MONTREAL -- A newly published blueprint for doubling the global food supply includes a key suggestion about how everyone can contribute to this increasingly pressing ambition: eat less meat.
An international team of researchers has developed solutions to respond to what it calls one the greatest challenges of the 21st century -- boosting food production while slashing the environmental impact of agriculture.
The research, which will be featured on the cover page of the Oct. 20 edition of the journal Nature, comes as international concern grows over how the planet will feed the rapidly expanding human population.
Today I amused myself by writing a commentary on the Eat Less Meat article. Here is the article followed by my remarks.
Solution to world hunger? Eat less meat, new study urges
MONTREAL -- A newly published blueprint for doubling the global food supply includes a key suggestion about how everyone can contribute to this increasingly pressing ambition: eat less meat. An international team of researchers has developed solutions to respond to what it calls one the greatest challenges of the 21st century -- boosting food production while slashing the environmental impact of agriculture. The research, which will be featured on the cover page of the Oct. 20 edition of the journal Nature, comes as international concern grows over how the planet will feed the rapidly expanding human population. With the world's population expected to climb from 6.9 billion to 9 billion by 2050, the issue of food was put at the top of this year's G20 agenda. The study, published online Wednesday, says there are already a billion people who don't have enough to eat. McGill University's Navin Ramankutty, one of the team leaders on the paper, said the research is the first of its kind to quantify both food production and ecological consequences in the same analysis. He added that it's also the first study to examine these factors while considering the specific environmental characteristics of different regions of the planet. Ramankutty said limiting meat consumption is one of several ways to increase food production. He estimates that simply dedicating prime cropland to growing food for humans -- rather than growing biofuels or feed for animals -- could spike the global output by nearly 50 per cent. The study says that three-quarters of the world's agricultural land is devoted to raising livestock, either for grazing or for growing feed. Ramankutty added that beef is the most resource-intensive animal product of them all. "That doesn't mean we all have to become vegetarians and vegans, but even if you... eat meat one or two days less a week, you can hugely contribute to the amount of food that's needed," Ramankutty, himself a meat-eater, said. "It would have a huge impact, but this also happens to be one of those things where people are much more personally attached to it." He said that scientists in his field rarely raised diet as an issue in the past because they didn't want to infringe on a person's right to choose. But Ramankutty said fewer researchers are staying quiet on this subject, particularly when the consequences have global environmental impacts. Changes to the human diet are only one component of the study's strategy to double the global food supply. The research also calls for improved crop management to increase yields; an end to deforestation to make way for farmland; and a cutback on food waste, which accounts for as much as half of the planetary food production. The catch? Ensuring these strategies are adopted on a global scale. Ramankutty laughed when asked about the likelihood of these tactics being implemented in his lifetime. "To be honest, I'm probably pessimistic about it, but I always think that optimism is the only choice we have," the geographer said.
Any time I hear celebrity cooks, and other non farmers, in this case a geologist, Navin Ramankutty, announcing his answer to world hunger, I sigh deeply. In this case I have read only the above article. I await the pleasure of seeing the original publication. But I can state right now, eating less meat has no bearing on the issue of world hunger any more than supposing that if I spend less money there will be more money in the pockets of the needy. Neither meat nor money works that way and when you see these feel-good pronouncements, look behind the door for who profits. Alternatively, find a high minded soul who doesn’t do his homework.
Here are some of the weaknesses in the eat-less-meat argument. I will have to compress my remarks so if I don’t make myself clear, questions are welcome.
People are starving right now and there is food available from a number of sources. It is not equitably distributed partly because somebody had to pay for that food and whoever now owns it will not part with it without recovering his investment either by selling it or by gaining political advantage. This is not new. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt did business this way. Are we to delude ourselves that those in power in the year 2050 will distribute food without fear or favor?
Geologist Ramankutty claims that this is the first major report which attempts to quantify ecological damage parallel with agricultural projections. This is by no means true but maybe this one is illustrated with impressive new bar graphs. I appreciate the criticism of biofuels, which I am able to support only if the biofuel is carefully harvested from managed woodlands by small holders. Growing corn as fuel I find completely indefensible.
The complaint that feed is being grown for animals, coulda shoulda been grown for people, and consequently is a wasteful use of land and grain has now been repeated so often that most people don’t question it. If you read it real fast and don’t have the on-farm experience to picture what is really happening, the flaws in the argument may pass unnoticed. Firstly, it is actually a restatement of the belief in equitable distribution, the hypothesis that if 10 million acres of corn were not in biofuel nor was fed to animals, then it would be planted to food crops and fed to humans. Is there some evidence anywhere at all that this would occur?
Small farms are not included in this social engineering.
In the real world of small farming, we have rotations of crops, some of which go to humans and some to animals to mutual benefit. There is little competition between people and animals; they share a productive web.
As farming is now being managed, megafarms, which are investment opportunities, provide grain for the highest bidder. Or increasingly the land and crop is owned by a vertically integrated holding which includes animals, a further investment opportunity. If a grain crop is fed to pigs or chickens they grow well and provide a rapid return on investment. If fed to steers, it is declared to be a waste because unlike a chicken, the steer does not double his weight every two weeks. On a small farm the steer spends most of his life after weaning grazing on the world’s cheapest food and may or may not get some grain. He does not compete for food with the family, my goodness no, he is the food. Neither is he competing with the pigs and chickens. Just try turning the situation upside down, making the chickens and pigs live on grass, then see who looks inefficient. Cattle are being forced into an unnatural comparison. But let’s also be fair to the pigs, chickens, sheep and goats, if any. They aren’t competing either. The chickens and pigs get mostly stuff nobody else wants and the sheep and goats graze land nobody else needs.
Sweeping statements about the use of land worldwide for feeding animals are meaningless and intended as propaganda unless a distinction is made between arable and grazing land. Mostly the two acreages are combined into a grand total with animals, chiefly cattle, being accused of using too much land. In few instances is grazing land wanted as arable, consequently grazing animals are its highest and best use. Taking beef cattle out of their natural environment, feeding them an unnatural diet and then declaring that they are the most resource intensive livestock is a statement possible only to the willfully ignorant. Why should I believe anything else they say?
The authors of the new McGill study being published in Nature speak of “improved management” and “global”. It is here that we cut to the chase. This is the same stealth language used in the report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, which groundlessly accuses animals of contributing 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG). The case is then made that if you will please get out of the way and let the big boys manage worldwide agriculture it will be a lot more “efficient”. How? By getting all the animals off the land (Oh goody, less ecological damage) and into CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) and then planting the animal-free lands of Africa, the US, India and China and everywhere else to GMO crops.
Way to go, Joann! Everything you said is so true. Our pigs are eating basically pressed apples, sour milk, scraps that we would otherwise throw out and corn cobs. With all our scraps these guys are going to give us over 100 lbs of meat to feed our family. Instead of wasting our leftover food we're recycling it and getting food from it.
I don't know why people blame hunger on animals. I think we should be blaming the owners of these feedlots if anyone. A cow does not need any grain to go from calf to roast beef. Hay, grass, water are all it needs. But now these big commercial companies feed their livestock tons of grain and no grass since it's the cheapest, fastest way to do things. It's not good for the cow, the consumer, world hunger or the land, etc. but it's sure nice for the person operating these feedlots. (Monsanto loves it. This country's beef is fed GMO grain and Monsanto's antibiotics/drugs/growth hormone)
Also about feeding 9 billion people... Do you know how much food (on average) an American wastes per year? Crazy, crazy, crazy amounts of food. This food Americans could eat (not waste) or feed to animals (recycle).
Okay another argument for the "eat less meat thing" is the land issue. People say with the land we raise cattle we could grow a more productive vegetable source of protein. Did you know our body absorbs protein from animal sources better than from vegetable sources? Secondly, not all land can be used for growing grains and vegetables as farmers know. (I'm not sure if geologists and such know this!) Also I'm not sure if people realize that there are other animals to eat other than cows and pigs and chickens. Goats can thrive in areas cows and veggies/grains can't. We can eat goat. Fowl, rabbits and smaller animals do not need as much space and food as their larger counterparts. It's about diversity, not wasting the food we do have and working on better ways to produce our meat.
The book "the vegetarian myth" is excellent. The environmental impact of eating grains is as bad, if not worse, than eating meat. Thoroughly recommend the book!
Farmer Farmer's wife Mother to 1 big farmer and 3 small farmers with another little farmer on the way! Gardener Cow Milker Lactivist Natural Schooler Natural Parent Natural Birther Mastiff Breeder Prepper
Carer and friend to: 2 pregnant Jerseys - Ginger and Rosie; 1 mumma Jersey - Blossy; 2 baby Jerseys - Brisket (boy) and Flower (girl)
If I had to grow crops to feed myself on my land, I would starve.
losingcreekfarm.blogspot.com/ Tinkerbelle and Anna II (sold) Belle-AKA Miss Swiss-Braunvieh Cocoa-Brown Swiss/Jersey-The most wonderful cow I've had the pleasure to milk! (passed) Cocoa's Twin heifers (sold) Abby-English Shepherd Hazel (passed), Sampson-G.P. Tiger-Cat (gone) Assorted hens and roosters (gone) Sadie (oops daughter of Hazel)
I think this should be published as a poster in dark bold letters over a light silhouette of a cow or a farm scene as a backdrop. I'd buy 10 if you printed them tomorrow. Maybe FTCLD would like to print them as a fund raiser. Or for KFC. Or just for you to get paid, Joann.
Thanks for writing this out. I'm bookmarking for future reference.
Some may enjoy reading expanded commentary on this subject in three essays I wrote. These can be found under Commentaries on my web page at www.real-food.com The critique on a NYTimes article by Mark Bittman is particularly directed at the eat-less-meat idea.
Before long I hope to have my September talk at the MOFGA fair edited and ready to add.
The Re-Treat Farm Ronnie, my love of 36 yrs - 2 grown kids Pete the cow dog, Casey, up and coming cow dog cats - Molly, Buck Kitty horse: Rex - mules: Deetz, Darlene, Mick Jersey - Bess Jersey/Normande - Daisy Jersey/Corriente - Gretchen various chickens, calves, occasional turkeys, pigs
claytonpaul: A bull was put on her herd Late Last May so she was expected to be due between May1 and August. They quoted me August so I wouldn't be disappointing by a late arrival.
May 23, 2019 13:07:11 GMT -5
Trim: I'm baaaaacccckkkk!
Aug 31, 2019 17:57:22 GMT -5
alpacalexi: My mini jersey cow is pregnant, however the last couple days her udder has deflated. My vet saw her on the 23 and said delivery in a couple weeks Is there a reason for her deflating?
Oct 2, 2019 17:17:00 GMT -5
Trim: She probably aborted a while back. That happened to one of my animals. She was bagging up but within a short while of her "due date" she began to deflate. I had no idea what had happened. I was seriously bummed out.
Feb 8, 2020 20:46:23 GMT -5
mamacherri10: good afternoon! I have not been on the website in a long time. Have a new jersey milk cow and am looking to see how long she needs to be dried up prior to calving? She is due the third week of May.
Mar 10, 2020 14:33:11 GMT -5
steven888: Dry her up now, she needs 6 wks of rest.
Apr 1, 2020 2:05:11 GMT -5
highlandteen: five to six weeks is generally suggested
May 7, 2020 14:39:23 GMT -5
biubiu: I think that CBD oil will be more popular. Because in is nice product for medicine and for simple guys.
Sept 15, 2020 14:31:42 GMT -5
guernseygirl: Can someone let me know if my pictures are showing up in the Auction Barn post? There should be 5 photos
Sept 20, 2020 20:58:54 GMT -5
wyatt: I treat cow s like people when doctoring.
Dec 15, 2020 22:54:52 GMT -5
This book is intended as an inspirational manual for keeping a family milk cow. A lifetime of practical experience has been bound into one volume. Practical advice for the everyday and procedures for cow emergencies. Plus, answers to FAQ's like, 'Should you get a cow?' and 'How Much Space do I need?'