Happy Earth Day! While the call to action this year is planting new tree, I just love that the focus is on what individuals can DO. You know, instead of being told by private-jet setting, green-juicing celebrities that we need to stop/avoid/repent certain areas of our lifestyle. Yawn.
My focus for the last couple of years has been to minimize the amount of food waste we produce. I’ve always felt funky about throwing food out–knowing first hand all of the time, natural resources and human effort involved in getting us our edibles. My main challenge has been how to manage this with teaching small baby children how to eat and try new foods. For now, it’s basically a zero-tolerance food waste policy for Rancher and I, in order to offset the food that hits the floor and smears the little hair and faces of our munchkins. Because real life. Also, leftovers can be really bomb, and always a valuable time saver for this mom.
This also feels quite a bit more proactive, productive and realistic than the ever more frequent and radical cries to eliminate individual consumption of meat for the sake of Mother Earth. Too often those recommendations appeal to a lack of knowledge, an abundance of shaming, and a vacuum filled with superficial sound bites that claim extremes (you’ve heard cows are worse than cars I’m sure. And I’m sure you didn’t fall for it?) where accurate science should be inserted. I fail to see how oversimplifying the issue of resource use in beef production in the name of this cause will put us in the right direction towards a sustainable food system in the long term.
This post shares some of the specific data and steps the beef community (ranchers like us, farmers and feeders, processors, butchers) has been taking to constantly measure and improve the sustainability of bringing you beef.
I meet dozens of others in the beef community every year who are so passionate about using the knowledge, science, and innovation available today blended with our ranching and food-providing heritage to keep going in a positive direction. This side of the story is pretty well marginalized by the simplified notion that not eating beef is the best thing for the planet.
I’d hope that our approach of constant improvement and staying open to ideas and technology that allow us to, sheds some light on how farmers & ranchers feel everyday, today included. If nothing else, today is about sharing ideas and our common ground appreciation of this planet, without which we wouldn’t be here. Just like our mamas. Oh look, loving our moms, yet another topic of common ground in this age of prolific argument. With that, this is Jenny Sunshine, signing off. LOL. But seriously, have a great Earth Day!
Ashley Broocks, Emily Andreini, Megan Rolf, Ph.D., and Sara Place, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University
This is a topic of discussion within the beef industry. The following article does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Beef Checkoff or the US Department of Agriculture.
Many people have suggested that removing beef from the human diet could significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In reality, completely removing beef from the diet would likely not result in huge declines in GHG emissions and would have negative implications for the sustainability of the U.S. food system.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beef cattle production was responsible for 1.9 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2013. Comparing food production (essential for human life) to transportation and electricity (non-essential for human survival, but important to our modern lifestyles) is problematic. Electricity and transportation produce much of the GHG emissions in the…
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