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.
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- Behind each of their works are countless studies and sketches.
- The lesson? Never erase anything, keep iterating, and find new paths to familiar destinations.
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Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod
Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.
Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome
PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.
Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young
Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.
Finalist: Practera - Nikki James
Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.
Thank you to our judges!
Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.
Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.
Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.
Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.
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