial topics among environmental movement activists. Animal-rights activists and sustainable food system activists have many clashing opinions, but also many overlapping agreements. While they differ on the question of local animals in food systems for example, they agree that modern industrial animal production is cruel and wasteful.
The sustainable agriculture movement is also considered an environmental movement. It shares issues in common with the appropriate technology movement, which advocates a new economy based on a reflection on the social consequences of technological change. They share similar concerns with the "back to the land" movement. The influence of books such as E.F. Schumaker's Small is Beautiful, Wendell Berry's Unsettling of America; Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, an attack on DDT that was serialized in the New Yorker in the early 1960s; and Murray Bookchin's Our Synthetic Environment demonstrate a significant overlap between environmental and agricultural concerns. Today, the sustainable agriculture movement overlaps with anti-genetic engineering activists who critique technological change in agriculture, drawing on the environmental implications of the Green Revolution and agricultural development.
Some environmental movements see the roots of environmental problems as stemming from globalization. These groups focus efforts on remaking communities based on the ideals of more local production-consumption linkages. The promotion of green or ethical consumption is directed at getting consumers to shorten commodity chains through more direct purchasing, such as farmer's markets, to establish connections between producers and consumers of locally-grown food as opposed to industrial and fast food. Perhaps the most widely-recognizable form of ethical consumerism is vegetarianism, which is motivated by the ethical consequences of eating meat. Epitomizing ethical consumerism and the role of environmental movements is the international coffee situation, where a transition to large plantation, full-sun coffee has led to declines in migratory birds that over-winter in the tropics where coffee has been traditionally grown in shade coffee systems. Environmental groups have promoted the consumption of bird-friendly coffee because small-scale, shade-grown coffee plantations have demonstrated higher levels of biodiversity in birds, trees, and many other species. Ethical labeling has become a popular tactic for environmental movements from organic agriculture to fisheries conservation to timber certifications.
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