the Ethics of Food & Why Grass-fed is Key

by | | Eat for a Healthy Gut

Why is Grass-fed Better?

When looking at the ethics around our carbon output and industrial agriculture there is a good argument for supporting small scale farming practices.  Grass-fed animals actually support soil quality while providing nutrient dense food.  ‘Recovering vegetarian’ or ‘pegan’  describes this trend towards a pale/vegan diet.  Pegan was coined by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD and illustrates the similarities of a vegan and paleo diet.

Nobody likes factory farming, industrial agriculture or the harm to land and animals that result.  Most people who are health conscious have been a vegetarian or vegan at some point.  However, meat from grass-fed animals is a source of omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory.  It is a valuable source of K2 which is essential for bone health.

What is our relationship to where food comes from?  Real solutions emerge from this kind of dialogue, not a moral debate that says all meat is bad for us.  What is going to be sustainable is people being closer to their food systems and tending the soil.  Grass-fed animals can help with this and climate change. 

Local Food Works

Eating an ancestral diet helps people reclaim their health.  Its also reconnects people with their food systems.  Its about nurturing a world that is sustainable for our children and their children. The solutions are simple: grow vegetables in a way that mimics the natural world.  Nourish the soil and raise animals in the grass-fed model.  Small scale farming is being used in Brazil, Hawaii and on Salt Spring Island to name a few places.  And it’s working.

The local movement is building from the ground up.  Corporations will never support this kind of decentralization but people understand the importance and the intelligence of eating locally. so its spreading quickly.  I’m currently in a small town in Mexico.  I look around and see it all happening in front of me.  The people who harvest their own food benefit from this local wealth.  Fish, pork, chickens, fruit and produce of all kinds is produced. 

There are also mass amounts of cheap GMO corn along and all the processed, sugary junk that corporations give away for almost nothing.  We are staying with a lovely family.  We talk about parenting, technology and food.  The 6 year old boy wants to climb banana trees like my kid does when they play.  Him and his father are both at risk for diabetes largely because of the corporate agenda in Mexico. 

Is Meat Bad?  

There is still lot of anti-meat, anti-saturated fat rhetoric in the mainstream media.  It’s a heated debate but a new study levels the field.  Red meat is not linked with the ills we once thought it was.  And the standard story that saturated fat is causing high cholesterol causing heart disease is debunked in this article.  

We know grass-fed meat is nutrient dense. Meat is like exercise in the way that too much or not enough can be hard on the body.  Raising animals can be environmental sustainable and ethical when done properly.  Invest in the farmers who are committed to this approach.  The idea that meat is bad and vegetables are good is ridiculous.  Humans have always been omnivores.  It’s how we evolved.

Grain Can’t Solve World Hunger

Let’s talk about the grain versus meat thing.  It turns out that enormous mono crops of GMO soy, corn and wheat have not solved world hunger.   We need to discuss these limitations of industrial agriculture and where  grass-fed or grazing animals come in.  Much of the planet is not conducive to cropping.  Animals can graze on lands that will never grow grain. 

Industrial agriculture is the second largest environmental polluter.  Humans, plants and animals are being negatively affected by the fungicides, pesticides and diverted water.  Grains lack nutrients, in fact they are the lowest in nutrient density.  They are fillers and used in highly refined, processed foods.  These are known to contribute to the epidemic of diabetes, heart disease and cancer that we currently face.

How Grass-fed Lowers Our Carbon Footprint

Grass-fed animals are using the sun’s energy directly.  Conventional practices take an enormous amount of energy, not to mention the unsustainable practices needed to make it happen.  Why wouldn’t we harness nature and embrace how ecosystems include both animals and plants. Biodiversity equals resiliency.  Animals provide natural fertilizer for the soil.  By moving around they help the soil.  The manure gets stomped into the topsoil.  Healthy soil actually removes and stores carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.  This is another reason grass-fed animals make sense.

Energy Conservation & Diversity

How things are going now is not good.  Once the topsoil is gone it doesn’t matter how much chemical fertilizer we use. Nothing is there to grow. Animal husbandry in westernized society isn’t using any of these practices anymore. Overgrazing is happening.  Pasture quality has decreased.  My dad was a farmer.  I ask him about all this and he knows how differently it looked just 30 years ago.  Predator pressure meant herds stay tightly together to protect one another. Then the cattle would eat everything and move on which is ideal for plant life. Perennial grasslands with a lot of diversity result.  The soil is happy.

Putting more animals on smaller patches of land and moving them frequently is better. It retains carbon and water in the soil.  It also diversifies the microbiome by allowing fungus and bacteria to thrive. This is just ecology.  If humans got out of the way it’s what would happen.  Working with nature makes so much sense.

Trends in Meat Consumption:  Prepare to be surprised

People are eating less meat than they were 50 years ago.  To be exact less beef is being consumed but more poultry.  This is largely because we found a way to produce chickens that is very inexpensive.  And people were misinformed.  Red meat became evil and we forgot about the health benefits of eating grazing animals.  Chickens don’t eat grass.  Even organic chicken is raised in factories and eats grain.  Chicken doesn’t have much B12 or iron whereas red meat is our best source of both.

What are the biggest nutrient deficiencies worldwide?  Low iron and B12 contribute to serious health issues including neuropathy, insomnia and depression.  These deficiencies can result in irreversible symptoms. Infants and elders are affected the most.

Energy & Essential Minerals

When we don’t harness nature, phosphorous and other minerals get trucked in which is an incredibly costly. Mining and moving these minerals in trucks has a huge carbon footprint. In biodiverse grasslands, fungus also sequestering carbon and works with the root systems.  The sun shines, the cows trample around, the mushrooms thrive and the soil is happy.  Voila!  Observing the way that natural systems have been doing this for 6,000 or maybe a billion years really does work beautifully.


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