Bastrop Cattle Company

  (Bastrop, Texas)
Bastrop Cattle Company
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Carbon footprint production and transportation measurements

Yesterday I wrote about hearing Mark Bitman speak on NPR and how he was encouraging people to change their diets to help the environment.  After writing, I went out on the web and did some more searching -- especially in regard to my statement that it seems that everybody's carbon footprint would be decreased if they bought local.

OK, so there is a study out by Carnagie-Mellon that has actually tried to measure food's carbon footprint.  They have figured out that 85% of the carbon footprint is made up of how the food is produced or raised.  WOW!

They then figure that transporation of the food only accounts for 11% and the transportation between seller and buyer is a mere 4%.

Now, I didn't see the report -- I would like to -- I just read what one person was quoting from another person who did see the report. 

What was interesting (and this is why we should all see the information as close to the source as possible!), the guy who was writing the article - went on to state that since transporation is such a small part of the footprint it could be argued that sunny, poor countries may actually be a better place to raise food than developed countries ----

Stick with me here!

ie if you live in Iceland and you use lots of energy to raise greenhouse tomatoes you are creating more of a carbon footprint than if you raise the tomatoes in the field in Mexico and air frieght them to Iceland.

I kid you not! 

Now I can see where the industrial way of producing crops and raising meat would leave a big footprint -- lots of petrochemical based fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, but what if you're not using all that stuff?

Now, wouldn't the transportation carbon costs become proportationally bigger?

Again, I'd really like to see the research and report. 

The article I saw was at:


So where do we go from here?

I've received several comments and emails about my last post.  Thank you!  One comment was about how do we get farmers and ranchers back on the land when real estate is so high in price that no one who wants to farm or ranch can afford to buy in?

Well, that comes down to our whole society making a radical shift!

I saw a funny comment in the paper.  A Frenchmen said "It's (the US) the country where people are the best informed about food and enjoy it the least."

Maybe if we enjoyed our food more, we would value it more and be prepared to pay more so that people who produce it could make a living on the land.

I listened to NPR this morning and there was this segment on a family farmer in Illinois that was selling his herd of cattle because it was just no longer financially feasible to keep them.  He was trying not to cry.

I do hold out some hope.  I think the whole food system is changing -- just like Michael Pollan suggested.  I do think that there is a growing group of people who do enjoy food and are learning how to cook again - and they tend to buy local. 

But here's the problem -- at least as far is beef is concerned -- the price of cattle on the hoof is falling faster than oil!  Summer of 2007, you could sell a steer and manage $1.42/lb.  Now its down to .84/lb.  and my neighbor just came by to tell me she had heard it had dropped to .60/lb.  Of course everyone is selling because of the drought.  People are getting rid of whole herds.

We're hanging on, but all I seem to get is wind and no rain.

So if anyone has some suggestions . . . .

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