How Meat Can Be Green
Author and food activist Nina Planck was raised on a family farm in Virginia, where she learned to appreciate "real," traditional foods. She worked as a reporter for TIME Magazine and wrote speeches for the U.S. ambassador to London before opening the first farmers’ markets in London. Today her company, London Farmers’ Markets, runs fourteen markets. She is the author of two books: "Real Food: What to Eat and Why," and "Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods."
Planck is a Big Think Delphi Fellow.
Question: Is eating "real \r\nfood"\r\nenvironmentally responsible?\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNina Planck: \r\nEating\r\nreal food is absolutely environmentally responsible, if by real food we \r\nlook to\r\nfoods of animal origin – that is meat, dairy and eggs – to traditional \r\nmethods of\r\nproduction. So the argument which was most forcefully made by Francis \r\nMoore\r\nLappe in "Diet for a Small Planet" that meat production is\r\nenvironmentally destructive and even socially unjust was sound insofar \r\nas it\r\nwent because it was a critique of industrial meat production. If we look to traditional methods of\r\nproduction, which we call grass farming in a very simple definition that\r\n is\r\nraising animals for meat on grass and raising… Those\r\n are beef, dairy, cattle and lamb and raising chicken and\r\npigs on pasture, but with supplemental feed because they’re omnivores \r\ntoo. If we look to those methods we find\r\nthat those are not only environmentally sound, but enhance the\r\nenvironment. They make use of\r\nun-farmable land. They can even\r\nenhance riparian areas. Those are\r\nwetlands. And certainly there are\r\nno unpleasant and costly byproducts from raising animals that way and \r\nI’ll just\r\ncite one example, cattle manure is a major environmental waste product. It is housed in what are called manure\r\nlagoons. They’re basically huge\r\ncesspools near industrial cattle and hog operations. There\r\n are so-called environmental grants in order to create\r\nimpermeable pools. That is cement\r\nfloors for these pools to keep this waste product from leaching into\r\ngroundwater. This is what passes\r\nfor environmental legislation, right? \r\nWe give you a grant to keep a waste product out of the \r\ngroundwater. Much simpler to let the cattle walk\r\naround on grass and feed themselves rather than put them in a feedlot \r\nand stuff\r\nthem on grain where you have to remove the manure because in this way \r\nthe\r\nspread the manure around themselves on grass and pasture that needs it. Wendell Barry described – you know our\r\ngreat agronomy philosopher – described industrial cattle and hog \r\noperations as\r\nneatly dividing one solution into two problems, so the solution would be\r\n let\r\nthe animals feed themselves on grass and spread their manure themselves \r\nwith\r\ntheir own four hooves, rather than pooling their manure so that we then \r\nhave two\r\nproblems. One, ground that needs\r\nnitrogen fertilizer and two, a manure cesspool that needs… that becomes a\r\n toxic\r\nwaste dump.
While industrial meat production is environmentally destructive and socially unjust, raising animals for meat on in grass pastures actually enhances the environment.
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.
- How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
- To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.