December 20, 2014

Raising Beef Is Good For The Earth

Contrary to the claims of some vegetarians and environmentalists, raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet.  That is focus of an article by Nicolette Hahn Niman in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.  Read whole article here.

Several points made by the author include that grasslands for cattle safeguard soil, water, and land.  She points out that most of the world's cattle live on land that cannot be used for crop cultivation, and in the United States, 85% of the land grazed by cattle cannot be farmed.

Cattle are key to the world's most promising strategy to counter global warming: restoring carbon to the soil.  That is because grasslands for cattle are not plowed and is therefore ideal for recapturing carbon through photosynthesis and for holding it in stable forms.

In response to critics who assert there is a high useage of water required for every pound of beef, the author points out that producing a typical pound of beef takes only about 441 gallons of water (compared to 2500 gallons asserted by critics).  This is about the same amount of water used to produce a pound of rice - and beef is far more nutritious.

Finally, Niman notes that "the bovine's most striking attribute is that it can live on a simple diet of grass, which it forages for itself.