“I really enjoy articles such as this one... even the controversy it stirs in some. Food is a core need - it SHOULD be more important than many seem to consider it today. Discussion brings information and perspective. The conflict of human empathy and emotion versus human need and survival are vital issues that should be addressed more often! If we can't face what makes us uncomfortable, why call ourselves human at all??”
“I'm not a professional yet by any means, but I've taken a few livestock production and agronomy classes in the last few years. I do eat meat and know my farmer. Yes, grazing livestock (especially multispecies grazing) is actually MUCH better for the land than the disturbed ecosystem we call modern agriculture.
However, it's not as calorie-efficient to eat meat, both in the factor of how much energy we get per comparative unit of meat compared to vegetation (10x less in meat), but also (at least in the case of modern CAFO's) the cost to haul that vegetation to the animals, and then haul the meat to the slaughterhouse doubles the amount of fossil fuel calories needed (compared to the hauling of pasture-fed meat or a load of produce).
In response to mapoleaf... I always considered it odd that humans choose to value the lives of animals more than plants. Isn't a life a life? Life, consumption, and death are one cycle - even plants exist in humus. Just perspective, I suppose...”
As Joel Salatin often rightly points out, there are countless problems with oversimplified reductions, such as that 10x figure. As you may know, it is actually very rare for a ruminant not to spend the majority of its life primarily eating inedible grasses. Even for CAFO animals, it is only for the end of their lives that they are switched to a grain based diet. And then of course, much of what they are fed is silage that humans don't consume. As far as processing and transportation goes, the studies that I have seen have been debunked for throwing in everything an the kitchen sink for animal ag, while completely ignoring that plant foods are shipped and processed in all sorts of ways, often multiple levels of processing ingredients that go back and forth across the country or even internationally, as well, making it virtually impossible for some kind of overly simplified one to one comparison to actually be meaningful. Personally, I think that when it comes to ruminants, grassfed is the best way to go, and I see many serious serious problems for plants and animals from industrial ag, both plant and animal.”
mapoleaf on Jul 3, 2011 at 22:00:43
“It takes ten times the resources: water, nutrients, grain, grasses (and all the attendant insects/rodents etc. that get killed in their harvesting, not to mention the 'nuisance' species like coyotes, foxes, wolves that prey on 'our' meat on the hoof), to produce animal protein versus plant protein. Eating lower on the food 'chain' is far less wasteful and kills far fewer sentient beings, and produces far fewer GHGs than relying on animals for protein. It isn't a question of putting animals above plants. It's about sustainability and compassion. Full stop.”
elcerritan on Jul 3, 2011 at 13:26:01
“It IS, however, very calorie-efficient to eat meat from pasture-raised animals that convert grasses, legumes and forbs that are not edible by humans into meat and milk that are. The calorie-efficiency argument is an argument against the CAFO system; it's not really an argument against eating meat. There are actually large areas of the world where plants with sufficient human bio-available nutrients can't be grown on a sufficient scale for people to survive unless they also eat meat and milk from grazing animals. I have yet to encounter a vegan who "gets" that, since veganism is predominantly a phenomenon of the middle-class urban/suburban (generally white) First World, where the average person -- and not just vegans, but they're generally REALLY bad -- is clueless about how food is actually produced.”
“For a cool treat on the 4th, I like to take a baking pan and fill it with vanilla yogurt (sometimes a crust on the bottom, sometimes not), and top it with chopped strawberries and blueberries in an American Flag pattern. Have used pudding & whipped cream in there, too. Super tasty, very east, fast, and looks great. Also easily modified for other recipes/holidays... like grapes & kiwi for St. Patrick's day, etc. Enjoy! :)”
“They're not getting RID of antibiotics. They're suing on the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics on HEALTHY livestock. They literally keep the bacteria in the digestive system that naturally exist to aid the cow from really "thriving", and thus requiring less nutrients from the cow "host" (it's a mutualistic symbiosis, not a parasitism), so the cow can put on more weight... only a few percentage points, but that means everything to the high-volume cattle "rancher".”
jjdiogenes72 on May 30, 2011 at 21:23:30
“I should have said, if we get rid of antibiotics in the CAFOs, people would starve. I know why they give them antibiotics, ruminents (sp?) aren't meant to eat some of the junk that is fed to them and the antibiotics literally allow these cows to live in quarters that would otherwise make them sick given the tight spaces and given that they are fed stuff they weren't evolved to eat. My point was only that we can't get rid of CAFO's overnight - there aren't the processes in place to feed people.”
“Here in the Heart of Iowa, surrounded by an almost oppressing (and certainly, depressing) view of corn-on-soybean, I love the fact Seed Savers exists!! Genetic Diversity is unimaginably important - if a new disease occurs, who knows what combination of resistances will prove fruitful? Iowans have realized that we import over 80% of our food, and yet have some of the most organically rich soil on Earth! What better place to plant the potential food, cures, textiles, and materials of the future from these seeds? :)”
“Ecotopian - A good recipe goes a long way towards making kids eat beets, chard, spinach, or kale. Cooking it into a green goopy mass isn't appealing to anybody. Maybe try putting it into things they like. Alton Brown gives some great ideas on his episode "Give Peas a Chance" (S. 9 Ep. 1), it's on youtube.
“(continued) What I was trying to convey was that we still don't know ALL the phenotypes affected when we modify a gene in one species with that of one in another... and then eat them long-term. Does our gut process it the same way? Does our brains? Does it have cumulative effects? Nobody knows. Just sounds like a big gamble to me, and though there is much to celebrate, caution should still exist. Can we have that? It's far from unreasonable.”
“Yes. We selected the phenotypic properties that came about through natural mutations and variations. But the current definition of "GMO" refers to the latter, artificial foreign-gene-insert variety, doesn't it? For all intents and purposes as I understand it for Legal Organic Certification, anyway... :P
I certainly don't mean for it to sound Lamarkian, but I can see where my wording was off. I'm not conveying they "rearrange their own genes" in a literal sense, just that each domestic variety is a result of mutations (ie: the diversity of plants in the brassica genus) that are a literal rearranging of the same genes.
You know the story: don't keep all your eggs in one basket, the same with genes. The only constant in this world is change. Putting those together, there has to be a certain amount of genetic variability in a species so they're not all decimated when the environment finally does change. Thus, those that have the genes to resist or procreate or survive better, adapt, and when it changes again, those with the sufficient resistances will adapt, etc.
As to the horizontal gene transfer, I was thinking of natural, not artificial horizontal gene transfer... of course it exists; that is obvious. But I WAS off to bring it up here, as I remember it refers mostly to bacteria and other microorganisms and not so much plants. I get my classes mixed up sometimes, especially around finals... (more)”
“... but there are different KINDS of saturated fats and cholesterols. It's still up in the air as to what ones are "healthy", "more digestible", etc. And, Toxic grass? Confused... they're ruminants.
I'm not advocating a butter enema by any means, but there's so much unknown in the nutrition field, it's daunting. Technically, water has no nutritional value, either. Go figure. :P”
Stilyagi on Apr 25, 2011 at 23:00:06
“"... but there are different KINDS of saturated fats and cholesterols. It's still up in the air as to what ones are "healthy", "more digestible", etc"
I know that, but to say "margarine has no merits'?? I came here to see an informed debate on the issue, not people blurting out "butter is king". I do think we are starting to see a consensus on fats and oils. So if I defend margarine, it would only be the non partially hydrogenated variety I'm defending.
“"Genetic Seed Diversity is unfortunate"? Really? Did you ever hear of the Potato Blight?”
Murphdogg on Apr 26, 2011 at 11:11:47
“Didn't really come out right. I was thinking of my comment only as a response to kkmousse and not a stand alone. I meant that the lack of seed diversity is an unfortunate (and current) side affect of purchased seeds. But the number of varieties have been dropping for hundreds of years.”
“I got a big "LOL" out of these... We didn't "tinker" with their genes "since agriculture started"- we selected for desirable traits with every generation. Whether for flavor, yield, disease resistance, etc., we didn't have the ABILITY to "tinker" with their genes until the 1980's!
REGULAR domesticated crops are a rearranging of their own genes and random mutations (as well as limited natural horizontal gene transfer) that allow them to adapt more securely to the types of environments we force them to grow in.
The difference is THIS key: Typical Domesticated varieties do NOT have DNA from different flora and fauna mixed in to their alleles... unlike GM (transgenic) organisms.
We have NO idea what the long-term effects of doing this is. All testing is self-reported by the company that makes the organism (self-serving interests, anyone?), and it is VERY ILLEGAL for independent studies to be done, and the results published without the company's explicit consent.
Doesn't that sound fishy to you? (no pun intended with the salmon. :P)”
deweydecimal on Apr 26, 2011 at 14:55:32
“Actually we DIRECTLY tinker with genes before the targetted approaches that were possible now via interfering with things like the cytoskeleton of the cell during mitosis and meiosis. It was this that allowed breeders to breed many modern fruit varietals, triticale and countless other crops.”
Academic Migrant on Apr 25, 2011 at 22:58:33
“We did tinker with the genes by determining which phenotypic traits were desirable. Due to our selection, the genetic makeup of those domesticated crops and animals have changed over time. This is tinkering with the genes. Just because we didn't reach-in and take this gene and leave that gene, etc., doesn't mean we didn't tinker with them.
Your argument sounds awfully Lamarkian to me. Explain to me how domesticated crop rearrange their own genes in order to adapt to environments.
Also, you do realize that horizontal gene transfer is the transfer of genes from one organism into the DNA of another. In one sentence you argue that it exists in regular domesticated crops. In a latter sentence you state that "Typical Domesticated varieties do NOT have DNA from different flora and fauna mixed into their alleles...". So which is it? There is, or there is not, horizontal gene transfer?”