The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Say Yes To Meat

November 1st, 2009 · 3 Comments · Posted in Industrial agriculture, Sustainability

Yes, meat can be raised sustainably

Yes, meat can be raised sustainably

Do read this op-ed in the New York Times in which Nicolette Hahn Niman, of the Niman Ranch meat family, convincingly argues that meat does not have to be bad for the environment. And since we believe a plant-based diet is nutritionally inferior, we are glad to hear it.

Niman, who is also a lawyer and author of the recently published “Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms,” marshals a number of studies and good authorities to show that the climate villain where meat is concerned is industrial farming on the grand scale to which we humans have recently become accustomed. Cutting down forests to grow soybeans to feed cattle and chickens releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. Raising animals in huge confinement lots that produce giant manure lagoons means vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas even worse the carbon dioxide. In fact, one of the world’s biggest producers of agricultural methane is wetland rice production.

In contrast, allowing livestock to forage on natural pasture not only results in much less greenhouse gas but actually promotes sequestration of carbon in the soil. Niman urges consumers to stop buying conventionally produced meats and put their dollars into local meat and dairy raised naturally on grass.

The only problem, of course, is that there aren’t enough of those local grass farmers to feed everyone. Local, grass-fed meat and dairy products cost more. But this is a good place to start–much better, we think, than trying to shame everyone into going meatless.

So support your local farmer and enjoy a grass-fed steak. Have a “Riceless Monday” instead.

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  • fastweedpuller

    What’s interesting of course about Ms Niman is that she’s a vegetarian…who married a rancher.

  • Ed Bruske

    El, I didn’t know that about Ms. Niman. That does make her story more interesting. What happened to Niman Ranch was tragic. They lost their herd when the comapany unwound and had to build a new one. They’ve since started writing jointly for the Atlantic Food Channel. They had a compelling piece recently about the death of one of their favorite brood cows.

  • lizzyjozi

    Well, it looks like it should be ‘Say LESS to meat’ rather than yes.
    Meat-less rather than meatless.

    I too find it best to eat some meat, for now, and feed it to my kids most days. I do wish someone would figure out what’s a healthy level of meat consumption for adults and kids respectively – definitely less than the average US or South African diet.