Recently an article from New Zealand featured a talk by Nora Gedgaudas who claimed that grass fed meat could save the planet.* She focused her talk on the nutritional aspects of animal based proteins and fats.
Was Nora right?
Here are some additional insights:
To grass feed cattle from weaning to finishing, on totally organic pastures, requires a high level of hands-on grazing management, preferably using some form of ultra-high density grazing, or mob grazing. Such methods are somewhat more labor intensive in the short-run but they have many advantages. For one thing, such grazing actually restores nutrients to the soil, and adds a significant amount of organic material. In that way, large amounts of carbon are sequestered into the soil. Together, these impacts not only stop desertification, they begin to rebuild topsoil and rejuvenate the soil, prepping it for organic crop production. So proper grass fed grazing eliminates the erosion caused by overgrazing and actually begins to restore the planet to productive health. Moreover, the amount of carbon sequestered by the action of cattle trampling organic material into the soil more than offsets the methane produced by the grazing cattle. The bottom line: modern grass fed cattle grazing stops deserts from forming, rejuvenates the soil and cleans the air of carbon dioxide.
In addition to healing the soil, managing cattle herds in this fashion creates healthy cattle that are no longer dependent on antibiotics and other chemicals added to the pastures. And since such cattle are healthier, they no longer need multiple vaccinations. And reducing the vast quantity of antibiotics used on cattle and other livestock will only reduce the rate at which vaccines lose their effectiveness in treating human pathogens.
Now, with the soil healthier and the animals healthier, the food production is naturally much more healthy for the consumers. In fact, now the grass fed beef raised on organic pastures is completely healthy. Why? For one, the fats, yes the saturated fats, are excellent sources of nutrients. And saturated fats are NOT the cause of heart disease, despite what you may have heard or believed to the contrary. In fact, the original research that led to the widespread canard was completely fraudulent. Look up Ancel Keys and check out the difference in the graph he showed with 7 data points that seemed to show perfect correlation between the quantity of saturated fats consumed and heart disease, and the true graph using all 22 data points that Keys possessed but did not show. Basically, Keys misrepresented his data and the government (FDA) and the processed oil industry began scaring everyone about saturated fats. Yet, it was all a lie.
In addition, grass fed meats are an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA for short), an excellent cancer, diabetes and obesity fighter. Best of all, by basing diets largely on animal fats and organic produce, the cravings for sugars and high fructose corn syrups goes way down. The result, much less obesity, disease, diabetes, cancers and chronic illnesses, and at the same time much greater energy, stamina, mental acuity and overall health.
To sum, the grass fed cattle movement including advanced grazing management techniques, is good for the earth, is great for the health of the animals, and provides superior nutrition for humankind. Ms. Gedgaudas was right. Grass fed cattle can save the planet.
That is all well and good. But what can you do to benefit from these insights? Have you tried shopping for grass fed beef? Do you know any local ranchers who can sell you a quarter of a beef? Do you have the freezer space to store that much?
In later posts I will talk about some of these challenges.
In the meantime, we welcome your support for the “Feed them healthy!” campaign.