“Eat responsibly,” I have usually answered. Of course, I have tried to explain what I meant by that, but afterwards I have invariably felt that there was more to be said than I had been able to say. Now I would like to attempt a better explanation.
– Wendell Berry: The Pleasure of Eating
“Agriculture as we know it today will have to change in the face of population growth and climate change. Here’s a look at technologies that can help, without also messing up the environment. …”
On a “lunatic” tour of Polyface Farms, June 18, 2010, Joel Salatin, owner, discusses the process and benefits of raising cattle on grass.
For the past 50 years, raising beef in the United States has generally been about growing beef bigger, faster, and cheaper on as little land as possible. Contrary to the pastoral image one may have of farming, most cows raised in the United States these days eat corn — which they were never meant to eat — and get sick from it. Cows in the US receive a fair amount of antibiotics to compensate, and their manure is collected in huge lagoons that are too riddled with antibiotics to feed back to the corn that feeds them.
Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms, believes in raising animals in a way that mimics the processes of nature: Cows graze one area of grass, and a few days later, chickens graze the same area and eat the fly larvae out of the manure. The manure from both fertilizes the grass. Joel Salatin discusses a little of this process, here.
Organic gardening: How to grow an organic vegetable garden
What does it mean to grow vegetables organically? Scott Meyer, editor of Organic Gardening magazine shows how to plant and nurture an organic vegetable garden.
Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how to design natural homes and abundant food production systems and food forests, how to incorporate backyard animals, how to build biodiversity to protect wildlife, regenerate degraded landscapes and ecosystems,harvest rainwater, develop ethical economies and communities, and much more. As an ecological design system, permaculture focuses on the interconnections between things more than individual parts.
#4 MEAT-FREE MONDAYS:
There is a global move to encourage people to have one day a week free of meat. It’s a small move with a big impact on the environment, on animals and on health.
1. THE ENVIRONMENT // Eating less meat can help minimise the ecological footprint of your food because stock breeding has a detrimental impact on the environment.
A United Nations report states that emissions from livestock make up 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions. That is more than every form of transportation combined. Two of the gases they produce are methane and nitrous oxide. Methane is twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming potential, and 37% of the emissions from livestock are methane. Nitrous oxide comes from livestock manure, and these emissions are 65% of all nitrous oxide emitted in the world.
There are a host of additional issues regarding meat production, these include the vast amounts of water it takes to produce meat, deforestation to make pastures, overgrazing turning pastures into deserts, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones making their way into our drinking water, and waste from feed production that places nutrients into the water that promotes weeds taking over all forms of vegetation.
2. ANIMALS // The increase in meat production over time would not have been possible without the development of commercial methods of farming, which have ignored the rights of animals who are deprived of exercise, fresh air and social interaction.
3. YOUR HEALTH // The campaign hopes to perpetuate a healthy message by raising awareness of the importance of limiting saturated fat in our diet, which nutritionists say contributes significantly to several diseases which have reached epidemic proportions.
Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (eg. meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (eg. vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%. Research suggests that a higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain. Red and processed meat consumption is associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fibre, protein, zinc, iron and magnesium and lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
Most of us eat more meat and other protein rich foods than we need to stay healthy. In 2007 the World Cancer Research Fund report recommended limiting the consumption of red meats such as beef, pork ad lamb because of a ‘convincing’ link with colorectal cancer. Links have also been found between high meat diets and obesity and heart disease.
Remember also that climate change is a threat to our future health. As the world warms up it is likely that levels of air pollution, and thus allergies and respiratory diseases, will rise, as will the rate of infectious diseases
Public Health experts suggest that reducing our daily intake of meat by 60%, will help reduce excess weight and obesity and result in benefits to individuals and society.
WHY MONDAYS? // It has been recognised that adding a time factor to a message helps people to change their behaviour. In addition to memorable alliteration, Mondays are traditionally the “start healthy eating” day of the week.