Short Film Reveals The Secret Life of Beef

10/25/2010 10:20 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Livestock today consume 5 times as much grain as the entire American population, the average meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to fork, and seven football fields' worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.

But it doesn't have to be all doom-and-gloom. We as consumers still have options, which, over time, can change our economy. It's this idea that drives INFORM -- the educational and advocacy nonprofit that raises environmental consciousness for the general public through visual media. Its "Secret Life" film series, seen by over 2 million viewers in 80 countries, examines the lifecycle environmental impact of everyday objects we all consume.

"We focus on solutions, not just problems. Solutions that individuals can easily embrace," says Virginia Ramsey, president of INFORM. "Our perspective is that environmental illiteracy is arguably as grave a threat to the future of the planet as is global warming. That's why our short, entertaining, nonpartisan films like The Secret Life of Beef aim to offer environmental basics to the masses."

"People don't want to hurt the planet. They often just don't know better," Ramsey adds, "Too few beef eaters in this country know the connection between the dietary choices they make and the environmental damage caused by industrialized beef production. What we want to show the public with The Secret Life of Beef is simple, concrete steps to becoming a sustainable consumer."

Founded back in 1973, INFORM was originally a research organization and produced 117 in-depth reports for government and business officials on a range of environmental challenges. When its founder stepped aside in 2006, INFORM re-envisioned itself for the 21st century -- shifting both its target audience from thought leaders to the general public, and its medium from print to film.

With only 18% of Americans taking action in their daily lives to combat global warming. INFORM wants to use on- and off-line outreach to get its short films onto screens everywhere, including schools, hospitals, state and municipal governments, planes and taxicabs, movie theaters and faith-based communities. If you'd like to show The Secret Life of Beef to your group or organization, or if you have ideas on how to help get the word out, or would like to volunteer with INFORM, please write here.