Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The delicious answer to global warming...

...is a curry.

While you are constantly nagged about the size of your carbon footprint, there are millions of livestock out there merrily emitting methane to their hearts’ content.

Every day, Britain’s 10 million-odd cows produce about 500 litres of methane per head – or rather per bottom, with around 30 million sheep pumping out 20 litres each. That’s an awful lot of a potent (and smelly) greenhouse gas.


And now scientists have an answer. After much experimentation, they have determined that coriander, turmeric and cumin have impressive anti-bacterial properties, reducing the amount of methane produced in an animal's gut, with obvious environmental benefits – at least for those in close proximity.

There's nothing new in the use of these and other plant remedies for stomach complaints - even in the pharmacy-ridden developed world you can buy mint-based remedies, and gripe water contains a decoction of dill or fennel seeds (in my early childhood, it contained 3.6% alcohol as well, but that's another story).

The newsworthiness of this revelation will doubtless cause much amusement in the parts of the world still using these spices medicinally – in fact, there is much to suggest that their inclusion in curries is mainly for their contribution to digestive health*.

Sadly the spices in question would simply be added to animal feed so we shan’t be treated to the sight of Daisy’s vegetable korma with extra poppadoms being delivered to a farm near you.


*If they substantially reduce intestinal gas, it rather begs the question of what our town centre venues would be like without their inclusion in the post-pub curry – and how many rugby players would be facing embarrassing trips to the burns unit.

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