Side Note: If you want to meet some awesome students searching for health and fitness on Facebook, join the College Paleo facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/551712631528215/
This is Part 3 of a 3 part series on Grass Fed Beef. We decided to write these posts not only to inform you, the reader, but also to give you confidence in making a case for getting grass fed beef at your school. Find parts 1 and 2 Here and Here
Part 3: Planet Health
It’s funny how nature works. Leaves fall from trees, mulch the ground, and eventually, more trees grow. For some reason, starting with the invention of agriculture, we thought that this process needed to be changed. We started tearing apart top soil, sprouting river damns and raking our leaves. We started to think of the natural world as our possession, instead of something that we participate in. This phenomenon has led us in some really productive paths, and it has also led us down the road of war, global warming, malnutrition, amongst other human diseases.
Now, what does global warming and top soil destruction have to do with cows? It turns out, a whole lot.
Let’s start with the circle.
First, there is a cow. A cow grazes on grass, which is a perennial plant (meaning that it lives for more than two years), by cutting the blades of grass at a specific length that allows the plant to grow again. That cow is then rotated through a number of different fields to allow the grass to keep being cut and keep on growing new blades. This is sustainability. It is a system that rotates and keeps rotating without us adding any resources. The only thing that we humans have to do is move the cattle from plot to plot of green grass (aka: our participation in the circle). There are a few variations on this circle where chickens can also be added, to follow the cattle and eat the bugs out of the dung, but we will touch on this in a later post.
It is that simple. Using the circle, we can reduce top soil depletion by 80% The problem is, we are not doing this. Instead, we decided it makes more sense to force nature into tiny feedlots and pump them full of antibiotics, soy and corn. So why is this bad for the planet?
To start, factory farming is not sustainable. That means we will continually need to add resources (water, food, tractors, hay, barns, etc.) for it to work. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that we are running out of those resources!! Let’s go over some of those resources.
Its true, cows do need water to survive, duh. Then again, so does just about everything that is alive. You can pick and choose who you want to point your finger at when it comes to water consumption, but the truth is, we are going to use water. Grass fed beef will use less water than grain fed beef. Its hard to blame water depletion on a single food considering every food needs water to grow.
2. Fossil Fuel Emissions
Everyone knows, cows fart and burp out methane. Well, turns out there are a number of other fossil fuels other than methane. It also turns out that those other fossil fuels being released into the air are coming from commodity crops (corn, soy, wheat) and are also really really bad for the environment. Grass fed beef uses less carbon because there is little machinery needed to produce the beef. Grass fed beef also uses immensely less nitrous oxide, another major greenhouse gas, than commodity crops which are to blame for around 3/4 of the nitrous oxide emission through fertilization.
3. Top Soil
Quick review: Top soil is the very top layer of the earths soil. It is the densest portion of organic matter and microorganisms out of all soil. It is also where most of the biological activity occurs. Without top soil, we cannot grow food.
This is perhaps the most critical of the three resources mentioned here. Top soil is being reduced 17 times faster than nature can replace it. When cows poop on land, and grass is being cut, by cows, in the correct way, top soil is actually produced not diminished.
So, after a long few weeks of searching for some answers when it comes to grass fed vs. grain fed beef, it seems we have found a solid reason to go with the former. Grass fed is the way to go. Whether it be for your own health, animals health, or the planets health you want to be going with grass fed.