Bastrop Cattle Company

  (Bastrop, Texas)
Bastrop Cattle Company

Reducing the Carbon Footprint by Buying Local

Between throwing hay to the cows and delivering meat in Austin, I try to keep up with the food trends in the country.  This past week I listened to Mark Bitman being interviewed on NPR.  He was promoting his new book, Food Matters, which maintains that all of us can have a positive impact on the environment just by altering our eating habits.  Now since part of his suggestion was that we all eat less meat, I was a bit "vexed" to say the least!  So this weekend, I surfed on over to the NPR website and looked up some more on the interview.  I wanted to see if Mr. Bitman had differentiated the carbon footprints between grass fed meat and feedlot or industrial meat.  I also wanted to see if he talked at all about local, and sustaninable agriculture as part of the solution to reducing carbon dioxide.

No, he hadn't; at least not in the interview.  Maybe he does in his book.  I can hope!

Obviously, I have a self-interest in promoting grass fed beef.  And I do think that the grass fed movement for meat - be it chicken, beef or pork - does have a very important place in reducing our individual and collective carbon footprint.

 On my website blog, I talk about all the difference in how grass fed meat is raised versus industrial meat, and how that substantially reduces the carbon footprint of both the producer and the consumer.

However, what I think is of concern to all of us producers here on Local Harvest is getting the word out about how local, sustainable agriculture and local purchase of the produce, meats and products coming from local farms, ranches and artisans substantially reduces the carbon footprint of all of us -- as a nation.

Mr. Bitman talks a lot about reducing the intake of animal products and increasing the intake of veggies and fruits as a primary way of reducing each person's carbon footprint.  Now, I think (even though I raise and sell grass fed beef) that everyone would be better health wise to eat smaller portions of meat and substantially increase their vegetable and fruit intake.

However, here is my question; if you are giving up meat but sourcing your vegetables from across the country or out of the country, just how much have you really reduced your carbon footprint?

I think it is important that the word get out -- if people really care about the environment, then buy local, sustainable produce and meats. 

As the bumper sticker goes "Eat Local, its Thousands of Miles Better".

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Your grass fed beef is a good option. However the methods used to compute the carbon footprint by most people gives the grass fed beef very little advantage. Many equate a lb of beef to driving several miles in your car. This is not correct computation or true representation of the carbon footprint. Your cow is recycling carbon from the air and should not be given the high carbon footprint; the grass fed cow is adding very little carbon; the cowboy driving the truck adds carbon from the diesel or gasoline.

Posted by Gary Myers on September 02, 2009 at 07:53 AM CDT #

I think that there are many variable that don't get taken into account when one starts talking about the benefits of grass-fed versus corn fed feed lot meat.
We used compost tea and fish emussion to fertilize our hay pasture this past spring. Besides the fact that my neighbor used traditional fertilizers that cost him twice as much and his grass didn't even last as long as mine! - I would think that there would be multiple advantages to helping my carbon footprint in this;
1. no carbon dioxide released in making my organic fertilizer.
2. the guy who made it is less than four miles down the road from me as opposed to across the state, and
3. my grass, being much healthier than my neighbors is absorbing more carbon dioxide.

Posted by Pati on September 02, 2009 at 09:33 AM CDT #

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