I recently read a magazine article that got me a little fired up.
Dear Editor of Body and Soul Magazine,
I wanted to let you know that I love your magazine and read it from front to back as soon as it hits my mailbox. In the last issue (April 2010), you had an article titled “Healthy Vegetarian.” While most of the article was based on how to get more complete proteins and other nutrients in your diet if you are vegetarian or vegan, there were a few paragraphs that were aimed at trying to convince people to give up meat all together.
Even as an organic dairy, pork, poultry and beef producer, I agree that most American’s eat too much meat. Our lifestyles are too inactive now to allow for large portions of meat at most of our meals. I don’t agree that the elimination of meat (and there for the elimination of animal agriculture) is environmentally friendly. There is low impact meat production as well as high impact vegetable and fruit production.
To have low impact vegetable and fruit production, you need to include animals in a whole systems approach to raising food. Animals provide valuable natural nutrients to soil, can be used as low impact weeders and also pest (insect) controllers. Without animals, vegetable and fruit production can have a high environmental impact by creating a need for petroleum-based fertilizer, favoring mono-cultures and using chemical based pesticides.
In the United States animal agriculture only accounts for 2.7% of green house gases (GHG) according to an EPA study in 2007 (not the 20% stated in the article, based off of a 2006 UN study of the whole world). If there continues to be a strong demand for pasture based raised animals, we may actually see these number decrease because pasture land has shown to store carbon dioxide (CO2).
As consciousness consumers we need look beyond the debate of vegetables versus meat and start looking for whole systems approaches within farms or farming communities.
Thank you for interesting and thought provoking articles. I enjoy reading your magazine each month. As consumers we can have positive influences on the environment just by supporting food production that is in-tune with our values.
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com