Cattle and carbon

January 12, 2008

We’ve all heard the rant that cattle contribute to global warming. “Cattle Free by ’93” was the battlecry of non-rural “environmentalists” in the late 80s and early 90s – a reference to getting cattle off of public lands. Today, I hear mis-informed critics blaming cattle for their large carbon “footprint” and calling for people to eat less meat if they want to fight global warming. It’s unfair to blame animals for human activity. 

The irony is that our work – and that of all grassfed beef producers who manage thier land well – actually reduces carbon emissions – we’re beyond “carbon nuetral,” we’re carbon negative.  Well managed grasslands are one of the earth’s best weapons against global warming. Here’s a quick ecology lesson: cattle turn the soil with thier hooves, fertilize it with their dung and urine and regenerate new plant growth. Plants reduce carbon emissions. The key word here is “managed.” Overgrazing, no doubt, leaves a barren landscape that cannot capture carbon. Well-managed herds, though, actually improve the carbon cycle by encouraging new growth, deep roots and  lush landscapes. Visit www.carbonfarmersofamerica.com to learn more. And make sure you know how your food was produced … you can fight global warming by supporting the farmers and ranchers who work everyday to reduce carbon emissions.

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2 Responses to “Cattle and carbon”

  1. emceekate Says:

    Nice summary, Julie. Handy to have in my ‘back pocket’ for when i meet someone who can use the info. By the way, I have to ask – the other night mom said you cried when you all were talking about me not finishing my book. The curiosity is killing me – what exactly was the source of sadness?

  2. localfood Says:

    Thanks, Katie. Hope I don’t sound too angry or preachy. We were talking about your book the other night, but I don’t recall crying. I was telling your Mom that I see La Caverna as a foundation for your future successes as a writer. Published or not, it has been a valuable exercise for you. Sad for its closure, but happy for the doors it will open for you.


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