A provocative book examines the role of livestock farming and meat consumption in climate change.
Should meat be on the menu?
That’s the question posed in a provocative new book written by David Mason-Jones. And, for just $4.99, those of you with e-readers can purchase the book and find his answers to that question.
According to the book description on Amazon.com, “This book explores the widely held misconception that sheep, cattle and other grazing animals are responsible for an enormous net production of new global warming gases. The reality is that livestock are part of a closed atmospheric carbon cycle where the carbon they emit is equal to the carbon they take in. With the information in this book, food lovers who enjoy eating meat, chefs, restaurant owners, catering managers, cooks at home in their own kitchens and the general public, can feel confident that they can put meat on the menu without fear of warming the earth. Not only are sheep and cattle neutral with respect to the carbon cycle, they can be the positive agents by which carbon dioxide can be drawn down from the atmosphere and sequestered in farmland soils. Read how farmers and graziers, together with their plants and animals, can be the heroes of the environmental movement.”
A contradiction to highly-acclaimed books like Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, that criticize animal agriculture and blame meat-eating on everything from obesity, to heart disease, to global warming, Mason-Jones takes a less popular, more accurate angle -- promoting beef production as a healthy addition to the planet’s carbon cycle and touting ranchers as outstanding stewards of the land. His stance is polar opposite of many books in this genre, and it’s because of this, that his work is considered sensational and provocative; however, he is simply reiterating to his readers what producers already know -- farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists.
Fact: Agriculture was green before green was cool!
Without a doubt, this book will spark a discussion on beef production and the environment. The Meatless Monday trend continues to grow, as consumers attempt to lower their global footprint by foregoing meat at least once a week. Many might be surprised to learn that this sacrifice isn’t necessary. Perhaps riding a bike to run errands instead of taking a vehicle, recycling and reusing old goods are better options for doing your part in caring for the planet.
Here are a few facts from Explorebeef.org that are relevant to this discussion:
“Today’s cattlemen are significantly more environmentally sustainable than they were 30 years ago. A study by Washington State University in 2007 found that today’s farmers and ranchers raise 13% more beef from 30% fewer cattle. When compared with beef production in 1977, each pound of beef produced today:
- Produces 16% less carbon emissions,
- Takes 33% less land, and
- Requires 12% less water.
“The U.S. cattle industry continues to be a model for the rest of the world in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, beef production accounts for only 2.8% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 26% for transportation.”
Have you checked out BEEF magazine’s Earth Day page? If you’re interested in beef production and the environment, this resource is a compilation of articles related to this subject.
From the Earth Day page: “As ranchers, we labor to grow a healthy and nutritious product while efficiently and sustainably caring for the environment and animals under our stewardship. Our romantic history with the land dates back longer than any anti-agriculture trend or activist group, but while our role in this world is just as important as in the past, our numbers have dramatically shrunk.”
Check out the Earth Day page here.
Will you be reading the book, “Should Meat Be On The Menu?” How do you care for the environment as a rancher? What makes you a good steward of the land?