Search This Blog

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Meat Production

National Geographic has been running a lot of articles on food and food production.  This one on beef production is well done. Proponents of Paleo, Vegan and Vegetarian diets seem to think we are doing huge damage to the environment by eating meat.  They are missing something.  First, cattle, sheep, goats, and other ruminants spend much of their life converting grasses and forages that grow on less productive land into food that we can eat.  If we all stopped eating meat, why would people keep cattle on that land.  What would fill that ecological void.  Another thing to consider is crop production.  While some would dispute the fact, we seem to grow all the fruit and vegetables that the market demands.  Cutting back on grain demand by not eating meat would have a huge negative impact on the global economy.  What would become of those acres that are currently used to grow feed?  Who would decide which farmers go bankrupt? 

In less developed countries, poultry and swine also take advantage of foods that we humans are not really hungry for.  Chickens in Africa pick at seeds and insects and convert those to good quality protein for human consumption.  Hogs often are the local garbage disposal and eat food waste that we do not want.  Even in the cattle business, cattle are fed distillers grains and citrus pulp that would otherwise go to waste.

Yes we need to work on better distributing the animal waste produced in large operations.  We need to be cautious about feed additives.  But in the end, animal agriculture is good for our health and good for our economy, and it is possible to produce meat even in large operations, in ways that are environmentally sensitive. 

No comments: