Beef on the Street's snapshot of Torontonian perspectives

What has a bigger impact on the environment: a car or a cow? That was just one of the 20 questions professional home economist Mairlyn Smith asked people on the streets of Toronto last fall, in a film project called “Beef on the Street.”

The project, initiated by the Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Cattle Feeders Association, aimed to provide a quick look at random Torontonians’ perspectives on food, ranching, and the environment.

Of the 30 people interviewed, Smith says 23 made the cut for the car vs cow question, with 15 answering ‘car’ and the other eight saying ‘cow.’

“It just occurred to me that the people who had the loudest voices that we hear on social media are the ones that are yelling ‘cow, cow, cow,’ where in fact the answer is ‘car, car, car’.”

Smith says she believes in eating beef for both the environment (particularly the grasslands), and for its nutritional profile. Her goal, as she describes it in the following interview, is to show all sides of all stories, and let people make decisions based on fact and science.

“I’m a very inclusive eater — I think there’s room on our plate for everything, and it makes me sad when people make very important nutrition decisions based on misinformation.”

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